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Published on August 11th, 2014 | by Roy L Hales


Germany’s Renewables Did It Again, A New Record!

August 11th, 2014 by  

Originally Published in the ECOreport

 ‘Energy Mountain‘ Georgswerder | © GmbH - Courtesy Germany Trade & Invest
Germany’s renewables did it again, a new record! According to the Fraunhofer institute, renewable energy produced about 81 TWh, or 31% of the nation’s electricity during the first half of 2014. Solar production is up 28%, wind 19% and biomass 7% over last year. Meanwhile, with the exception of nuclear energy, all conventional sources are producing less. The output from gas powered plants was half of what it had been in 2010 and brown coal powered plants are producing at a similar level to 2010-2012.

Relative change in electricity Production first half of 2014 vs first half of 2013  – B Burger Fraunhofer ISE

Relative change in electricity Production first half of 2014 vs first half of 2013 – B Burger Fraunhofer ISE

“The reoccurring records for renewables in Germany demonstrate the incredible success of Germany’s EEG legislation,” says Max Hildebrandt, renewable energy industry expert at Germany Trade & Invest, the country’s foreign trade and inward investment promotion agency.

The Solar (37.5 GW) and Wind (34.6 GW) sectors also led the nation, in terms of new capacity installed.

These two energy sources work well together. As you can see in the chart below, the strongest winds come during the winter. They are dying down in March and April, when solar energy starts growing strong. By June the sun is providing twice as much energy.

How wind works with Solar,  from 2011 until 2014 –  Courtesy Fraunhofer ISE

Despite this, Germany derives more energy from coal than other energy source. During the first half of 2024: brown coal produced 69.7 TWh, hard coal produced 50.9TWh, and nuclear energy 45.0 TWh.

Germany has been an energy exporter since 2003. Its principal customer has been the Netherlands, followed by Austria, Switzerland, and Poland. Germany has set new records during 2012 and 2013 and appears to be on its way to do this again. It exported 18 TWh during the first half of 2014, as compared to 14.5 TWh during the same period in 2013.

Germany has been an Energy Exporter since 2003 – Fraunhofer ISE


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About the Author

is the President of Cortes Community Radio , CKTZ 89.5 FM, where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the the ECOreport, a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of North America. He writes for both writes for both Clean Technica and PlanetSave on Important Media. He is a research junkie who has written over 1,600 since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.

  • vadik

    Anybody calling to buy Russian natural gas instead of German coal is a sponsor of international terrorism and a murderer.

    • No way

      Anyone supporting Germany to keep using any coal when they could be using other sources are supporting a mass killing which both Hitler and Stalin would be proud of.
      Germany is buying one quarter of all russian eports of both oil and gas so it won’t do any difference until they reduce the use of fossil fuels within the country at a massive scale anyway.

  • BtotheT

    Time to invest the export revenue into renewables. 🙂

  • JamesWimberley

    How much of the increase in wind and solar is simply from new capacity and better weather than 2013, and how much from higher capacity factors? Germany has been repowering old turbines from the 1990s, with low hub heights and obsolete electronics; and I imagine there’s also been some retrofitting of optimisers on older solar arrays.

    • Ulenspiegel

      Only 240 MW old turbines were dismantled in 2013, therefore, the impact of this contribution is tiny in 2014.

      My guess is that the slightly better wind conditions (2012 and 2013 sucked) in combination with the added capacity in 2013 were the main driving forces.

  • Matt

    So with Germany electric exports growing. If that because EU demand is growing or old plants else where in Europe be closed?

  • AltairIV

    I love it.

    It’s stories like this and the one on reliablily just below that make me laugh at the nuclear cheerleaders especially. Solar and wind alone can’t give us a reliable, stable grid… they will never be able to supply enough to handle our needs… the existing grids can’t handle it and it will be too expensive to upgrade them… Riiiight.

    In the real world all you need to do is look at the trends. Solar, wind, and storage? Capacity: up up up; costs: down down down; problems: none at all so far (in spite of all the fud). Nuclear? Capacity: flat to falling; costs: already too high and still climing; problems: where to start?

    I certainly know where to bet my money.

    • AltairIV

      By the way, I recently came across this interesting study:

      Impacts of Germany’s nuclear phase-out on electricity imports and exports

      I haven’t read through all of it yet, but the summary concludes that they have not suffered any problem meeting demand, and that their patterns of imports and exports are, still, primarily based on economic decisions. For example they import cheap hydro power from the alps during the spring melt, and export their more expensive excess coal power in the summer when the demand from their neighbors is high. Their high level of efficiency and solar PV means they have few problems handling their own domestic demand in summer.

      • AltairIV

        Correction. They have traditionally exported in the winter, and imported in summer. But the situation seems to be changing, with the summer of 2012 actually having an export surplus. That was probably confusing my memory.

