The share of renewable energies in the generation of electricity in Germany rose last year to a record level of 23.4 percent (2012: 22.8 percent). Whilst electricity generated from photovoltaics attained a new high, with an increase of 7.3 percent, the proportion generated by wind decreased by 3.5 percent due to unfavorable weather conditions. Consequently, wind represented 7.9 percent of electricity production (2012: 8.0), biomass 6.8 (6.3), photovoltaics 4.5 (4.2), water 3.4 (3.5) and municipal waste 0.8 (0.8) percent. These figures come from preliminary estimates of the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) for the year 2013.
Regardless of the necessary, continued expansion of the proportion accounted for by renewable energies, the fundamental need for reform of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz, EEG), as far as the development of costs is concerned, remains. "The necessary reform of the EEG is a core responsibility of the new German Federal Government for 2014. What the parties have set out in the coalition agreement will not be enough. Bolder action is required in relation to the design of the legislation and the timetables involved. The focus in future, as far as the subsidisation of renewables is concerned, must be on cost efficiency. Therefore, I can only hope that the plan of the new government to present a fundamental reform of the EEG by Easter, can actually be implemented", said Hildegard Müller, Chairwoman of the General Executive Management Board of the BDEW, in Berlin today.
The share of natural gas in electricity generation once again fell sharply in 2013 from 12.1 to 10.5 percent as the profitable operation of natural gas fired power stations was often no longer possible, according to the BDEW. In the first ten months alone, the use of natural gas in power stations for the production of electricity and heat once more declined by over 13 percent. In those power stations which produce only electricity and no heating, the use of natural gas even collapsed by a third (33.6 percent). Nuclear energy accounted for a 15.4 percent (15.8) share of electricity generation. Antracite power plants contributed an estimated 19.7 percent (18.5). The largest share of electricity generation was still from lignite fired power stations with 25.8 percent (25.5). Heating oil, pumped storage and other plants accounted for 5.2 percent (5.3).
According to the BDEW, the reasons for these developments in conventional power plant output are both the increasing deployment of renewable energies for electricity generation as well as the continuing differences between coal and gas prices and the resulting, respective, electricity generation costs. On the one side, this ensures that gas fired power stations in Germany, as well as in other European countries, are increasingly being forced out of the merit order, that is to say, down the ranking of power station usage according to profitability. On the other side, the price of German electricity is currently attractive to other countries.
These effects and the central geographical location of Germany within the EU are the basic reasons for the increase in physical electricity flows abroad in 2013. Preliminary BDEW figures reveal a net excess flow of electricity out of the country of around 33 billion kilowatt hours (2012: 23 billion Kwh). In past years, the largest volume of electricity leaving Germany has gone to the Netherlands. However, this does not necessarily mean that this entire amount was consumed in that country. A certain proportion of the electricity, for example, would have continued as transit flows to other countries, including Belgium or Great Britain, the BDEW stated.
The substantial flows of electricity from Germany to other countries is also an indication that the European internal energy market is working. Hildegard Müller: "These figures on electricity trading should specifically not be taken as evidence for a reassuring situation in Germany as can be seen by the high number of applications to the German Federal Network Agency to shut down power stations. The currently high flows abroad do not mean that there is an excess of electricity everywhere at all times. Electricity must be available at all times and in all places. Power station capacities must be sufficient at all times to cover the peak demands of electricity customers. The situation in terms of power stations thus requires urgent political action. We have already submitted our proposals in this area."
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