Power generation : More electricity from coal and natural gas

Status: 07.12.2022 10:43 a.m

Despite high gas prices, power generation from natural gas rose sharply in the summer. The increase in coal-fired power was even clearer. Over a third of Germany’s electricity comes from coal-fired power plants.

Coal remains the most important source of electricity for Germany. In the third quarter, their share of German electricity generation even increased by 13.3 percent compared to the same period last year: 36.3 percent of the electricity generated in Germany and fed into the grid in the months of July to September came from coal-fired power plants, as the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden announced today.

Germany net electricity exporter to France

Despite high gas prices, electricity generation from natural gas also increased: it was 4.5 percent higher than in the same quarter of the previous year and accounted for 9.2 percent of the electricity fed into the grid. “For the first time since the second quarter of 2021, more electricity was generated from natural gas than in the same period of the previous year,” according to the statisticians.

Last but not least, this was probably due to the dramatic slump in French electricity imports by 87.9 percent. This development was mainly due to technical problems in the French nuclear power plants. 2022 will probably be the first year since statistics began in 1990 in which Germany will be a net exporter of electricity to France. Overall, the German export surplus increased from 0.5 to 3 billion kilowatt hours.

Nuclear power generation collapses

Despite the increased share of electricity from coal and natural gas, the amount of electricity generated from conventional energy sources in Germany fell by three percent year-on-year and most recently accounted for 55.6 percent of the amount of electricity fed into the grid. This was partly due to the significant decline in nuclear energy by 47.8 percent.

In the third quarter of 2022, only 7.4 percent of the electricity fed in came from nuclear energy, compared to 14.1 percent a year earlier. At the end of 2021, three of the six nuclear power plants that had been in operation until then had been shut down as part of the phase-out of nuclear energy.

Solar power share increases sharply

In contrast, the share of renewable energies in generation increased by 2.9 percent to 44.4 percent most recently. Feed-in from photovoltaic systems increased particularly significantly due to the unusually high number of hours of sunshine, with the share rising from 16 to 20.3 percent.

According to the statistics office, a total of 118.1 billion kilowatt hours of electricity were fed into the grid in Germany in the third quarter. That was 0.5 percent less than in the third quarter of last year.

Experts call for greater expansion of renewable energies

Meanwhile, a group of authors led by Ifo President Clemens Fuest has suggested using as many sources as possible for the German power supply.

“The expansion of renewable energies must be massively accelerated, as must the construction of gas-fired power plants that can later burn hydrogen,” write Fuest, his predecessor Hans-Werner Sinn, the entrepreneurs Christoph Theis and Roland Berger and ifo Chairman of the Board of Directors Peter-Alexander Wacker an essay for the “ifo Schnelldienst”.

E-cars as electricity storage?

“Nuclear power plants should only be shut down when other power plants are available that do not emit CO2,” according to the group of authors. Domestic gas production should also be expanded. In addition, pipelines in the EU and from important suppliers such as Norway, Great Britain and the countries south of the Mediterranean should be expanded.

The experts are also in favor of Germany intensifying energy cooperation with partner countries. The electricity market should be opened up comprehensively and made more flexible. Rigid regulations are currently preventing the use of decentralized generators. For example, e-cars can be used to store electricity. To compensate for very short-term fluctuations in renewable energies, this could make the construction of ten gas-fired power plants superfluous.

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