Electricity is physically exchanged with nine neighbouring countries – Denmark, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland and Sweden. In 2015, Germany posted an export surplus of more than 51.8 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity exchanged. Germany has the highest installed power plant capacity in Europe and also generates and consumes the most electricity.
Where does Germany’s electricity come from?
Currently, there are generating facilities with a net rating totalling around 204.5 gigawatts (current as of May 2016, BNetzA List of Power Plants). Of this, renewable energy sources account for about 98 GW, of which about 39 GW is generated from solar and just under 45 GW from wind power. The installed capacity of photovoltaic and wind power units together already adds up to around 84 GW.
However, this capacity is not the same as the output available on the electricity market to meet demand at any given time, as the latter depends on the weather conditions. In order to ensure that the electricity supply remains secure when there is no wind or sun, electricity from conventional power stations is used, or stored / buy-back electricity (bought by consumers who are able to use electricity flexibly) is consumed. When this is the case, around 52 per cent of electricity comes from conventional power stations.
Renewables becoming ever more important in electricity generation
In 2015, nearly 188 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity were generated from renewable energy sources. This compares to 156 billion kilowatt-hours in 2014. This enabled renewables to build substantially on their leading position in the electricity mix, ahead of lignite, reaching a share of 31.6 % of gross electricity consumption (2014: 27.3 %). According to preliminary figures from the Working Group on Energy Balances, the percentage of renewables in gross electricity consumption in the the first half of the 2016 was 32.8 %. This share may, however, have changed over the second half of the year.
Coal and gas – we can't get by without them
In Germany, around 647 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity were generated in 2015. Despite an increasing contribution from the renewable energies, the share of lignite and hard coal in the energy sources mix in the German power supply remains high.
|Energy sources||2012||2013||2014||2015||2016 |
|bn kWh||%||bn kWh||%||bn kWh||%||bn kWh||%||bn kWh||%|
|Gross electricity generation Total||628,6||100||637,7||100||626,7||100||646,9||100||648,2||100|
|Hard coal||116,4||18,5||127,3 ||19,9||118,6||18,9||117,70||18,2||110,0||17,0|
|Domestic refuse ||5,0||0,8||5,4||0,9||6,1||1,0||5,8||0,9||6,1||1,0|
|Other energy sources||19,9||2,1||20,4||3,2||21,2||3,4||21,5||3,3||22,3||3,4|
1) Preliminary figures inc. some estimates.
2) Generation in run-of-river and reservoir power plants and from natural inflow into pumped-storage power plants
3) Only generation from biogenic waste (approx. 50%).
4) 5.6 TWh higher than official statistics. Subsequent correction in 2015 not taken into account in official statistics for 2013.
Sources: Federal Statistical Office, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW), Statistik der Kohlenwirtschaft e.V (an organisation tasked with providing the Government with statistics from the coal industry), Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Wuerttemberg (ZSW), Working Group on Energy Balances.