04 Mar 2020, 13:47
Benjamin Wehrmann

Quick renewables boom required to cushion Germany's nuclear and coal exit – think tank

Clean Energy Wire

Germany must move quickly to get its renewables expansion back on track if the country wants to avoid a "green power gap," forcing it to rely on power imports or fossil reserve capacities as it phases out nuclear and coal power in the next years, according to an analysis by energy policy think tank Agora Energiewende* seen by Clean Energy Wire. The government's goal of supplying 65 percent of Germany’s power consumption with renewables by 2030 will remain out of reach if the renewables expansion, especially of onshore wind power, are not ramped up significantly as early as 2021. Otherwise, Germany can at best hope to achieve a share of 55 percent renewable power by the end of the decade. Even that figure could only be reached if the expansion of onshore wind power doubles by 2023 from 2019 levels, when turbine construction dropped to the lowest rate in two decades. The country currently sources about 43 percent of its power from renewables, with onshore wind providing by far the largest share. If the 2030 share of renewables is only 55 percent, power prices could reach a level of 5 to 10 euros per megawatt hour, while CO2 emissions would likely be 20 million tonnes higher than planned. In order to avoid the looming renewables gap as Germany's power demand increases, the think tank said offshore wind power would need to grow to at least 25 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, while onshore wind power by at least 4 GW and solar power by 10 GW per year over the next ten years.

Researchers from the Institute of Energy Economics at the University of Cologne (EWI) warned in January that gross power consumption could rise by up to 26 percent over the next 10 years and Germany’s renewables expansion will be unable to keep up with future demand at current growth rates. The renewable power gap could arise due to e-mobility, electrification of the heating sector and other energy transition effects, which could push power demand to 748 terawatt hours (TWh), compared to 595 TWh in 2018. Meanwhile, the German government has projected that gross power consumption will fall by 5 TWh by 2030.

*Like Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.

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