07 Apr 2017, 00:00
Benjamin Wehrmann

Renewables grow globally at cheaper cost / Solar cell record

Frankfurt School - UNEP Collaborating Centre / BNEF

Countries around the world have added record volumes of new renewable power capacities at cheaper prices, according to a joint report by the Frankfurt School – UNEP Collaborating Centre and Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Expenditures for new renewables fell by 23 percent but capacity increased by 138.5 gigawatts (GW) in 2016, nine percent more than in the previous year. Investments in Europe grew by 3 percent to nearly 60 billion dollars. In Germany, expenditures fell by 14 percent to 13.2 billion dollars, still making it the second biggest investor in renewable energies in Europe after the UK (24 billion dollars), the report says. Avergage dollar capital expenditure per megawatt for solar photovoltaics and wind dropped by over 10 percent, it adds. "After the dramatic cost reductions of the past few years, unsubsidised wind and solar can provide the lowest cost new electrical power in an increasing number of countries," BNEF's chairman Michael Liebreich said.

Find the report’s key findings in English here.

Find a press release in English here.

For background, see the CLEW factsheet Germany’s energy consumption and power mix in charts.

Welt Online

German offshore wind power costs are set to fall significantly, due to industrialisation of the sector, more efficient turbine construction, the switch from feed-in tariffs to auctions, and better coordination with grid operators, Olaf Preuß writes for Welt Online. At an industry conference in Hamburg, Vattenfall wind power head Gunnar Groebler said the Swedish energy company’s successful bid of 50 euros per megawatt hour (mWh) to build the Kriegers Flak offshore wind park in the Baltic Sea would be “a profitable project.” For installations still eleigible for guaranteed renewables support, Germany pays 110 euros/mWh including grid fees to investors for 20 years, Preuß explains.

See the article in German here.

tageszeitung (taz)

The Fraunhofer ISE institute in the southern German town of Freiburg has set a new world record for the most efficient solar cell, Bernward Janzing reports for tageszeitung (taz). The cell converts 21.9 percent of absorbed sunlight into electricity. Yet the team of researchers is already keen to break their own record. In laboratory tests, multi-layer cells have reached yield ratios of up to 46 percent. Still, a question remains over “what degree of efficiency could be guaranteed in mass production”, Janzing writes.

Read the article in German here

See the CLEW dossier New technologies for the Energiewende for additional information.

Spiegel Online

German officials said they regretted state-controlled French energy supplier EDF’s decision to postpone its decision over the decommissioning of the 40-year-old Fessenheim nuclear plant until at least next year, Spiegel Online reports. Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, parliamentary state secretary in Germany’s environment ministry (BMUB), called EDF’s decision a “huge disappointment” and a “missed chance”. The Green Party’s nuclear energy expert Sylvia Kotting-Uhl said keeping the plant near the German border running was an “affront” that showed the nuclear lobby’s sway over the French government, the article says.

Read the article in German here.

For more information, see the CLEW dossier The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out.

Welt Online / dpa

Welt Online / dpa

East German state premier criticises power price differences

Once again, an eastern German state premier has criticised regional discrepancies in the power price, dpa news agency reports in an article carried by Welt Online. Brandenburg’s Social Democrat premier Dietmar Woidke said eastern Germany paid “significantly more” than western federal states, with important impacts for economic development, particularly for energy-intensive industries in the east.
Grid fees account for around a quarter of the power price and are higher in sparsely populated regions, as well as areas where the grid has to be expanded to cope with newly installed renewable energy facilities.

Find the article in German here.

 For background, see the CLEW factsheet Grid fees – unfair and opaque?.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Germany’s Technical Inspection Authority (TÜV) increasingly relies on drones to inspect solar power and on- and offshore wind parks, Michael Kuntz writes in Süddeutsche Zeitung. After a two-year trial phase, drones have proven to be very efficient for gathering data on and identify maintenance needs, he explains.

Find the article in German here (behind paywall).

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