German Electricity Exports on an All-time High – Lignite and Hard Coal Generation also Lower

According to recent data by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) German electricity exports increased in the first half of 2014. On their new energy charts website they report the export surplus to neighbouring countries is approx. 18 TWh after the first six months, while it had been only 14.4 TWh in the first half of 2013. Most of the electricity is exported to the Netherlands, followed by Austria, Switzerland and Poland. Especially the Netherlands and Switzerland also act as transit countries to the UK or Italy.

The total export surplus in 2013 was approx. 32.3 TWh. If the current trend continues until the end of 2014, Germany may achieve another record in electricity exports after the record-breaking years 2012 and 2013.

A reason for the all-time high is the continually increasing amount of renewable energy in the German grid. As reported by Fraunhofer ISE renewable energy sources generated 81 TWh in the first half of 2014, accounting for 31% of German electricity production. Especially the production of wind (+19%), solar (+28%) and biomass increased compared to 2013, while the production of hard coal, gas and brown coal decreased rapidly. Hard coal power plants produced approx. 11% less, lignite plants 4% less than the first half of 2013. The largest decline in production can be observed in gas power plants which produced 25% less than in Q1 and Q2 2013. Contrary to expectations by some, the increase in renewables generation also lead to a marked decrease in coal (hard coal and lignite) based electricity generation.

The new Fraunhofer ISE Energy energy charts website contains a lot of now very easily accessible energy data. It provides this information both in German and English. It is an excellent source of information very much worth a visit.

Sources: Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), Renewables International

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17 Responses to “German Electricity Exports on an All-time High – Lignite and Hard Coal Generation also Lower”

  • This post seems to state that when renewables generation increases, electricity exports increase as well. However, many people argue that it is the conventional plants in Germany which are responsible e.g. here:

    “And as I have also explained, foreign demand for German power directly increases production of conventional electricity within Germany; renewables are completely unaffected. If anything, prices on the exchange are the result of low capacity factors at conventional plants being crunched between domestic German power demand and production of renewable electricity. Germany is dumping conventional power on neighboring countries.”

    What is the truth in this matter?

  • Mutthias Leng

    According to Fraunhofer ISE, we have reduced generation of lignite (-3.1 TWh), hard coal (-6.1 TWh) and gas (-5.6 TWh), and increased production of wind (+4.2 TWh), solar (+4.0 TWh) and biomass (+1.7 TWh). This data is of course aggregated, and does not show at what time what power is generated and/or exported. Therefore, it cannot show direct causation between renewables or conventional generation and export/import at any given time. It does, however, show that record exports occured in the same 6 months as record renewables generation, with reduced conventional generation. I am not aware of publicly available data mapping imports/exports at specific times with specific renewables/conventional/nuclear generation. Even if this data would be available, I do not know how you could determine if exported power was actually “renewable”, “conventional” or “nuclear”. However, as mentioned in Craig’s article and as other Fraunhofer ISE charts seem to suggest, it looks to me as if net exports often take place at traditionally high price times, e.g. over lunch time – but this is not a legal question I have any particular knowledge about. Others are much better placed to analyze this.

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