German net power exports grow

Germany is exporting an increasing share of the electricity it produces despite the country’s phasing out of nuclear power, figures for 2013 show.

Reasons for the German power exports are mainly the increase in the use of renewables and the disparity between the price of electricity produced by coal and lignite compared to that generated by gas, says the BDEW, the main lobbying group for the country’s energy sector.

Germany last year exported 33GWh more of electricity, than it imported, the BDEW figures show. That corresponded to more than 5% of the country’s electricity output.

This happened despite Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022.

The Netherlands were the largest net recipient of German power flows, receiving 25GWh of net electricity exports from its neighbour. Not all of that power was being used by the Netherlands itself as a large part of the electricity went further to Belgium and the UK.

German net electricity flows to Switzerland and Austria were also quite large, while the country imported more energy from France and the Czech Republic than it exported.

The reason for the increase in German power exports was mainly that electricity from the country at wholesale markets was cheaper than that of its neighbours, the BDEW explains.

That was because of an abundance of cheap power from coal and lignite plants, as well as a rising share of renewable energy output that enters the electricity market at production costs of close to zero, pushing more expensive energy, such as gas, out of the market.

Low prices for CO2 in Europe’s emission trading system were also to blame for Germany’s low wholesale power prices, the BDEW says.

Renewables made up 23.4% of Germany’s electricity output in 2013, the BDEW said, confirming earlier preliminary data. Of that, 7.9% came from wind, 6.8% from biomass, 4.5% from PV, 3.4% from hydro, and 0.8% from waste.

Coal accounted for 19.7% of electricity produced, lignite for 25.5%, nuclear for 15.4%, gas for 10.5%, and oil, pumped-storage and other sources for 5.2%.