The share of renewables in Germany’s energy mix has receded during the first half of this year, triggering concern Europe’s largest economy may face a renewable power shortage in coming years and won’t reach its climate targets.
The country’s primary energy consumption from January through June rose by 4.3% to 6.191 petajoule (PJ) amid an easing of Covid-19 prevention measures and a reviving economy, said AG Energiebilanzen, an energy market research group set up by major German energy industry and economic research institutes. As primary energy includes transport and heating, a colder winter also contributed.
At the same time winds were below average and wind power saw its share reduced (-20%), pushing the overall percentage of renewables in the energy mix down to 16.8%, from 17.7% in the first half of 2020.
AG Energiebilanzen didn’t provide the exact share of each renewable energy technology in the overall mix, but said solar power was stable, while biomass-fired power output rose by 6%, and hydro power production was up 5%.
Germany’s renewable energy federation (BEE) said it was greatly concerned by the (rare) reduction in the share of renewable energy.
“Renewable energies are the key for climate protection and a sustainable business location. A slump in the share of green energies, especially in the electricity sector, makes a huge green electricity gap [‘Ökostromlücke’] more likely in coming years,” BEE president Simone Peter said.
“On the one hand, the need for green electricity is growing due to sector coupling in e-mobility, green hydrogen and heat pumps, and on the other hand, the completion of the nuclear phase-out next year and an accelerated coal exit due to rising CO2 prices will mean that conventional capacities will go off the grid.”
Peter called upon Germany’s next government after late September elections to legislate already during its first 100 days in office on an accelerated expansion of renewables in order to reach the country’s target of a 65%-cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (from 1990 levels).
For that, a share of renewables in final energy consumption of 44% would be needed (up from the above-mentioned 16.8%), and of 77% in the electricity mix (up from 43% in the first half of 2021), the BEE estimates.
In the final energy consumption, fossil gas for the first time was the leading energy source with 30.6% of primary energy consumption (+15.6%), also due to increased gas-fired heating during the cold winter period. It was followed by mineral oil with a 28.6% share (-12.1% due to fewer air traffic), and 8.4% for lignite (+33.5%) and 8.2% for hard coal (+22.7%).
Nuclear power increased its share by 7%, but no data was available for its overall percentage in the mix. Germany is phasing out nuclear power by the end of next year, and is the only large economy exiting nuclear and coal at the same time.