Energy in Germany

Energy in Germany

Few countries have engaged with the energy transition as enthusiastically as Germany

Germany is a world leader in its development of renewable energies. With the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) series of laws since 2000, the energy transition has taken real steps towards the ultimate goal of a sustainable economy, free from the dependence on fossil fuels or nuclear power.

Theoretically, an autonomous complete supply of Germany with renewable energy sources (RES) is possible. Most scenarios foresee an integrated system, In which the security of supply is ensured through export/import from neighboring countries. Two technical challenges remain: storage of intermittent energy and the restructuring of the distribution grid.

A report by the German Council of Economic Experts (Olav Hohmeyer, chief author of the expert report) concluded in 2010 that Germany would be able to completely cover its electricity supply from renewable energies by 2050. There are a number of scenarios, most of which involve exchanges with neighboring countries, to increase the balancing out of the power supply and demand. Under this scenario, periods of low wind in Germany can be compensated, for example, by stored hydropower from Norway.

Wind

At the beginning of 2017 Germany had installed over 50 GW in wind power, a third of all Europe’s wind. It is also the leader in new installations in 2016, at 44%. In 2016, Germany generated 80 TWh (12.3% of its electricity needs) from on- and offshore. Only China and the USA have greater levels of installed capacity.

The potential could be as much as 4 times current generating caqpacities: ca. 2400 TWh/year (in 2015 Germany consumed 635 TWh). According to the Atlas of RES Potential released by the German Agency for Renewable Energies in January 2010, land-based wind energy could cover one fifth of German electricity demand by 2020. This would require about 0.75% of the country’s land area.

Solar

Solar thermal power plants in 2004 had a total output in the electricity sector of 0.4 GW. At the beginning of 2014 it was 3.4 GW. Only 2.5% of the suitable building surface areas was being used for solar electricity or heat by the end of 2016.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE, Freiburg, Breisgau, BW) concluded that the supply of all German electricity and heat would be technically feasible through renewable energies alone by 2050, and this transition would not have an unacceptable financial impact. The ISE (Institute of Solar Energy) holds the world record with TopCon technology, with an efficiency of 25.1% for the silicon-solar cells contacted on both sides. And for epitaxially grown silicon solar cells, a short-circuit current of 39.6 mA / cm3 is achievable. (Frauenhofer ISE Annual Report)

Geothermal

Geothermal power plants in 2004 had a total output of 8.9 GW. At the beginning of 2014 it was 12 GW.

Hydro

Hydropower in 2004 had a total output of 715 GW. At the beginning of 2014 it was 1,000 GW (1 TW).

Biomass

Bioenergy in 2004 had a total output in the electricity sector of 36 GW (227 TWh). At the beginning of 2014 it was 88 GW (405 TWh).

Ethanol production 2004: 28.5 bn litres. 2014: 87.2 bn litres.

Biodiesel production 2004: 2.4 bn litres. 2014: 26.3 bn litres.

According to the Potential Atlas issued by the Renewable Energy Agency in January 2010, bioenergy can cover 15% of the total electricity, heat and fuel supply by 2020, requiring a cultivation area of 3.7 million hectares (today: 1.6 million hectares).

Storage

The Fauenhofer ISE, Freiberg in Breisgau, opened a new center for storage and heat transformation technologies in 2015. Topics: Battery system for photovoltaics and mobility, redox-flow batteries, hydrogen generation by electrolysis, high-temperature storage for solar thermal energy and heat pumps and refrigeration units for power, gas or heat applications.

Efficiency

According to the ISE study, to reach the target of 100% R.E. would involve the energy used for the heating of buildings to be reduced to around 50 percent of the value from 2010, by means of building renovation.

Targets

In 2008, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Construction and Nuclear Safety (BMU) released a study predicting that renewable energies in Germany will reach a share of 30% of the electricity supply by 2020. This target was already exceeded in 2015.

With the 2011 nuclear phase-out decision, the foreseen portion could be increased. According to the 2014 decision of the Federal Government, the green electricity share is to be increased to 40-45% by 2020 and 55 to 60% by 2035.

Investment: 2004: 39.5 bn $US. 2014: 214.4 bn dollar US.

Countries with RE support mechanisms: 2004 = 48. 2014 = 144.

Source of above data: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erneuerbare_Energien

German Primary Energy

Primary energy is energy as it is provided by nature, before any conversions for human purposes. Germany has a broad energy mix, for electricity generation, heating, industry, mobility and agriculture. The mix is changing for market and political reasons.

