FILE PHOTO: A wind turbine used to generate electricity is seen at the Brinkfortsheide dump near the Ruhr area city of Marl
By Vera Eckert
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Green energy is on track to overtake coal as Germany's main power source this year, with renewables set to cover a record 38 percent of the country's electricity consumption, two percent up from 2017, two energy industry groups said on Thursday.
The figures from the energy industry group BDEW and research institute ZSW confirm their forecast in early November, which predicted the increase in green power's share of electricity consumption.
Renewable production as a single category has been closing in on the contribution of individual fossil fuels in Germany since the country embarked on a path towards greater reliance on wind and solar last decade.
The renewables contribution is politically significant in Europe's biggest economy, which wants the share of renewables to reach 65 percent by 2030.
The final numbers each year depend on weather patterns, which have to produce high enough wind speeds and sunshine to fuel turbines and solar panels.
An extensive drought since the spring of 2018 resulted in a fall in hydroelectric power production by 16 percent year-on-year to a total of 17 billion kWh, the two groups noted in a statement.
But the expansion of renewables as a whole continued, allowing green power to overtake the share of imported hard coal and domestic brown coal.
The two fuels met 36 percent of power consumption in the first nine months of the year.
Germany relies on a mixture of coal, renewables, nuclear and gas for its energy.
For the full year, output from renewable power sources such as wind, solar, biomass and hydropower plants will contribute a total 229 billion kilowatt hours (kWh), the two parties said in the statement.
This accounts for 38 percent of recorded electricity usage of 599 billion kWh.
The 38 percent was made up of onshore wind supplying 16 percent, offshore wind with 3 percent, biomass with 8 percent, photovoltaics with 8 percent, hydropower with 3 percent, and waste and geothermal energy supplying 1 percent.
The share of green energy had reached 36.1 percent of consumption last year.
BDEW's managing director, Stefan Kapferer, said that Germany's 65-percent target would require further efforts to expand wind power and power transport links.
ZSW board chairman Frithjof Staiss said given the growing share of variable green power production there also needed to be improved power storage facilities and demand management.
Separately, the power industry wants the government to enforce more carbon dioxide reductions from the heat and transport sectors to help Germany to meet its climate goals.
Staiss said the car industry had not improved its CO2 record in 15 years.
(Editing by Jane Merriman)