Renewables become Germany’s main energy source, topping coal for first time

Renewable energy replaced coal as Germany’s main power source for the first time last year, according to Reuters.

Renewable sources of energy accounted for 40 percent of German electricity production in 2018, up from 38.2 percent in 2017 and 19.1 percent in 2010.

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Germany, the economic powerhouse of mainland Europe, aims to get 65 percent of its energy from renewables by 2030, abandon nuclear energy by 2022 and ultimately cease relying on coal, Reuters reported.

Research from the Fraunhofer organization of applied science showed that German energy supplied from solar, wind, biomass and hydroelectric generation units rose 4.3 percent last year to produce 219 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity out of 542 TWh overall. Coal produced about 38 percent of the Germany’s electricity in 2018. 

“We will not fall below the 40 percent in 2019 because more renewable installations are being built and weather patterns will not change that dramatically,” Bruno Burger, author of the Fraunhofer study, told Reuters.

However, skeptics of renewable energy say the rise is due to favorable weather patterns, such as a prolonged hot summer that increases solar output.

While brown coal powder remained the largest single energy supplier, accounting for 24.1 percent of Germany’s energy, wind power was close behind at 20.1 percent. Coal plants accounted for 13.9 percent, solar energy accounted for 8.4 percent, gas-to-power plants contributed 7.4 percent and hydropower made up 3.2 percent of Germany’s total energy supply.

Germany was reportedly a net exporter of energy in 2018, with its main recipients being the Netherlands and France.