Renewables contribute to Germany’s stronger-than-expected electricity export performance


New research by Fraunhofer ISE appears to go some way towards disproving that Germany is “dumping” surplus energy from renewables on to its neighbours.

Exporting electricity is expected to earn Germany up to €2 billion in revenues this year, up from €1.7 billion in 2014, according to the research institute, which has produced a series of graphical representations of Germany’s energy trading statistics.

The data, taken from federal sources, shows also that overall, export prices have been higher than the price of imports from other countries into Germany. In 2015, the country is expected to export around 40TWh of surplus electricity, according to Fraunhofer’s Professor Bruno Burger, earning revenues of between €1.5 billion and €2 billion for this year.

Fraunhofer ISE said the figures contradicted the argument that Germany is selling its surplus electricity to foreign countries at “dumping” prices. “Over the past years, Germany was able to secure higher prices for its electricity exports than it paid for electricity imports,” Burger said.

The results show that despite racing ahead into renewable energy development much earlier than many other countries, “major efforts in renewable energy expansion are still drastically needed”, said Burger, who specialises in power electronics and control systems.

In the years between 2010 and 2014, Burger and his team found, nuclear energy production has fallen in Germany by 41TWh each year. From 133TWh in 2010, it fell to 92TWh in 2014. In that same period, renewables including solar, wind and biomass increased production by 118TWh annually. Meanwhile, the export surplus in 2010 was around 18TWh, rising to 36TWh in 2014.

However, despite these seemingly positive recent trends, solar energy deployment in particular has stalled in Germany. There is a controversial tender process for large-scale solar taking place over the next three years, limiting ground-mounted deployment to within 1.2GW of new capacity, while residential installation figures are falling, bolstered only by the increase in energy storage systems that allow homeowners to self-consume their PV power.

“Major efforts in renewable energy expansion are still drastically needed in order to replace the remaining nuclear power plants and to reduce the electricity production from coal-fired plants, which are especially damaging to the climate,” Burger said.

Fraunhofer has hosted the data on the interactive website “Energy Charts”, which represents Germany's power and energy production and market information interactively. 

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