Clean Power

Published on January 13th, 2016 | by Glenn Meyers


Almost 33% Of German Electricity Came From Renewables in 2015

January 13th, 2016 by  

2015 was a solid year of German renewable energy expansion. Almost one-third of Germany’s electricity demand last year has been delivered by renewable energy, with onshore wind and solar PV leading the charge.

Renewables academic Volker Quaschning published the findings today, compiling the data from a range of sources:

“The share of renewables in Germany’s gross electricity consumption has reached almost one-third in the year 2015th In 2014 the renewable energy overtook first lignite in electricity production. Conventional power plants are increasingly pushed back that can maintain their production volumes only on increased exports. The wind power on land the largest contribution, followed by biomass and photovoltaics.”

German renewable energy shutterstock_280299587

As PV-magazine points out, while German PV installation rates have declined, Germany’s installed renewable base is continuing to set records.

Volker Quaschning concludes German renewables supplied 194 TWh of electricity in 2015. This total represents 32.5% of a total gross national electricity consumption of 587 TWh, showing an increase over 27.4% 2014 total.

Onshore wind accounted for the largest source of renewable electricity supply, producing 77.9 TWh in 2015. It is followed by biomass (49.9 TWh), solar PV (38.5 TWh), hydro (19.5 TWh), and offshore wind (8.1 TWh).

These numbers shine on Germany’s much-touted Energiewende or energy transition.  Even so, the level of renewable production falls short of what is required to limit the effects of climate change to 1.5C increase in temperatures.

“To keep the 1.5 degree climate protection limit the increase of the renewable power generation is still too low,” Volker Quaschning states.

Referring to the June 2015 G7 Summit, “…it was decided that carbon dioxide emissions by 40 to 70% lower by 2050 compared with of 2010. Only with a reduction of 70% can be at all the climate change scenario RCP2.6 IPCC achieve that, however, from 2070 with controversial CCS methods provides negative carbon dioxide emissions. If the 2-degree climate target be achieved safely without CCS, carbon dioxide emissions would be reduced to zero already 2040-2050. In Germany would have to the pace of expansion of renewable energies will be quadrupled.”

Volker G7-Klimaschutz

G7 climate protection targets can achieve effective climate protection with CCS limit

The increase in German renewable energy production is reason to be positive, however, it remains short of where Quaschning has shown. And with Germany leading the renewable energy charge, the rest of the world has even farther to go.

Image: German greeting card for renewable energy via Shutterstock
Graphic: volker quaschning

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About the Author

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers was editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributing writer for CleanTechnica, and is founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.

  • Manuel Schnabel

    The Fraunhofer report only covers electrical energy. The vast majority of heating in Germany is not electrical, it is by direct burning of oil and gas. Heating is therefore not included in the Fraunhofer report.
    However, heating IS included in the total CO2 emissions of Germany, and so as many other people have told you earlier in this thread increased heating due to a colder winter is the reason for increased emissions.

  • mikgigs

    There is one little minor minute detail: Germany increases the carbon dioxide emissions in 2015.

    • Ronald Brakels

      That’s because Germany used more energy last year than in 2014. The winter in 2014 was particularly mild. While German emissions do have their ups and downs, they have cut greenhouse gas emissions by 27% from 1990 levels, which isn’t bad compared to the large majority of countries in the world. Particularly compared to that other weird country with a federal parlimentary system. The one that is full of weird furry hopping things. Austria? Is that what it’s called?

      • Jenny Sommer

        The last free Austrian rebel roo was just killed on the road…

        The last one became roadkill in 2013.

        • Ronald Brakels

          For two years it roamed free in Germany. Not bad, not bad at all. There was also a small group of kangaroos in England during World War 2 that were released from a private zoo that survived for quite some time. However, a bad winter apparently finished them off. And there were wallabies on a Hawaiian Island which seemed to get by quite well. I don’t know if they’ve been allowed to continue to roam free or not.

          But try as we might, the only places we’ve really managed to cause huge amounts of damage in with our native animals is in New Zealand with possums and wallabies and possibly brown snakes in Gaum, although maybe we can pin that one on Papua New Guinea. (I have written to Gaum offering to send them some snake eating snakes, but my plan for what to do when the snake eating snakes get low on smaller snakes to eat – fit babies with swallow alarms – did not impress them.)

          • Jenny Sommer

            Well…not quite Germany…
            Carinthia. That’s the other side of Austria bordering Italy and Slovenia.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Well then, clearly the kangaroo was just lost on account of poor spelling.

      • mikgigs

        I do not entirely agree, Germany could increase natural gas consumption, but they lower it every year by at least 10 percent, keeping levels of coal productions more or less the same. Second, winter is not the big case in overall electricity production, industry holds the card. Germany has extreme excess of energy production, which is not reasonable.

        • Ronald Brakels

          When it is cold in Germany, people use more natural gas for heating, more fuel oil for heating, and also more coal for heating. All these things release carbon dioxide when burned and result in more carbon emissions during colder winters than warmer ones.

          • Mikgigs

            Germany decreases the use of natural gas. Btw Germany is not using oil for heating. Moreover, 2015 was hot year and Germany decreases the overall electricity consumption and increases export of electricity. There is no apparent reason that emissions should be increased, that’s why it should be called a bad year for renewables in Germany.

          • Jenny Sommer

            5.6 million oil heaters in Germany in 2014.
            Here’s the mix.
            500PJ is no oil?

          • Philip W

            You’re wrong as Jenny already proved. Last year the sales of oil heaters actually rose 30% because of cheap oil prices. And yes, I’m ashamed for my fellow german citizens who still think that installing new oil heating is a smart idea.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Slight increase over 2014. Due to a cold winter.

