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Increase in Renewable Energy Share in Germany Reaches 22% by 2023

2024-04-02

Renewable energy sources in Germany have made significant progress in contributing to the country's energy consumption. According to the Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt), the share of renewable energy in the sectors of electricity, heat, and transportation will reach a total of 22% in 2023. While the share of renewable energy in electricity consumption already exceeds 50%, there is still room for improvement in the heat (18.8%) and transportation (7.3%) sectors.

 

Record-Breaking Renewable Electricity Generation

 

In 2023, Germany achieved a historic milestone in renewable electricity generation. The country produced 272.4 terawatt-hours (TWh) of renewable electricity, an increase of 7% compared to the previous year. This represents the highest amount of renewable electricity ever generated. At the same time, there was a 5% decrease in overall electricity consumption due to economic factors. As a result, the share of renewable energy in gross electricity consumption reached a record value of 51.8%.

 

The main driver behind this development was the production of wind energy and photovoltaics, accounting for three-quarters of the renewable electricity generated. Favorable weather conditions and the addition of 3.028 gigawatts (GW) of wind power capacity contributed to a 14% increase in electricity generation, totaling 142.1 TWh. In 2022, wind energy produced 124.8 TWh in Germany, establishing its position as the most significant source of energy in the German electricity mix. In 2023, wind energy surpassed the combined electricity generation of coal-fired power plants.

 

Photovoltaic Contribution Shows Minor Growth

 

The contribution of photovoltaics to electricity consumption in Germany saw a slight increase. Despite average weather conditions compared to the exceptionally sunny previous year, the addition of new solar installations compensated for any potential decrease. Overall, the capacity of the PV installation park increased by 14.595 GW, a 22% rise compared to 2022. Consequently, solar electricity generation slightly increased to a total of 61.2 TWh. In 2022, photovoltaic systems generated 60.3 TWh of electricity.

 

Other Renewable Energy Sources

 

Besides wind and solar power, the renewable energy sector in Germany also includes hydropower, biomass, and geothermal energy. In 2023, hydropower contributed 19.6 TWh of electricity, an 11% increase compared to the previous year. However, the electricity generation from biomass decreased by approximately 5% (49.3 TWh in 2023 compared to 51.7 TWh in 2022). Geothermal energy remained stable at a low level of 0.2 TWh.

 

Overall, these developments highlight the significant progress made by Germany in terms of renewable energy generation. The increasing share of renewable energy in the country's energy consumption demonstrates the effectiveness of policies and investments in this sector. With ongoing efforts, Germany aims to further increase the contribution of renewable energy sources and continue its transition to a sustainable and low-carbon future.

 

Achieving Renewable Energy Goals in Germany

 

To achieve the national goals set forth by the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) and the targets established at the European level by the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), it is crucial to focus on increasing the installation of new onshore and offshore wind energy systems, alongside the already progressing expansion of photovoltaic systems.

 

Dominance of Biomass in Renewable Heat Production

 

In 2023, biomass continued to be the primary source of renewable heat, accounting for 83 percent (170.6 TWh) of the total renewable heat production. This was followed by 25.7 TWh generated from geothermal energy (both shallow and deep) and environmental heat (particularly heat pumps), making up 12.5 percent. While biomass remained relatively stable compared to the previous year (2022: 171.9 TWh), the utilization of geothermal and environmental heat increased significantly by 18.3 percent. This growth can be attributed to the increased sales of heat pumps. Additionally, solar thermal energy contributed approximately 4.4 percent with 9.1 TWh, slightly lower than the previous year (2022: 4.8 percent). However, there was a decrease in the installation of solar thermal systems in 2023.

 

The overall production of renewable heat marginally increased compared to the previous year (2023: 205.5 TWh, 2022: 203.3 TWh). However, due to the mild weather conditions and a weakened economy, the total heat demand declined by 6 percent compared to 2022. Consequently, the share of renewable energy sources in the heat sector increased to 18.8 percent (2022: 17.5 percent).

 

Electrification Driving Renewable Energy Growth in the Transportation Sector

 

In 2023, a total of 35.2 TWh of biofuels were used in the transportation sector, representing a 2 percent increase from the previous year (Biodiesel: +1 percent, Bioethanol: +3 percent, Biomethane: +19 percent). Biofuels accounted for almost 82 percent of the consumption of renewable energy sources in the transportation sector. The higher electricity consumption, particularly in road transportation (2.5 TWh to 3.7 TWh), combined with a higher share of renewable sources in the electricity mix, significantly increased the consumption of renewable electricity in the transportation sector.

 

Compared to the previous year, the consumption of renewable electricity in the transportation sector increased by 21 percent to a total of approximately 7.9 TWh in 2023. Meanwhile, the total energy consumption in the transportation sector amounted to 587.8 TWh, representing a 1 percent decrease compared to the previous year. Renewable energy sources contributed approximately 43.2 TWh to this total, accounting for 7.3 percent of the energy consumption in the mobility sector (2022: 6.9 percent).

 

The Rise of Renewable Energy Investments in 2023

 

Renewable energy investments have experienced significant growth in 2023, reaching a total of 36.6 billion euros (compared to 22.3 billion euros in 2022). This increase can be attributed to the strong growth in photovoltaic and geothermal/heat pump technologies.

 

The Impact of Renewable Energy on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

 

The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources plays a crucial role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Expanding renewable energy is therefore a vital measure for climate protection. According to preliminary calculations, renewable energy accounted for a reduction of 250 million tons of CO2 equivalents in 2023. This includes approximately 195 million tons from the electricity sector, 44 million tons from the heating sector, and around 11 million tons from the use of biofuels in transportation.

 

Economic Impacts from Operations

 

The economic benefits resulting from the operation of these renewable energy systems amounted to 23.1 billion euros in 2023 (compared to 23.9 billion euros in 2022), demonstrating a stable contribution to the economy. These economic impacts encompass expenditures for maintenance, operation, and upkeep of the systems, as well as revenues from the sale of biofuels.

 

By Investing in renewable energy sources, we not only contribute to a sustainable future but also experience positive economic and environmental effects.

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