  • If solar can work in dreary, cloud-covered Germany, then it can work almost anywhere.

  • Joseph Hall

    Cue the article from the Heartland Institute about Germany’s failed renewable energy program!!!!

    • Doug Cutler

      There has to be one of those 25 syllable long compounded German words that means “renewable energy related cognitive dissonance.”

      • jeffhre

        LOL, great post, let us know if you find it!

  • Jan Veselý

    I would like to add this:

    10% of electricity consumption down in 7 years is impresive.

  • eveee

    Its early to tell, but the yearly output seems to be more regular as more solar is added to complement wind. It has been over 6GW average in every month this year so far. This years Feb. total is better than any previous year.

    • Mint

      Monthly average is your metric for “regular”? If Germany had 1-2 TWh of storage (costing much more to build than their 70+ GW installed wind and solar capacity), then you’d have a point…

      This is an absolutely beautifully comprehensive dataset. Look at the DAILY data to see just how “regular” the year-round solar+wind output is:

      The maximal daily sum of Solar and Wind production was 0.58 TWh at 16.03.2014

      The minimal daily sum of Solar and Wind production was 0.022 TWh at 21.01.2014

      A 25x range in output is hardly “regular”.

      Guess what? 21.01.2014 was a day matching peak demand, and wind/solar had their lowest output for the year. Incidentally, the same thing happened last year, with the same 0.22 TWh minimum.

      Look at the hourly charts, week by week, starting on page 126. They show the wind/solar/conventional production split alongside import/export (the total balance being demand, obviously). On page 129 (PDF page 126 – not sure why three pages are missing), you see data for Jan 21, where demand is ~65GW. This peak is reached a few times in the year, but on this day, solar and wind output almost nothing. Germany exported all January long, but on that day they had to import power.

      Germany’s power is reliable because they are barely shutting down any conventional capacity, and furthermore they’ve been able to cover production shortfalls by importing from neighboring countries (despite being a net exporter itself). It’s certainly not fluctuating renewables giving them reliability.

      (FYI, the monthly graph graph shows a minimum renewable output of 6+ TWh from, not GW. The average power is over 9GW for each month. I’ll admit that the monthly averages are nicely flat.)

      • eveee

        “Utilities in Germany need to shut 7 gigawatts of coal-fed power plants by 2016 in addition to closings already announced to rebalance supply and demand, according to researcher Pira Energy Group.”

        “Germany’s largest utility by market value said it has requested approval from the country’s grid regulator and a power network operator for shutting down the 1.3-gigawatt reactor Grafenrheinfeld as early as May 2015. The plant’s operating license expires at the end of 2015.

        The announcement is the latest sign of how Germany’s energy policy of the past few years has undermined the country’s formerly lucrative conventional power-generation industry.”

        So much for Germanys need for conventional power plants.

      • eveee

        All EU countries are relatively small and export/import power to remain in balance including nuclear heavy France. So whats your point? Renewables have never been designed to be the only source or have regular output thus far anywhere. There is not a single nation in the world that already has a plan in place similar to those recommended by various studies. Instead, they are being implemented in the least costly way while at low penetration of 30% or less and require very little additional reserves. All of these nations/states prove that. Pointing to renewables in one small area at low penetrations and declaring them unable to provide 100% renewables is a straw man argument. Endlessly pointing to graphs of wind and solar output is not going to change that. And no, Germany’s power is not reliable because they are keeping conventional power. Coal and nuclear cannot follow load and or follow renewable variability. They are too inflexible.
        So nuclear and coal must go. And they are.

        Moving toward the future, Germany is implementing more offshore wind because the output is steadier and is less correlated with onshore wind.

        • Mint

          What’s my point? That there is nothing regular at all about Germany’s combination of wind and solar.

          Roy L Hales cherry-picked the monthly graph to make it look like they “work well together”. The daily output chart shows magnitudes more variation.

          A theoretical god could put all the low renewable output days of the year in March and all the high days in April, and it wouldn’t make any difference to their grid or how to build it.

          Even monthly totals are a purely academic curiosity.

      • eveee

        It would be nice to get the electricity production figures from a more reliable source than:

        A perusal of nearby Denmark shows a lowering of wind output, but not as great as Germany. A small area the size of Germany will not reduce wind variability. Germany has not built out its offshore wind as much as Denmark, and offshore wind is less correlated with onshore wind. An assessment of renewable variation should take into account an area of Europe from the Baltic to UK, and from Sweden to Italy, Greece. Difficult to do because of the difficulty of finding a comprehensive unified database.

        • Mint

          I screencapped a page (and even gave you a page number) from the same Fraunhofer document that is the basis of this CleanTechnica article.

          You know, the exact same data source that allowed you to say, “It has been over 6GW average in every month this year so far”.

          Both the 2013 and 2014 reports show the same 0.022TWh production minimum on days in January that were among the year’s highest in demand.

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