      • mikgigs

        No, Germany increases the export of energy every year. Why cold winter is an issue in such case?They have zillions of instruments to lower the emissions every year.

        • Ronald Brakels

          Germans are strange people. When they are cold they attempt to make themsleves warmer. They do this by burning things such as natural gas, fuel oil, and even coal and the colder they are, the more they burn. And when burned, these things all realease carbon dioxide.

      • Mikgigs

        Both Winter seasons in 2015 were not cold…exactly opposite

        • Bob_Wallace

          “Energy-related CO2 emissions in Germany, the largest emitter in the EU ETS, rose by 0.9% in 2015 due to increased demand and more burning of lignite and natural gas.

          That’s according to estimates published on Monday by energy market research group AB Energiebilanzen, which said the figure would have been higher had it not been for an 10.5% jump in renewables-based power.

          If accurate, the findings could be slightly bullish for EUA prices because the German energy sector is the single largest national source of emissions under the EU ETS.

          Overall energy consumption in Germany, which is also Europe’s biggest economy, rose by 1.3% to 455 million tonnes of coal equivalent or 13,335 petajoules, AB Energiebilanzen said.

          “The increase is primarily due to the weather, which was slightly cooler than the very mild previous year, and the associated higher demand for heating energy,” it added.

          The firm said increased demand from Germany’s modest economic growth of 1.8% and an increase in population of around 1 million people was partially offset by improved energy efficiency.

          However, the cooler year meant weather-adjusted energy consumption was actually around 1.5-2% lower, the analysts added.”

  • Zorba

    Good news. (Now if only Google Translate ran on 100% renewable energy too… 😉 )

  • JamesWimberley

    The case is even stronger for the more ambitious Paris target of 1.5 degrees C rather than 2 degrees.

    We need to clear up the terminology for sequestration. CCS can mean either:
    – any technology for the capture and storage of carbon, including olivine weathering, biochar burial and reafforestation;
    – the specific and discredited technology of extracting CO2 from power station flues, liquefying it, and injecting underground. We could call this “CCS-L”.

    The failure of the latter only makes the development of the former more urgent.

  • egriff5514

    This is essential reading – explains how the German govt is throttling back on renewable energy which is growing faster than planned

    • JamesWimberley

      FWIW, my take is that the German government will lose control of the Energiewende within a few years. One British solar developer, Lightsource, has announced plans to build unsubsidised solar farms for direct PPA sales to large consumers. We can expect this to happen in Germany as well as Britain for both solar and wind. EU competition law will cripple any policy attempts to stop direct marketers from undercutting coal generation. The only decisions left are about how to fund the coal rundown.

      • heinbloed

        Probably true, half of the German fixed battery storage systems (excl. transport) are purchased without the government even knowing about it.
        (in German)

        (a bit shorter in English, see last sentence)–solarstorage-outsells-electric-vehicles-in-2015_100022751/#axzz3x7CXo79w

        Small scale RE installations like guerrilla PV are just reaching momentum, the EU is still working on a standard.
        However the first communities are subsidising this guerilla PV already. No meter, no FIT but € 200.- per balcony installation:

        ( from a PV activist’s blog)

        more detailed in the regional German press:

        In short: € 200.- for one balcony module and € 300.- for 2 balcony modules, ideal for those who rent an apartment (about 50% of the population life in rented apartments).

        • Ronald Brakels

          With regard to guerrilla solar, guerrilla air-conditioning can now be bought in Australia. Well, I guess it has been available for a long time, but in the past it was only marketed towards people living off-grid. It is a DC air conditioner with a small set of solar panels and some lead-acid batteries. Someone living on-grid in Queensland could use it to bypass the state’s Thailand flooding restrictions on rooftop solar, as since it doesn’t connect to the grid there is no for anyone to know about it.

          • Bob_Wallace

            ” bypass the state’s Thailand flooding restrictions on rooftop solar”


          • Ronald Brakels

            In South Australia with no coal industry (the states one and only coal mine closed down for good before Christmas) we can install 10 kilowatts of rooftop solar if we wish with just a normal grid tie inverter without asking anyone’s permission. Queensland, which is known as the Sunshine state, has a huge coal industry and state owned coal generators. And it has the worst restrictions on rooftop solar in Australia. In Queensland people can only install half as much solar as in the rest of Australia, that is 5 kilowatts. If they want to install more than 3 kilowatts they need special permission. Permission that is not required when installing air-conditioners, electric stoves, pool heaters, clothes dryers, electric water heaters, dishwashers, and so on; all of which can have a greater effect on the grid. People with more than 3 kilowatts of solar may be forbidden from exporting electricity to the grid, while those with more than 3 kilowatts who can export electricity to the grid are required to install special inverters that reduce the amount of electricity exported to the grid by about 10% so they have power in reserve to perform ancillary services. Services which coal power stations are paid to perform, if they chose to sign an ancillary services contract. So basically perfectly good, clean solar electricity is being delibrately wasted in favor of coal power. And that contributes to flooding in Thailand and other places.

          • vensonata

            Ronald says, “…we can install 10 kilowatts of rooftop solar if we wish with just a
            normal grid tie inverter without asking anyone’s permission.”!!!
            American readers take note. You are being bamboozled with “permit fees” and fake safety worries. Your installation costs are twice that of Australia. And soon nicely bundled PV with battery systems will be flooding into Australia for a total cost which is less than the American cost of PV alone.

          • Coley

            Can’t understand why Amricans have to have a permit to install PV? This is the land of uncontrolled gun ownership but they need a permit to install PV?

    • Matt

      I had seen that before “Germany government trying to slow RE over last several years”. But as stated above, current growth will not allow them to reach the 1.5 degree (or even 2 degree) Paris commitment. So will we be seeing a change in policy in the next year or so. So far exports have kept Germany coal plants running, as other countries increase their RE ….

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