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Electricity from renewables topped coal in Germany for first time in 2018

Michael J. Coren
By Michael J. Coren

Climate reporter

Coal is now in Germany’s rear-view mirror. In 2018, 40% of the country’s electricity mix came from wind, solar, biomass and hydroelectric sources. That’s up 4.3 percentage points over 2017, and topped coal generation (38% of the total) for the first time, according to the Fraunhofer research group. The bulk of the clean power came from onshore and offshore wind capacity (20.4% of total output) and solar (8.4% of total output).

Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is steadily retiring its coal and nuclear power plants as it seeks to cut carbon emissions over the coming decades. The country will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% next year, and by 95% in 2050, compared to 1990 levels.

Fraunhofer says clean power’s share of Germany’s energy mix is likely to stay above 40% in 2019, reports Reuters. Despite critics’ claims that unusually favorable weather boosted solar output in 2018, more renewable power sources are coming online and weather patterns are expected to remain relatively stable.

Countries throughout Europe are finding they can adopt renewables faster than they once thought as renewable energy prices fall, energy storage expands, and system operators manage weeks or even months with 100% renewables on their power grids. Last March, Portugal’s renewable electricity generation exceeded the country’s monthly consumption for the first time. Now, the country predicts renewables will satisfy its mainland electricity needs by 2040, eliminating the electricity sector’s greenhouse gas emissions.

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