The share of renewable energy in Germany’s power generation surged to 55.8% during the first half of 2020 amid a lower demand due to the decline in industrial activity caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and favourable weather, according to data from the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE.

That compares to a 47%-renewables share in the power generation mix of Europe’s largest economy during the same period last year (measured in net electricity generation, or the power mix that actually comes out of the socket).

Power consumption fell from 47.9 terawatt hours in January to 36.0TWh in June, and totalled 234.2TWh for the entire half year period – a significant drop from the 245.7TWh consumed during the first half of 2019.

Onshore and offshore wind combined now is Germany’s greatest power source, accounting for 75.05TWh during the first half of 2020, or 30.6% of the country’s generation. That was 11.7% more than a year earlier. Due to numerous winter storms, its share even rose to 45% of net electricity generation in February.

Solar power was second among renewable sources, generating 11.2% more than a year earlier, and reaching a share of 11.4% of German net generation during the first half of 2020. PV benefited from mostly sunny weather from April to June.

That was followed by biomass, which contributed to 9.7% of German generation, and hydro power, which carved out a 4% share.

All non-renewable power sources with the exception of natural gas declined during the period.

Lignite (brown coal) reached a share of 13.7% in net power generation, while hard coal’s share was 6%. Nuclear made up 12.3% and will be phased out by the end of 2022. Natural gas reached a share of 11.5%.

The decline in coal and lignite came as the price of CO2 certificates in Europe’s emission trading system rose, and the day-ahead power price on electricity markets fell (amid lower demand), which both pushed fossils out of the market as wind and solar have no fuel costs.

As markets are pushing out coal and lignite, climate activists and Germany’s Green Party opposition have been criticising the government for unnecessarily perpetuating fossils in the country’s power system by paying utilities billions of euros in compensation in the wake of a managed coal exit that puts the end date for coal and lignite at 2038.

Renewables in gross power generation – that also includes industry’s own production (companies in the manufacturing sector as well as in mining and quarrying) and the internal losses of conventional power plants – also topped 50% during the first half of this year.