Energy transition 2015: light and shadow

Energy transition 2015: light and shadow

Electricity production of renewable energy carriers in billions of kilowatt-hours (terawatt-hours; english representation of decimal numbers, the dots in the numbers are to be read as commas). Figures for 2015 are not yet complete. Image: fraunhofer ise

The energy and climate newsreel: annual review i. A partly successful, partly turbulent year for the sun, wind co

On the global scale, renewable energy sources are beginning to assert themselves. But the fast-growing markets are mostly outside europe. In the eu, including germany, the balance of the year is rather mixed.

In this country, the expansion of wind energy made further progress, especially offshore. On land, the pace seems to have slowed again after the record year of 2014 – turbines with a total capacity of 4.75 gigawatts (gw) were installed – but precise figures are not yet available. Around 150.000 people work for manufacturers, suppliers and in maintenance, according to the german wind energy association.

Currently, electricity from new onshore turbines is paid 8.9 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first five years and 4.95 cents for the following years. At locations with less wind, the period for the initial compensation is slightly extended. From the beginning of next year, the tariffs for electricity generated by new plants will be reduced by 0.4 percent per quarter. The degression steps can vary depending on whether the expansion corridor of 2.4 to 2.6 gw per year is exceeded or not.

For the large offshore wind farms, where this year for the first time there was a noticeable increase in the number of wind turbines, the remuneration is regulated differently. Here, an initial remuneration of 15.4 cents per kilowatt hour is paid for the first 12 years and 3.9 cents per kilowatt hour for the following eight years. The period for the initial payment can be extended due to the greater distance from the coast and the greater depth of water at the site. In addition, it is possible to opt for a higher initial tariff, which is paid over a shorter period of time.

Solar expansion sluggish

The situation for the biogas and solar industry is less rosy. At the end of october, solar installations with a total capacity of just under 39.6 gw were registered with the federal network agency. This was just 1.36 gw more than at the beginning of the year and represents a drastic slowdown compared to the boom years 2009 to 2011. During this time, the number of jobs at the manufacturers and installers decreased from once around 130.000 to 30.000 back.

The tariff for new systems connected to the grid in december 2015 ranges from 8.53 cents per kilowatt-hour (ground-mounted systems and larger systems on non-residential buildings) to 12.31 cents per kilowatt-hour (systems on residential buildings with a capacity of ten kilowatts or less).

In the last three months, the tariff for electricity from new solar installations had not been reduced further due to the low level of new installations. No figures are yet available for the new year, but the rates will probably remain constant.

Energy transition 2015: light and shade

Cumulative capacities in gigawatts. The data for 2015 are preliminary and incomplete. Figure fraunhofer ise

In addition to low feed-in tariffs and the levies on self-consumption introduced in 2014 (berlin coalition rejected solar expansion), new regulations for ground-mounted systems are also hampering the construction of new solar plants. Plants with a coarse rating of 100 kilowatts (0.1 megawatts) or more are now only required if they are awarded a contract in a tendering process.

Several times a year, the federal network agency invites tenders for a certain volume of services, for which interested parties can apply. The precondition is that the bidders have already submitted the necessary building law and other applications for a specific location.

Plants on arable land will only be admitted to the procedure in exceptional cases, provided they are located in "disadvantaged regions" or are located in the margins of highways and railroad lines.

Tenders

A pilot procedure was launched in january, but by mid-december the third bidding procedure had already been completed. In total, 518 megawatts (0.518 gw) were awarded. All tenders were oversubscribed several times, i.E. Bids were submitted for a significantly higher capacity than was advertised.

The accepted projects will now be paid 8.41 to 9.43 cents per kilowatt hour for the next 20 years, depending on the project and the bidding round. The corresponding figures for the third round are not yet available. The electricity must be fully fed into the grid. Self-sufficiency automatically leads to the end of the requirement.

In the run-up to the project, there was some criticism that the complicated procedure and the necessary risky upfront investments could put smaller players such as cooperatives and citizen projects at a disadvantage. Experience so far seems to confirm this.

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