Primary Energy consumption in Germany for all purposes, 1990-2016

Note: 1.0 EJ = one exajoule = 1018 J = 277 TWh

Year 1990 1995 2000 2005
Type EJ TWh % EJ TWh % EJ TWh % EJ TWh %
Anthracite 2.31 641 15.5 2.06 572 14.4 2.02 561 14.0 1.81 502 12.4
Lignite 3.20 889 21.5 1.73 482 12.2 1.55 431 10.8 1.60 443 11.0
Total coal 5.51 1530 37.0 3.79 1054 26.6 3.57 992 24.8 3.41 945 23.4
Oil 5.22 1450 35.0 5.69 1580 40.0 5.50 1520 38.2 5.17 1430 35.5
Natural gas 2.29 637 15.4 2.80 778 19.6 2.99 829 20.7 3.25 903 22.3
Total Fossils 13.0 3617 87.4 12.3 3412 86.2 12.1 3341 83.7 11.8 3278 81.2
Nuclear 1.67 463 11.2 1.68 467 11.8 1.85 514 12.9 1.78 494 12.2
Wind/ PV/ Hydro .058 16.1 .39 .083 23.1 .58 .127 35.3 .88 .173 48.1 1.2
Biomass /waste .139 39 0.93 .191 53.1 1.3 .290 80.6 2.0 .596 165 4.1
Total 14.905 4140 14.269 3964 14.402 4001 14.558 4044
Year 2010 2012 2014 2016
Type EJ TWh % EJ TWh % EJ TWh % EJ TWh %
Anthracite 1.71 476 12.1 1.73 479 12.8 1.76 489 13.3 1.64 454 12.2
Lignite 1.51 420 10.6 1.65 457 12.2 1.57 437 11.9 1.53 424 11.4
Total coal 3.22 896 22.7 3.38 936 25.0 3.33 926 25.2 3.17 878 23.6
Oil 4.68 1300 33.0 4.53 1260 33.7 4.49 1250 34.1 4.56 1270 34.0
Natural gas 3.17 881 22.3 2.92 811 21.7 2.66 739 20.2 3.04 845 22.7
Total Fossils 11.1 3077 78.0 10.8 3007 80.4 10.5 2915 79.5 10.8 2993 80.3
Nuclear 1.53 426 10.7 1.09 301 8.1 1.06 294 7.7 .93 258 6.9
Wind/ PV/ Hydro .254 70.6 1.8 .356 99.9 2.7 .407 113 3.1 .529 147 3.9
Biomass /waste 1.16 322 8.2 1.03 286 7.7 1.11 309 8.0 1.16 323 8.7
Total 14.217 3949 13.447 3735 13180 3661 13426 3729
German nuclear power foreclosure

Following the collapse of confidence in the nuclear industry’s safety assurances in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, Germany immediately began a dramatic nuclear foreclosure programme, planning a complete exit from nuclear electricity and thermal generation by 2022. This is for a range reasons: safety, environmental, financial, social, political, but also most tellingly, financial.

8 plants, in operation since 1975-1984, were shut down in 2011. They were therefore aged between 27 and 36 years. 7 of these will be dismantled and disposed of by 2020, and the 8th by 2032.

Here is a list of the remaining 9 German reactors and their respective decommissioning dates:

Name Op. Closure Type Output (gross el.) Owner
Grafenrheinfeld 1982 2015 PWR (III)* 1.345 GW E.ON
Gundremmingen B 1984 2017 Boiling water reactor 1.344 GW KGG
Philippsburg 2 1985 2019 PWR 1.468 GW
Gundremmingen C 1985 2021 BWR 1.344 GW KGG
Grohnde 1985 2021 PWR 1.360 GW GGG
Brokdorf 1986 2021 PWR 1.480 GW E.ON (80 %) und Vattenfall (20 %)
Isar 2 1988 2022 PWR(IV)* 1.485 GW E.ON
Emsland 1988 2022 PWR(IV)* 1.406 GW KKW Lippe-Ems
Neckarwestheim 2 1989 2022 PWR (IV)* 1.400 GW EnBW

* III = third generation; IV = fourth generation

BWR = Boiling Water Reactor; PWR = Pressurised Water Reactor

The decommissioning and disposal phase of these 9 reactors will last till 2035. The total number of reactors being decommissioned by 2035 is 17, at a cost of around 45 billion euro. As of end of 2015, there is a shortfall in decommissioning fund provisions of at least 8 billion euro.

Gundremmingen Nuclear Power Station

Gundremmingen Nuclear Power Station. Photo courtesy of Felix Koenig

Heating Systems in New Residences

New accommodation in Germany (%)

Year Methane Heat pump District heating Electricity Heating oil Wood/Pellets
2000 76.7 0.8 7.0 <1 13.4 0
2005 74.0 5.4 8.6 <1 6.4 3.0
2010 50.2 23.5 14.6 <1 1.8 5.0
2015 49.4 20.4 20.0 <1 0.6 5.5

Data source: AG Energiebilanzen e.V. 3-Quarter Report 2015

Windpark

Around 15% of Germany’s wind energy is now offshore