Fraunhofer ISE maintains detailed records on an hour-by-hour basis of where Germany gets its electricity from. It then makes that information available online on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis in chart form. An alert Twitter user took a look at the data Fraunhofer provided recently for February and noticed something unusual. Germany derived 61% of its electrical energy from renewables last month — the highest ever for the country.
Massive renewable energy record in Germany: 61% of all electricity in February, with just a few hours to go!
Up to now the highest monthly share of renewable sources in electricity supplied to the public grid was 54%, in March 2019. pic.twitter.com/HqrjYklabW
— Kees van der Leun (@Sustainable2050) February 29, 2020
According to Renew Economy, German has set higher daily or weekly records in the past, but February of 2020 set the record for an entire month. “Of the total 45.12TWh generated by Germany’s power sector, 27.63TWh, or 61.2%, was generated from renewable electricity sources. Throughout the month, Germany’s renewable energy sector regularly provided around 60% or above of the country’s electricity production – including over a dozen days around or above 70%,” RE writes.
Wind turbines were by far the largest contributor to all that renewable energy, generating a record 20.80 TWh, or 45.8%, of the country’s electricity. That smashed the previous record of 34.7% in March of 2019. In second place was not solar, as you might expect, but biomass with 3.74 TWh or 8.3% of the total. Solar was third with 1.86 TWh, or 4.2%. Natural gas provided 10.2% of February’s total, while nuclear provided 11.5%. Coal — both soft and hard — provided only 17% of the country’s power in February.
“By making the data available on this website,” Fraunhofer ISE says, “it is our intent to promote transparent and objective discussions relating to all factors regarding the energy transformation in Germany. The data is collected from various neutral sources by scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE and cover the period from 2011 to present.”
The February record is important because it shows the downward trend of coal generation in Germany, a contentious issue in German politics of late. In January, the government of Angela Merkel agreed to pay up to $45 billion to compensate the owners of coal generating stations for shutting down those facilities early.
In a perfect world, that money would have gone to install more wind and solar facilities, but politics sometimes means making unpalatable choices. The fact that Germany is getting more and more of its electricity from renewable sources is very good news indeed, even if it comes at the expense of paying off greedy owners of thermal generating stations to get them to stop killing their own customers with their pollution.