Lignite and bituminous coal produced 50 percent less energy than renewables in Germany during the first three quarters of 2019, a new report by the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) and the German Association of Energy and Water Management (BDEW) reveals.
According to the document, coal generated 125 billion kWh, down from the 171.1 billion kWh produced during the same period last year. Solar, wind and other renewable sources, on the other hand, generated around 183 billion kWh of electricity between Q1 and Q3, 2019, which covered 42.9 percent of gross electricity consumption in the country and represented a 5 percent increase over the same period last year.
“Notably, renewables’ share climbed as high as 52 percent during an unusually windy March,” the report reads. “If wind and solar energy yields in the fourth quarter are in line with the last few years’ averages, renewables’ share could amount to a good 42 percent in 2019.”
In 2018, renewables and coal accounted for close to the same share in energy production, with Germany still sitting as the top eighth consumer of the black fuel.
But Chancellor Angela Merkel is on a quest to phase out coal, having set the goal of withdrawing from coal-fired power production by 2038. Based on the results of a government-commissioned report, she also proposed the idea of producing 65 percent of Germany’s electricity through renewable sources by 2030 so that CO2 emissions could be lowered by 61 percent over 1990 levels.
According to BDEW, which represents 1,800 firms in power, gas, water and heat provision, even though renewables consumption continues to grow, achieving the 65 percent target would require an increase in wind and solar generation capacity to between 215 billion and 237 billion kWh.
In order to do so, BDEW and ZSW say more flexible rules are necessary when it comes to the expansion of wind farms and photovoltaic farms.
The organizations have been pushing for the capacity of offshore wind turbines to be raised to 17 GW each by 2030 from 15 GW, and for more rapid adoption of solar panels so that the installed capacity reaches 98 GW by 2030.
When it comes to wind turbines, the restrictions are stringent because there are fears of adverse effects on tourism and on the maritime environment of the German North and Baltic Seas.
“We are sliding into a real recession for a lack of land and increasingly prohibitive distance regulations. If politicians don’t ease off the brakes on the expansion of wind farms, we are going to fall well short of the 65 percent target,” Stefan Kapferer, Chairman of BDEW’s General Executive Management Board, said in a media statement.
Despite Kapferer’s worries, onshore wind power remained the leading source of renewable energy in the Q1-Q3 2019 period, with nearly 72 billion kWh, while offshore wind contributed nearly 17 billion kWh and posted the steepest growth at 31 percent.
Photovoltaics came in second place with around 41 billion kWh, followed by biomass with 33 billion kWh, and hydropower with 16 billion kWh.