New information by Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE show that renewable power input accounted for 28% of the German electricity mix in the first quarter of 2014. Q1 was charaterized by mild temperatures and a high solar and wind power production.
Solar power production increased by 73% compared with last year, while wind power production rose by 32%. Together, both renewable energy sources generated almost 23 TWh and accounted for almost 17% of the total electricity production in Q1. Due to low rainfall, hydroelectric power plants generated less power.
Interestingly ISE information show that despite the higher volumes of renewable energy German electricity exports declined. Exports to neighbouring countries shrank from 11.4 TWh in the first quarter last year (a record year for exports) to about 2 TWh, falling below the levels of Q1 2011 and 2012.
The declining exports and higher renewable power production resulted in falling generation by conventional power plants (as renewable power enjoys priority in the German grids according the the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG)). Most affected were gas-fired power plants that recorded a decline of 30%, followed by hard-coal (17%), lignite (about 6%) and nuclear power (almost 4%).
A comparison of the first quarters as from 2011 (the year in which Germany decided to phase-out nuclear power faster and push renewable power even more) shows that the decline of gas-fired electricity production is a continuous trend (although gas-fired power plants are considered more environmentally friendly than other conventional plants and were thought in 2011 to be the bridging technology towards the renewables age, a role the government previous wanted to accord to nuclear power). Production by lignite and hard-coal fired power plants was roughly on the same level as in 2011 and 2012, hence not reaching the record production of 2013.
„Solar and wind power plants produced significantly more energy in Q1 2014 than at the same time last year. Power production from lignite and hard-coal fired plants returned to normal levels after the boom year 2013″, Prof. Dr. Bruno Burger, head of the energy data group at ISE, summed up ISE findings.
Source: Fraunhofer ISE