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Offshore wind output beats solar for the first time in Germany

Turbines at sea produce more power than solar energy during the first quarter, new data shows

Wind turbines at sea during the first quarter of 2019 for the first time produced more power than PV panels in Germany, figures from national federation of energy and water industries BDEW, and ZWS, the centre for solar and hydrogen research in Baden-Württemberg, show.

The gross energy generation from offshore wind during the quarter surged by a third to 6.8 terawatt hours (TWh), up from 5.1TWh a year earlier – slightly more than the 6.4TWh generated by PV plants, which also went up, by 15% from 5.59TWh in the year-earlier period.

Solar power last year had accounted for 8% of Germany’s net electricity consumption, given the Northern European country one of the highest solar penetration rates in the world. Offshore wind in 2018 had accounted for less, only 3% of the country’s power needs.

Onshore wind continued to have the highest output during the first quarter of 2019, with 36.2TWh, up from 28.9TWh a year earlier.

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In total, wind and solar power increased its share in gross generation from January to March by a quarter to 49.4TWh, up from 39.6TWh a year earlier – boosted by strong winds and much sun during the quarter.

While that would be enough to power the highly industrialised state of Baden-Württemberg with its 11 million inhabitants for nearly nine months, BDEW and ZWS cautioned that there still aren’t enough high-voltage power lines linking Germany’s windy north to population and industry centres to the South.

“The shows the urgency to push forward with grid expansion and support it on all levels,” the groups said.

“Storage systems also must be built, in order to be able to use the volatile power fed in by renewable energies in line with demand.”

Germany’s parliament last week has passed an amendment to the country’s grid expansion acceleration act (NABEG) that aims at a better coordination between different planning stages, tighter deadlines, the scrapping of superfluous procedures and their simplification.

The amendment also included a passage that enables the linking of a future offshore wind test-bed in the Baltic Sea to the German grid.

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