A mixture of exceptionally strong winds in February, above-average sunshine in March, and the extraordinary effect of a Covid-19-related lower power demand had the effect that renewables energies for the first time met more than half of Germany’s power needs during a quarter.
Renewables during the first quarter made up 52% of the power consumption in Europe’s largest economy, compared to 44.4% in the same quarter a year earlier, according to preliminary data from solar and hydrogen research centre Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) and the German federation of energy and water industries (BDEW).
Electricity demand fell by 1% compared to the year-earlier period, pushed lower by a decline in industrial production during the last week of March in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
As renewables have the right to feed into the German grid with priority over fossil-based power, their share rose. Also, some fossil power plants had been shuttered in late 2019.
The BDEW stressed, however, that no prediction for the whole year can be made on the basis of the special effects during the first quarter.
“The performance of renewables is very gratifying. However, we should always keep in mind that this is a snapshot and that there are many special effects,” BDEW chairwoman Kerstin Andreae said.
“The record numbers are in sharp contrast to the dramatic situation with the current expansion of wind and PV systems,” she added.
Germany’s government for months has failed to take action against a dramatic fall in new onshore wind installations, and also failed to live up to its promise to abolish a cap on solar power support.
If Berlin won’t remove those impediments soon, Germany will not be able to reach its 65% renewables target in the power mix by 2030, Andreae warned.
Onshore wind led during the first quarter, meeting 28.9% of Germany’s power needs, while offshore wind met 6.2%. Biomass accounted for another 7.7%, solar for 5%, hydro for 3.1%, waste to energy for 1%, and geothermal for 0.04%.