Green power generation in Germany surged to a record in the first half of the year, crowding out coal generation and shrugging off weak onshore wind growth in the energy mix.
Renewable sources have supplied half the electricity in Europe’s biggest economy for the six months ending in June, the government reported this week. That increase of seven percentage points compared with a year ago was buoyed by favourable weather and lower competitiveness of coal.
Germany added just 178 onshore turbines with a capacity of 591 megawatts in the first half, said the VDMA and BWE wind lobbies on Thursday. That’s only a fraction of the pace at which Germany installed new turbines during its best year in 2017. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government decided that wind power needs to grow by as much as 1.7 gigawatts annually to help Germany reach the 65 per cent green power target by 2030.
Environmental-licensing problems have stymied project approvals and lowered the probability that Germany will achieve its 2030 green power target, the lobbies said. Green electricity’s record output by June should encourage the government to seek fixes to snarled approvals, they said.
Wind power growth globally has tapered this year due to supply-chain issues prompted by the coronavirus, though the Global Wind Energy Council expects those figures to rebound 2021.
Despite muted growth, wind remains the largest source of electricity in Germany, providing about 27 per cent of energy generated in the first half of 2020. That output benefited from strong winds especially in February. Coronavirus crimped power demand during the lockdowns and depressed power prices. Utilities are increasingly turning to natural gas and burning less coal to fill intermittent gaps in renewable power. The dirtiest energy source became less profitable because of fuel and emission costs.
Onshore wind’s protracted problems prompted RWE AG Chief Executive Rolf Martin Schmitz to say in a June Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung interview that onshore wind power is “practically dead.”
The lobbies Thursday rejected Schmitz’ comments, saying a potential drive to re-equip turbines on sites set up as long as 20 years ago — a process known as repowering — could ramp up capacity while avoiding some of the environmental pitfalls of breaking new ground.
© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.