Renewable energy in Germany continues growth trend

Lots of sunshine and a very windy February generated more green electricity in first six months of 2020 than same period in 2019

Photovoltaikanlage auf dem Dach des Umweltbundesamtes in Dessau-RoßlauClick to enlarge
Lots of sunshine and wind gave electricity production from renewable energy sources a further boost
Source: Martin Stallmann / Umweltbundesamt

Renewable energies strengthened their position in the German electricity mix significantly in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period last year. In total, around 138 billion kilowatt hours of renewable electricity were generated in the first six months of 2020, around eight percent more than in the first half of 2019 (+ approximately 10 billion kWh). These figures are shown by data from the Working Group on Renewable Energy Statistics (AGEE-Stat). This represents a continuation of the increase of previous years. Because electricity consumption fell at the same time due to the coronavirus pandemic, the share of renewable energies in gross electricity consumption grew significantly, reaching about 50 percent for the first time in the first six months of the year - an upturn of about six percentage points from the 44 percent share in the first half of 2019.

Wind energy: In the first half of 2020, wind energy continued to play a decisive role in electricity generation. It was by far the most important energy source in the German electricity mix - ahead of coal, natural gas, nuclear energy and all other renewable energy sources. Compared to the previous year, electricity generation from wind rose by around ten percent to over 73 billion kilowatt hours. Wind energy thus accounted for more than half of the renewable electricity.

Power generation by offshore wind farms rose to around 14 billion kilowatt hours (+ 18 percent) in the first half of the year, mainly due to the commissioning of new offshore wind farms in the second half of the previous year (+ 870 megawatts). In 2020, as expected, relatively little new capacity has been added (+ 213 megawatts), hence the current offshore grid connection capacities of around 7.7 gigawatts are working at full capacity.

Onshore power generation benefited from an unusually windy February. Although power generation in the remaining five months was close to or even slightly below the previous year's figures, overall power generation rose by around nine percent (to 59 billion kilowatt hours). The addition of new wind turbines onshore in the first half of 2020 will remain roughly at the same low level as in the second half of 2019, which is well below the targeted development corridor.

Photovoltaics: Electricity generation from photovoltaics (PV) also contributed to the good result of renewable energies in the current half-year with around 28 billion kilowatt hours (+ 3 billion kilowatt hours). This was due to a strong increase in the number of new PV systems in the previous year and persistently sunny weather - especially in April and May. In the first half of 2020, the installed capacity of photovoltaic systems rose by 2,245 megawatts in a similar order of magnitude to the previous year. Overall, the total output of installed photovoltaic systems now exceeds 51,000 megawatts.

Bioenergy, hydropower, geothermal energy: Almost 26 billion kilowatt hours of electric power was generated from biomass and biogenic waste in the first half of 2020. Hydroelectricity generated 11 billion kilowatt hours, roughly the same amount as in the previous year. Geothermal energy continues to make only a marginal contribution to the electricity supply (around 0.1 billion kilowatt hours).

Renewable energy in the heating sector: The use of renewable energy sources in the heating sector depends heavily on prevailing weather conditions.  For example, the relatively warm temperatures at the beginning of 2020 resulted in lower demand for heating compared with the previous year. Accordingly, the use of biomass for heating purposes in particular also declined slightly. The supply of heat from solar thermal energy rose slightly due to the sunny weather, while the supply of heat from environmental heat also rose due to the further increase in the number of electric heat pumps.

Renewable energy in the transport sector: The use of biofuels in transport in 2020 will be influenced by counteracting conditions. The increase in the statutory greenhouse gas reduction quota to six percent in 2020 (compared to four percent in 2019) means that the relative proportion of biofuels added to the fuel sold will increase; however, the reductions in petrol and diesel induced by the coronavirus pandemic will result in very different developments. While the consumption of bioethanol in the 1st half of 2020 was about eight percent lower than in the same period last year, sales of biodiesel (including hydrotreated vegetable oils, HVO) are expected to increase by about nine percent compared to the same period last year.

Further information:

The Working Group on Renewable Energy Statistics (AGEE-Stat) works on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy to take stock of renewable energy use. AGEE-Stat provides regular reporting on the development of renewable energy based on the latest available statistics. In addition to monthly and quarterly reports, it also publishes an annual report for the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy entitled 'Renewable Energy Sources in Figures'.

The office of AGEE-Stat is located at the German Environment Agency in Dessau-Roßlau.

Umweltbundesamt Hauptsitz

Wörlitzer Platz 1
06844 Dessau-Roßlau