German net power exports soar

Germany's net electricity exports quadrupled last year despite its decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022.

Germany exported 22.8 terawatt hours (TWh) more power than it imported in 2012, says the federal statistics institute, Destastis. In 2011, net electricity exports had been 6 TWh.

After the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, Germany switched off eight nuclear power plants. It will phase out its remaining nine reactors by 2022. Critics had feared that the immediate switch-off of the first eight nuclear plants would lead to power supply shortfalls.

Last year showed Germany’s largest net electricity exports in four years, even bigger than in the years before Fukushima, Destatis stresses. The country had a net gain of €1.4bn ($1.8bn) from the exports, it said.

Germany exported most electricity to the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland, while importing power mainly from France, Denmark and the Czech Republic.

The favourable situation was made possible by a rapid expansion of renewable energy output that met 23% of domestic electricity needs in 2012 and is growing towards a 2020 target of 35% faster than foreseen.

A flood of cheap renewable power from Germany has started to affect markets in Central and Northern Europe. Cheap German power sales have led to temporary closures of gas-fired German and Dutch plants. Poland and the Czech Republic have complained about electricity flows from Germany unsettling their grids.