Renewables (wind energy and solar power) contribute 27 pct of German electricity consumption in Q1

Renewable energy contributed 27 percent of total electricity consumption in the first quarter of 2014, hitting record as the Europe’s largest economy is on its ambitious path of energy transformation, an energy lobby group said on Friday.

The production of electricity from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, reached 40.2 billion kilowatt hours in the first three months, said Federal Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) in a statement.

According to the Berlin-based group’s calculation, the “green electricity” output was 35.7 billion kilowatt hours during the same period of previous year, when the renewables contributed 23 percent of total power demand.

Wind turbines generated about 19 percent more electricity in the first quarter of 2014 than a year earlier, while nearly 70 percent more power were produced from photovoltaics, said BDEW.

It attributed the climbs to additional installations and positive weather conditions in the past months, and explained that annual average share of the renewables could be below the quarter value, as renewable energies are volatile and strongly depend on weather conditions.

Official data from German Federal Statistical Office showed that about 634 billion kilowatt hours of electricity were produced in 2013, 24 percent of which came from renewable energy sources.

Germany is seeking to increase share of green electricity in total power production to at least 80 percent by 2050. The ambitious plan, however, faces challenges including skyrocketing household power prices and resistance of residents against construction of cables which are needed to transfer electricity from the northern wind farms to the south part of the country.

Under current scheme, the expansion of green electricity is being funded by surcharges on power bills, most of which lie on the shoulders of private consumers, instead of industries.

In April, the German federal government passed a draft law to reform the Renewable Energy Sources Act in an effort to slow down the increase of cost for its energy transformation. According to the reform, no more than 2.5 gigawatts of on-shore wind and solar can be added each year, and annual expansion of offshore wind is limited to 6.5 gigawatts by 2020.

Also starting in 2017, investors of renewable energy plants will have to take more risks in the market as the guaranteed prices that they are receiving now for the green electricity they provide will come to an end by then.