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German coal-fired power generation at post-Fukushima low

World Coal,

Falling demand for electricity, coupled with rising renewable power output, weighed on German thermal power generation for Q1 2014, as hard coal0fired production fell to its lowest level since 2011.

Gas-fired power generation was also hit, as it fell by 30.8% year-on-year to 10.4 TWh in Q1, data from research institute Fraunhofer Ise show. This was the lowest level of gas-fired generation for four years, according to the data.

Hard coal-fired generation fell by 18% year-on-year to 26.9 TWh in Q1, falling from 32.5 TWh in the same period last year and largely on par with the 26.2 TWh produced in 2011.

In March 2011, Germany’s previous government ordered eight nuclear reactors to shut down, following the Japanese nuclear crisis at Fukushima following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  Six of these eight reactors were online for most of Q1 2011.

The capacity utilisation of hard coal-fired plants fell to 58.6% in Q1 of this year, from 71.3% in 2013 and over 63% in 2012 and 2011.

Nuclear power generation was relatively stable year on year in the first quarter, falling by 4.6% to 25 TWh. The capacity utilisation of 98.2% was largely unchanged compared with the same period in 2011 – 13. Lignite-fired generation fell by 6.7% year-on-year to 36.7 TWh in Q1, with capacity utilisation at 89.7%, slightly lower than the 91.9% in 2013 but rising by one percentage point from 2012 and 2011.

Rising renewable power generation

Thermal power generation, especially from gas and hard coal, came under pressure from rising renewable power production. Wind power generation rose by 31.5% year-on-year to 17.1 TWh in Q1, while solar power generation rose by 72.7% to 5.7 TWh. Lower cross-border demand weighed on German thermal power generation as the mild winter season curbed heating demand in neighbouring countries. German power exports fell to 13.4 TWh in Q1 2014, from 20.7 TWh in the same period in 2013, according to Fraunhofer Ise. Imports rose slightly to 11.4 TWh, compared with 9.3 TWh in 2013. Germany's net exports fell sharply to just 2 TWh in Q1, from 11.4 TWh in 2013, according to Fraunhofer Ise.

Separately, data from the German research institute showed that Germany in January installed around 205 MW of new onshore wind capacity, rising from around 119 MW installed in January 2013. Total onshore wind power capacity stood at 33,818 MW as of the end of January. German grid regulator Bnetza today revealed that Germany added around 110 MW in new solar power capacity in February, with total installed capacity standing at 35,996 MW at the end of the month. Solar power capacity has slowed down markedly in 2013 and so far in 2014 compared with previous years following reforms to solar power feed-in tariffs and a slowdown in demand for larger installations.

Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson

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