FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German federal state Mecklenburg-Vorpommern produced enough power from renewable sources last year to satisfy its entire demand, a direct consequence of the country’s ambitious shift toward green power and away from nuclear.
Decades ahead of the targets Germany has set for its green power production, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is the first federal state to generate enough supplies from wind, solar and other sources to meet demand, a key step in the country’s efforts to reduce reliance on coal, gas and nuclear.
Triggered by the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, Germany has decided to shut down all of its nuclear stations by 2022 and boost the development of renewable energy sources instead, a plan dubbed “Energiewende”, or energy shift.
Germany’s power sector has been in turmoil, hit by a prolonged period of weak energy demand, low wholesale power prices and a surge in renewable energy sources which continue to replace gas-fired and coal-fired power plants.
The country’s decision to abandon nuclear power has put more pressure on utilities, as they will have to switch off profitable nuclear plants while spending billions on renewables.
Over the past years, favorable legislation in the form of guaranteed feed-in tariffs have led to a massive increase in wind and solar capacity in Europe’s biggest economy.
In 2013, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, located in the northeast of Germany, generated 6,817 gigawatt hours (GWh) of power from wind, solar and biogas, roughly in line with the state’s annual demand, its statistics office said.
“The power generated from renewable energy sources in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern last year could virtually meet all of the state’s demand,” the office said, adding that in 2012 the ratio had been 89 percent.
In the whole of Germany, renewables accounted for more than a quarter of gross domestic electricity demand last year, according to industry group BDEW.
“Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has already reached the German government’s target of meeting at least 80 percent of the country’s gross electricity demand through renewables by 2050,” the office said.
Overall, the state produced 11,162 GWh in 2013, it added.
A network of power grids in Germany ensures that surplus power from one state can flow to other regions if needed and vice versa, a key mechanism to guarantee security of supply.
Reporting by Christoph Steitz, editing by David Evans