The share of renewable energy in Germany’s Power Generation climbed to 50.5 percent in 2020 [net]. This makes Renewables the most important energy source in the county’s power mix.
Electricity generation in Germany has been declining for years and in 2020 [with 488 TWh] the trend continued by -5.4% compared to the previous year. Part of this decrease was caused by lower demand during the coronavirus pandemic.
246 terawatt hours of green electricity were flowing into the German public grid in 2020. Overall it was an increase of 4% to the previous year  and 103% more than 10 years ago .
Wind power generated more than a quarter [27%] of all electricity in Germany and accounted for the biggest share in the power mix. Due to exceptional weather conditions, with lots of wind during the first quarter a total of 131.7 TWh were fed into the grid in 2020, almost 4.7% more than last year. With this year’s result, wind consolidated its position as the most important energy source in the German electricity mix. German wind turbines delivered far more electricity than any fossil source and even more than lignite and hard coal power plants combined [118 TWh]. Best month was February with a 45% share of wind power in the mix [20.6 TWh]. The record day was February 22nd, 2020 with a maximum wind power output of 46,000 MW.
Wind power is Germany’s leading energy source at 27%
TWh terawatt hours = bn kWh billion kilowatt hours
Electricity Generation Germany 2020
|Energy source||in TWh=bn kWh||in %|
|Power generation 2020 [net]||488 Mrd. kWh|
The summer with above-average sunshine hours ensured a significant increase in solar power generation and set new records. Solar systems fed 50.7 terawatt hours into the public grid, more than ever and 6.7% more than in the year before. This result placed solar power fifth in the electricity mix.
Due to the sunny conditions solar power production peaked in April, May and July with more than 7 TWh per month what made the sun the second most important source at the time.
At 18.3 TWh, the electricity generation from hydropower was below the value of the previous year [20.6 TWh]. The annual feed-in from hydropower plants has varied around a value of 20 TWh for years due to weather conditions, as the installed hydropower capacity hardly changes.
The generation of electricity from biomass has also fluctuated around the same level for about 6 years. About 45.5 TWh of electricity was generated from biomass in 2020. Compared to 2019 [43.9 TWh], the value increased by 3.7% and placed biomass sixth in the electricity mix, ahead of hard coal.
Fossil fuels have, and continue to play a dominant role in the German Power Generation Mix although they suffered major losses in 2020.
The reason for the new record year of Renewable Energy is of course an increased generation, but the strong gain in the electricity mix is partly due to the decrease in electricity consumption due to the Corona restrictions in spring as the electricity demand from industry consumers fell. Some fossil plant operators had to reduce their electricity generation significantly, as renewables have priority when being fed into the public grid.
The associated low electricity prices at the energy exchange made many lignite-fired power plants unprofitable, which are already working at the limits of economic efficiency, due to their high CO₂ emission costs.
The share of lignite in the electricity mix fell to 16.8% in 2020. In 2019 it was just under 20%. Electricity production from hard coal also fell sharply. In 2020 it only had a share of 7.3%. German coal-fired power plants produced a total of 118 TWh. That is a drop of 22% compared to the previous year [151 TWh]. Nevertheless, lignite remains the second most important energy source in the electricity mix.
According to the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE one megawatt hour of electricity generated by lignite produces about one ton of carbon dioxide emissions. Therefore, lignite-fired plants no longer operate profitably when the CO₂ price (Euro/ton) is near the market price of electricity per MWh.
Due to the high emissions involved in generating electricity from coal and the lower CO₂ certificate costs for natural gas power plants, a so-called “fuel switch” from coal to natural gas took place in 2020. German gas power plants increased their production to 59 TWh, a rise of 11.8% over the previous year [53 TWh].
There was also a decline in net electricity production from nuclear power plants. The output [60.9 TWh] fell by 14.2% compared to the previous year, but still secured third place in the mix.
The average volume-weighted day-ahead electricity price declined 19 percent to 29.52 €/MWh from 36.64 €/MWh in 2019.
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