Poor Weather-led Drop in Wind Output Slashes German RE Use

Highlights :

  • Share of renewable energies in German electricity consumption in the first half of 2021 fell to 43%, a 7% drop compared to the year-ago period.
  • Weather identified to be the primary cause for lower wind output.

In the first half of 2021, renewable energies covered around 43 percent of gross domestic electricity consumption, compared to 50 percent of it in the same period in 2020, say the preliminary calculations of the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) and the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW).

The Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) is one of the leading institutes for applied research in the fields of photovoltaics, renewable fuels, battery technology and fuel cells, and energy system analysis.

The BDEW is considered to be the largest energy industry association in Germany, with 1800 members, including local and municipal utilities as well as regional and inter-regional suppliers. It has considerable influence on German energy policy and is generally a proponent of free-market designs.

In a joint statement released yesterday, the organisations said that there was a slight increase of around two percent this year compared to 2020 in electricity generation from photovoltaic systems, while generation from wind energy (onshore and offshore) fell by around 20 percent. In the same period last year, the share of renewable energies in gross electricity consumption was slightly higher at around 50 percent.

The weather was primarily found to be responsible for this. While records were set in the first half of 2020 for electricity generation from solar energy and onshore wind energy, this year the first quarter in particular was unusually windless and poor in sunshine hours. In the second quarter, weather conditions were more favorable, with renewables accounting for 45 percent of the total for April through June.

The 2020 values were also influenced by the significantly lower electricity consumption in the first Corona Lockdown in spring 2020. Since the renewables quota is reported as a share of electricity consumption, lower consumption alone leads to an increase in the percentage value, said the statement. This year, electricity consumption was back at a normal level.

“In order to achieve the ambitious climate targets set out in the Climate Protection Act and the European Green Deal, we must significantly increase the pace of expansion. The higher CO2 reduction target requires a share of at least 70 percent of renewable energies in electricity generation by 2030,” says Kerstin Andreae, Chairwoman of BDEW’s Executive Board.

Professor Frithjof Staiß, executive director of ZSW, added, “The question remains unanswered as to what measures are to be taken to ensure that photovoltaic capacity is doubled and onshore wind capacity tripled compared with 2020 – not at the end of the decade, but from next year onwards over the entire decade. The availability of land and the long lead times for larger projects alone mean that action must be taken quickly. It is also clear that a significant acceleration in the expansion of renewable energies will not be without conflict. Here, too, the federal government must offer much more than was decided with the Immediate Action Program 2022.”

In the first half of 2021, gross electricity generation increased by 5% to 292 billion kilowatt hours and total electricity consumption was around 285 billion kWh. A total of around 122 billion kWh of electricity was generated from solar, wind and other renewable sources.

Of this, a good 48 billion kWh came from onshore wind, 28 billion kWh from photovoltaics, a good 22 billion kWh from biomass, almost twelve billion kWh from offshore wind, and nine billion kWh from hydropower.

Depending on different methods of calculation, the share of renewable energies in gross electricity consumption in the first half of 2021 comes up to 42 or 43 percent.

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Soumya Duggal

Soumya is a master's degree holder in English, with a passion for writing. It's an interest she has directed towards environmental writing recently, with a special emphasis on the progress being made in renewable energy.