Record year for renewable energy

Renewable energy delivered more power in Germany in 2015 than any other energy source— one of several records broken in the German energy system last year.

Every third kilowatt-hour of energy came from a renewable energy source, writes the think tank Agora Energiewende. Accounting for 32.5 per cent of the German energy mix in 2015, the top renewable energy sources were wind, solar, hydroelectric and biomass power plants.

This marks an increase of more than five percentage points over 2014’s 27.3 per cent, the strongest increase ever recorded. Wind energy contributed the most to this increase, with wind power production up 50 per cent from 2014.

Agora Energiewende expects the share of renewable energies to rise ever further in 2016.

Renewables broke another record on 23 August 2015 when they covered at their peak 83.2 per cent of Germany’s power consumption. And during the partial solar eclipse on 20 March, the power system was able to cope well with fluctuations in nation-wide solar production. This demonstrates the system’s flexibility and ability to adjust to the fluctuating availability of power from wind and sun, explains Agora Energiewende.

Power production also hit a record high, rising three per cent above 2014. As power usage hardly changed, Germany was able to increase its power exports by around 50 per cent last year, with around one-tenth of all power produced in German sold abroad.

“This shows that Germany has an oversupply of power – despite the shutdown of nuclear power plants,” says Dr. Patrick Graichen, direct of Agora Energiewende. “The flip side is that Germany is now exporting power produced by coal-fired plants, which renewable energies have made superfluous at home. The climate impact of Germany’s power system therefore hardly improved last year, and overall greenhouse gas emissions even rose slightly.”


Image credit: Deutscher Bundestag / Lichtblick / Achim Melde

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