21 Feb 2020, 14:24
Benjamin Wehrmann

Bavaria's renewable capacity growing as nuclear plant shutdown boosts power imports

Clean Energy Wire

Power generation with solar panels and bioenergy plants has reached a new record level in Bavaria, the German state's economy ministry has said. Final data for 2018 showed that solar power production grew by 4.5 percent that year to reach nearly 12 terawatt hours (TWh), while production with bioenergy reached 9.2 TWh, 0.2 percent more than in 2017. "The energy transition is right on our doorstep," said Bavaria's economy minister Hubert Aiwanger, adding that the looming solar power support cap had to be removed and new land designated for solar panel installation to ensure that renewables could continue to grow in the state. However, the shutdown of nuclear power plant Gundremmingen B and a particularly dry year in 2018, which substantially reduced hydropower production, meant that Bavaria had to import large volumes of electricity for the first time ever in that year. Gross power production dropped from nearly 85 TWh to just under 74 TWh between 2017 and 2018, meaning that the economic powerhouse state had to import 10 TWh to cover its demand, a situation "that has never existed before," the ministry says. Aiwanger said the "power generation gap" would grow further once Bavaria's two remaining nuclear plants go offline at the end of 2021 and 2022, respectively. "The figures show that we all need to pull together to ensure a sustainable energy supply," Aiwanger said.

While Bavaria is Germany's leading state in solar and bioenergy production, its government has been criticised for almost completely rejecting the expansion of onshore wind power, Germany's most important renewable energy source, and for complicating the construction of power transmission lines needed to transport huge volumes of wind power from the north to industrial centres in the south. Minister Aiwanger reassured citizens that the end of nuclear power in Germany in 2022 will not compromise energy supply security, arguing that vanishing nuclear power capacity could be replaced with gas power and imports from neighbouring European countries.

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