The shift marks progress as Europe’s biggest economy aims for renewables to provide 65% of its energy by 2030
Renewables overtook coal as Germany’s main source of energy for the first time in 2018, accounting for just over 40% of electricity production. The shift marks progress as Europe’s biggest economy aims for renewables to provide 65% of its energy by 2030, in a costly transition as it abandons nuclear power by 2022, and is devising plans for an orderly long-term exit from coal. The research from the Fraunhofer organization of applied science showed that output of solar, wind, biomass and hydroelectric generation units rose 4.3% in 2018, to produce 219 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity.
That was out of a total national power production of 542 TWh derived from both green and fossil fuels, of which coal burning accounted for 38%. Green energy’s share of Germany’s power production has risen from 38.2% in 2017, and just 19.1% in 2010. Bruno Burger, author of the Fraunhofer study, said it was set to stay above 40 per cent this year. “We will not fall below the 40 per cent in 2019 because more renewable installations are being built and weather patterns will not change that dramatically,” he said. Green power sceptics say that output merely reflects favorable weather patterns and does not prove the sector’s contribution to secure energy supplies.
Coal plants run on imported hard coal contributed 75.7 TWh, or 13.9 per cent of the total. Hydropower only accounted for 3.2 per cent of power production at 17 TWh, as extreme summer heat dried out rivers and was accompanied by low rainfall. Biomass output contributed 8.3 per cent. Gas-to-power plants accounted for 7.4 per cent of the total; nuclear energy for 13.3 per cent; with the remainder coming from oil and waste burning. Germany was a net exporter of 45.6 TWh of power in 2018, mostly to the Netherlands, while importing big volumes from France.