Coronavirus pandemic and stormy February lead to increase in share of renewable energies in electricity supply sector in Germany

In the second half of 2020, electricity generation from renewable energies was only slightly above 2019 level

Windkraftanlagen stehen im MeerClick to enlarge
Offshore wind turbines
Source: Michael Rosskothen / Fotolia.com

The share of renewable energies in gross electricity consumption will be around 46 percent for the full year 2020 – a good four percentage points higher than the figure for the full year 2019 (42%). This is the result of a preliminary evaluation by the working group on renewable energy statistics (AGEE-Stat) at the German Environment Agency (UBA). The increase was due to an increase in electricity generation from renewable sources of about five per cent, but also in particular to a decrease in electricity consumption in the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

About two thirds of the increase in renewable electricity generation can be traced to the exceptionally stormy month of February. Spread over the remaining months, photovoltaics and offshore wind power contributed to a slight increase in electricity from renewable energies. The trend for the renewables share developed differently over the course of the year: whereas it was still around 50 per cent in the first half of the year, it is projected to be around 42 per cent in the second half of 2020.

The figures in detail 

Based on available data, electricity generation from renewable energies can be expected to reach about 255 billion kilowatt hours (billion kWh) in 2020. This represents an increase of about five percent over the previous year (242 billion kWh). Since the Covid-19 pandemic also significantly reduced electricity consumption, the share of green electricity increased significantly from 42 per cent in 2019 to an estimated 46 per cent. The growth in renewable electricity generation can mainly be attributed to electricity generation from solar power installations (+10 per cent, up to 51 billion kWh) and wind power stations (+7 per cent, up to 135 billion kWh, of which 107 billion kWh is onshore and 28 billion kWh is offshore). In contrast, electricity generation from biomass remained about the same as 2019 (44 billion kWh) and electricity generation from hydropower (19 billion kWh) is estimated to have declined slightly (minus 5 per cent).

In photovoltaics, the addition of new plants contributed to the growth in electricity generation. The newly added capacity in 2020 is expected to be around 4,400 megawatts (MW). Total installed capacity rose by more than 9 percent to over 53,000 MW in 2020. However, electricity generation from photovoltaics also benefited from slightly more solar radiation than in the previous year.

In onshore wind energy, the trend in turbine installations is the opposite. While a record 4,891 MW was added in 2017, the number of new wind turbines has fallen significantly since then. Newly installed capacity in 2020 is expected to be 1,200 MW, the fourth lowest value since 2000 and only slightly more than in 2019 (865 MW).

a look at the monthly distribution of electricity generation from onshore wind power shows that exceptionally windy conditions in February of the year account for the increase in onshore wind power generation. Total electricity generation for all other eleven months is slightly below the level of the previous year.

In offshore wind energy, turbines with a total capacity of around 220 MW were commissioned in 2020. The total capacity of offshore wind turbines at the end of 2020 is around 7,750 MW.

Umweltbundesamt Hauptsitz

Wörlitzer Platz 1
06844 Dessau-Roßlau
Germany

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