January 3, 2020 / 3:20 PM / 14 days ago

Renewable energy's share of German power mix rose to 46% last year: research group

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Renewable energy’s share of Germany’s overall power supply mix rose by 5.4 percentage points last year to 46%, data from Europe’s biggest state-funded research and development service showed.

FILE PHOTO: Power-generating wind turbines are seen near the city of Halle, Belgium, November 19, 2019 REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

Europe’s biggest economy is aiming for renewables to provide 65% of its power mix by 2030. It says it will abandon nuclear energy by 2022 and is devising plans for an orderly long-term exit from coal.

Out of last year’s total power production of 515.6 terawatt hours (TWh), solar, wind, biomass and hydroelectric generation together produced 237.4 TWh, according to data from the Fraunhofer organization of applied science.

Green power output was up 7% year-on-year, and increased its share of total production from 40.6% in 2018 and 38.2% in 2017, helped by ongoing capacity expansion.

Coal burning accounted for 150.9 TWh last year, a 29% share of the overall market, down from 38% in 2018.

Electricity generation from fossil fuels has dropped as green power is given priority entrance to Germany’s grid system, and as power demand has declined due to mild weather and ongoing efficiency drives.

The cost of mandatory carbon emissions allowances covering coal-to-power output has also risen by 57% to 24.8 euros a ton.

Last year wind power, both onshare and offshore, produced 127.2 TWh, taking a 24.6% share of the total mix.

That was up 15.7% year-on-year, overtaking domestically mined brown coal - which yielded 102.2 TWh, or 19.7% of the total - as the biggest single power source.

Solar panels produced 46.5 TWh, 1.7% more than a year earlier, to give solar a 9% market share. Biomass producers generated 44.4 TWh or 8.5% of the market, while hydropower plants produced 19.2 TWh, or 3.8%.

Green power skeptics say higher output reflects favorable weather patterns and does not fully prove the sector’s contribution to secure energy supplies.

In the conventional energy mix, plants run on imported hard coal generated 48.7 TWh or 9.4% of the total, gas-to-power generation amounted to 54.1 TWh or 10.5% of the market, and nuclear energy 71.1 TWh, or 13.8% of the mix.

A small remainder came from oil and waste burning.

Germany was a net exporter of 30 TWh of power in 2019, sharply down from a surplus of 48 TWh a year earlier as neighbors used low gas prices to boost generation, the institute said.

Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by Jan Harvey

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