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Bad year for renewables in Germany

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This is information that comes at a bad time for the new ruling coalition, which aims to cover 80% of Germany’s electricity needs with renewable energies by 2030. They represented 42% of consumption this year (30% in France), compared to 45.3% last year. This drop is the first since 1997, according to the Federal Environment Agency (UBA).

Lack of wind and less sun

The recovery in economic activity, which has led to greater demand for electricity, partly explains this situation. But not only. The production of renewables fell by 5%, to reach 237 TWh, compared to 250 TWh in 2020.

Wind power, which represents about half of the total, fell by 11% due to lack of wind, “especially in the first trimester”, underlines the report of the UBA published on December 15. Photovoltaics, on the other hand, only progressed by “only 1%”, despite the commissioning of “many new facilities”, because of a less sunny weather, recalls the study. The only good note is the 9% increase over one year in the consumption of renewable energy for heating, particularly wood.

More than doubling production by 2030

The publication of these figures comes a week after the entry into office of the new German government led by the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, with the Liberals and the Greens and sounds like a reminder of the magnitude of the task.

The coalition wants to accelerate the end of coal, brought forward to 2030 instead of 2038, “ ideally “, however, specifies the agreement signed between the various parties in power. The phase-out of nuclear power is still scheduled for the end of 2022.

→ MAINTENANCE. “The early exit from coal in Germany will also have consequences for France”

In compensation, it aims for 200 GW of solar power by the end of the decade, against 54 GW installed today and intends to devote 2% of German territory to onshore wind power. Renewable production would thus be increased to 600 TWh.

But this volume “cannot be achieved at the current rate of development” infrastructure, warns Dirk Messner, the president of the UBA, quoted in the press release, claiming “ quickly applicable measures in the coming years to build more wind and photovoltaic installations”.

The new high voltage lines go wrong

The task will be complicated. As in France, the acceptability of wind power has deteriorated across the Rhine and the examination times for the construction of new farms have lengthened. The construction of high-voltage lines linking wind farms in the north (particularly at sea) to the south of the country, where many industries are located, also continues to pose a problem.

The authorities have launched in recent years more than a hundred projects for new power lines, totaling some 12,000 kilometers. But more and more residents are opposed to the installation of electricity pylons near their homes. In 2021, only 120 kilometers have been built in this way, despite measures aimed at simplifying administrative procedures and limiting the possibilities of appeal.

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