Green Power

Embracing Renewables, Germany Sees Surge in Clean Energy Production

A wind farm in Bavaria. Source: DPA
A wind farm in Bavaria.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The German government’s goal is to raise the share of renewable electricity production to at least 35 percent by 2020. But surging electricity costs have forced Berlin to revamp its high feed-in tariffs for renewable sources.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Preliminary figures indicate renewable energy in Germany climbed to 28.5 percent in the first half of 2014.
    • The increase is partly attributed to a mild winter and construction of new wind power facilities.
    • But the country’s use of natural gas is declining in favor of more polluting coal for power generation.
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    Audio

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Electricity generated from renewable resources continues to be on the upswing in Germany.

In the first half of 2014, green energy sources provided 28.5 percent of all electricity used in the country, according to provisional calculations by the Federal Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW). In 2013’s first half, the share was 24.6 percent. Overall electricity consumption, however, declined in the first half of this year, as a mild winter decreased demand.

Reasons for the increase in renewable energy including favorable weather conditions and construction of new facilities, the association said.

Conventional power plants are the losers in the shift to renewable energy sources.

In past years, the generation of electricity from renewable sources has exceeded forecasts most of the time. The federal government’s goal of raising renewable energy’s share of electricity production to at least 35 percent by 2020 is coming within reach. In 2050, that figure is intended to be 80 percent.

Despite the recent slight decline in the use of electricity, the share of green energy in overall production makes it unlikely there will be a decline in the feed-in tariffs mandated by the German Renewable Energy Act (EEG). The EEG feed-in tariffs have been steadily increasing over the years.  It’s currently €0.0624 per kilowatt-hour of electricity – up from €0.05277 in 2013 and €0.0359 in 2012. The EEG charges, which are meant to help expand Germany’s renewable energy sources, are expected to be more than €20 billion ($26.7 billion) this year.

Conventional power plants are the losers in this development. Their degree of capacity utilization has continued to decline, creating problems for their operators. According to the BDEW, the share of gas-fired power plants in overall electricity production declined in the first half of 2014, in comparison with the same period of the preceding year, from 11.4 percent to 9.8 percent.

The share of coal declined from 19.7 to 18 percent, and the share of lignite, also known as brown coal, dripped from 25.3 to 25.1 percent. Nuclear energy’s share was 15.4 percent, down from after 15.1 percent during the same period last year.

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