Image: Harald Dietz © ZSW

Renew­able ener­gies cov­ered 43 per­cent of Ger­man elec­tric­i­ty con­sump­tion in the first half of the year

In the first half of 2021, renew­ables cov­ered about 43 per­cent of gross inland elec­tric­i­ty con­sump­tion. This is shown by pre­lim­i­nary cal­cu­la­tions of the Cen­tre for Solar Ener­gy and Hydro­gen Research Baden-Würt­tem­berg (ZSW) and the Ger­man Asso­ci­a­tion of Ener­gy and Water Indus­tries (BDEW). There was a slight year-on-year increase of around two per­cent in elec­tric­i­ty gen­er­a­tion from pho­to­volta­ic sys­tems, while gen­er­a­tion from wind ener­gy (onshore and off­shore) fell by around 20 percent.

In the same peri­od last year, renew­ables’ share of gross elec­tric­i­ty con­sump­tion was slight­ly high­er at around 50 per­cent. The weath­er was main­ly respon­si­ble for this. While records were set in the first half of 2020 for elec­tric­i­ty gen­er­a­tion from solar ener­gy and onshore wind ener­gy, this year the first quar­ter in par­tic­u­lar was unusu­al­ly wind­less and poor in sun­shine hours. In the sec­ond quar­ter, weath­er con­di­tions were more favourable: for the months April to June, the share of renew­able ener­gies was 45 per­cent. The 2020 val­ues were also affect­ed by the sig­nif­i­cant­ly low­er pow­er con­sump­tion in the first Coro­na lock­down in the spring of 2020. Since the renew­ables quo­ta is shown as a share of elec­tric­i­ty con­sump­tion, low­er con­sump­tion alone leads to an increase in the per­cent­age val­ue. This year, elec­tric­i­ty con­sump­tion was again at a nor­mal level.

“In order to achieve the ambi­tious cli­mate tar­gets in the Cli­mate Pro­tec­tion Act and the Euro­pean Green Deal, we have to sig­nif­i­cant­ly increase the pace of expan­sion. The high­er CO2 reduc­tion tar­get requires a share of at least 70 per­cent of renew­able ener­gies in elec­tric­i­ty gen­er­a­tion by 2030,” says Ker­stin Andreae, Chair­woman of the BDEW Exec­u­tive Board. “In addi­tion to accel­er­at­ing the expan­sion of onshore wind ener­gy by issu­ing more per­mits and des­ig­nat­ing more land, we also need a real PV boom with an increase of at least ten gigawatts per year. This can be achieved with a con­sis­tent mix of instru­ments com­pris­ing finan­cial incen­tives for com­pa­nies and cit­i­zens, more flex­i­bil­i­ty in the choice of how the PV elec­tric­i­ty gen­er­at­ed is used, and a sig­nif­i­cant reduc­tion in red tape sur­round­ing the con­struc­tion and use of PV plants. In addi­tion, the fed­er­al and state gov­ern­ments must make more land avail­able for pho­to­volta­ic sys­tems, for exam­ple through a PV oblig­a­tion for new pub­lic build­ings or inno­v­a­tive con­cepts such as Agri-PV or float­ing solar systems.”

Pro­fes­sor Frithjof Staiß, Man­ag­ing Direc­tor of the ZSW, adds: “The res­o­lu­tion of the new cli­mate pro­tec­tion law is of great impor­tance, but also of great con­se­quence. The course must now be set prompt­ly. This is all the more urgent because, from the point of view of plan­ning process­es and invest­ment deci­sions, 2030 is already tomor­row and 2045 is prac­ti­cal­ly the day after tomor­row. For renew­able ener­gies, the res­o­lu­tions appear far too vague. The ques­tion remains unan­swered as to what mea­sures are to be tak­en to ensure that the expan­sion of pho­to­voltaics is dou­bled com­pared to 2020 and that the expan­sion of onshore wind ener­gy is even tripled — not at the end of the decade, but from next year onwards over the entire decade. If only because of the avail­abil­i­ty of land and the long lead times for larg­er projects, action must be tak­en quick­ly here. It is also clear that a sig­nif­i­cant accel­er­a­tion in the expan­sion of renew­able ener­gies will not be with­out con­flict. Here, too, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment must offer much more than was decid­ed with the 2022 emer­gency programme.”

The gen­er­a­tion fig­ures in detail
In the first half of 2021, gross elec­tric­i­ty gen­er­a­tion was 292 bil­lion kilo­watt hours (bil­lion kWh) — an increase of almost five per­cent com­pared to the same peri­od last year (H1 2020: 279 bil­lion kWh). This con­trast­ed with elec­tric­i­ty con­sump­tion of around 285 bil­lion kWh (H1 2020: 271 bil­lion kWh). A total of around 122 bil­lion kWh of elec­tric­i­ty was gen­er­at­ed from solar, wind and oth­er renew­able sources (1st half of 2020: 137 bil­lion kWh). Of this, a good 48 bil­lion kWh came from onshore wind, 28 bil­lion kWh from pho­to­voltaics, a good 22 bil­lion kWh from bio­mass, almost twelve bil­lion kWh from off­shore wind and nine bil­lion kWh from hydropow­er. 170 bil­lion kWh was gen­er­at­ed from con­ven­tion­al ener­gy sources. In the same peri­od last year, the fig­ure was 142 bil­lion kWh.

Green elec­tric­i­ty share: two cal­cu­la­tion options
The share of renew­able ener­gies in gross elec­tric­i­ty con­sump­tion in the first half of 2021 is around 43 per­cent. The com­mon basis of cal­cu­la­tion is to mea­sure the share of green elec­tric­i­ty in gross elec­tric­i­ty con­sump­tion. It goes back to Euro­pean require­ments and is in line with the tar­get def­i­n­i­tions of the Fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment for the expan­sion of renew­able ener­gies. Gross elec­tric­i­ty con­sump­tion rep­re­sents the entire elec­tric­i­ty sys­tem of a country.

Anoth­er pos­si­bil­i­ty is to mea­sure the share of renew­able ener­gies in gross elec­tric­i­ty gen­er­a­tion. It includes the entire quan­ti­ty of elec­tric­i­ty gen­er­at­ed in Ger­many, i.e. also the export­ed elec­tric­i­ty quan­ti­ties. The share of renew­able ener­gies in the first half of 2021 based on gross elec­tric­i­ty gen­er­a­tion is around 42 percent.