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Increasing Electricity Demand In 2021 And Impending Electricity Gap Requires Faster RE Expansion – Report

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The latest analyses of the year 2021 show an increase in electricity production and demand compared to 2020. Because of unfavorable wind conditions in 2021, the onshore wind energy fell short with only 87% of 2020 electricity production levels. The increased energy demand was especially met by energy production based on coal and lignite power plants. Because of the electrification of mobility and heat, an additional, significant rise in demand can be expected. Research projects an electricity gap of 37 TWh according to a recent analysis.

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After the pandemic-driven decline in electricity demand in 2020, the data shows a significant increase for 2021. With 505 TWh, the German energy consumption last year nearly reached 2018 levels. The energy production was at the same level with 506 TWh in 2021. Despite the continuous decline in previous years, the energy production slightly increased in a year-on-year comparison. An electricity gap is expected for the first time in 2022. While an additional increase in electricity demand is anticipated, a further decline in energy production is expected in 2022. This is due to the insufficient deployment of renewable energies on the one hand, and the progressing decommissioning of conventional power plants on the other. The research quantifies an electricity gap of around 37 TWh in 2022.

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With the end of 2021, an unusual energy year ended. The analysis of different energy sources for energy production reveals that especially wind energy plants generated between 11 percent (offshore) and 13 percent (onshore) less energy in comparison to the previous year. Among renewable energies, only photovoltaic energy production was slightly larger than in 2020. The increased energy demand was covered with conventional energy sources — especially lignite, whose capacity rose by 49 percent compared to 2021.

The data for January 2022 clearly shows the penultimate step of the nuclear phase-out. While the nationwide energy production in January 2021 and 2022 had been at similar levels with 46 and 47 TWh, the shutdown of three nuclear power plants is clearly visible at the turn of the year. Accordingly, the share of nuclear energy in the electricity supply fell by more than half from 13 percent in January 2021 to six percent in the current year. A monthly comparison shows that renewable energies were able to compensate for the decrease in nuclear energy; they contributed 28 percent more electricity compared to the corresponding month the year before.

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The federal government has recognized and embedded future energy market demands in planned actions. The challenge for 2022 and the following years will be the significant expansion of renewable energies as well as an adjustment of the framework for their integration.

“The year 2021 provides a clear idea of future developments of the energy transition. The energy demand will continue to rise significantly with an increasing electrification of mobility and heat. At the same time, the energy production based on conventional energy sources will further decrease. This requires high investments in renewable energies, but also the development of comprehensive storage capacities for short-term storage as well as seasonal storage.”, comments Dr. Martin Ammon, Managing Partner of EUPD Research.

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