German RE nudges 25% 2013 share

Renewables came within a whisker of accounting for a quarter of Germany's electricity consumption in 2013 – but CO2 emissions also rose amid continued strong coal and lignite production.

Renewables last year hit 24.7% of electricity consumption in Europe’s largest economy, up from 23.6% in 2012, the Agora Energiewende think-tank said, based on data from the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Energiebilianzen (AGEB).

The AGEB – or Working Group on Energy Balances – was founded by the energy sector and research institutes, and compiles consumption data that serves as a basis for Germany’s energy policy.

Output from renewables also climbed to 23.4% of Germany’s electricity production, up from 22.8% in 2012. National energy output and consumption don’t coincide due to power import and export variations.

Within renewables, solar power widened its share to 4.5% of production from 4.2% in 2012, Agora Energiewende said. Biomass also grew, to 7.6% in 2013 from 6.3% of power output in 2012.

Wind power, however, fell to 7.9% of electricity output in 2013 from 8.1% in 2012, while hydro also receded slightly to 3.4% from 3.5% a year earlier – both developments due to the weather, Agora said.

“Renewable energies continue on a good path,” says Agora project manager Patrick Graichen. “But it is worrisome that electricity production has become more damaging to the climate due to the increasing usage of coal,” he said, adding that the non-functioning EU emission certificate trading system was to blame.

Electricity production from coal rose to 19.7% in 2013 in Germany, from 18.5% in 2012, while that from lignite increased to 25.8% in 2013 from 25.5% in 2012. With that, output from coal and lignite combined rose 8.9 terawatt hours last year. At the same time, the usage of less polluting gas-fired electricity fell.

The increased coal and lignite output wasn’t really needed, as at the same time the country used up 10.7 TWh of electricity less than in the previous year. That excess was mostly exported, with Germany exporting 9.9 TWh more electricity than it imported in 2013.

If current trends continue, the build-up of renewables in Germany alone will compensate for the phasing out of nuclear power by 2022, Agora concludes. Nuclear decreased its share in electricity output to 15.4% in 2013 from 15.8% in 2012.