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German Coal Recovers as Gas, Renewable Generation Drops in August



By Thomas Schumacher

September 2, 2020 - Lignite-fired power topped Germany's energy mix in August as gas and renewable generation eased on the month.

TSO data aggregated by Fraunhofer ISE shows total coal-fired generation, including hard coal, averaging over 12.5 GW in August, up 20% on the month and the highest coal output since January as emissions prices dipped during the early August heatwave.

After spiking at almost Eur30/mt in July, the near-dated December emissions contract averaged just over Eur26/mt in the first three weeks of August before climbing back up to mid-July levels by the end of the month.

The coal recovery was aided by a rise in gas prices as EEX data shows Day-ahead TTF prices averaged Eur7.42/MWh, up almost Eur3 from the July average spot price.

Gas output fell on the month for the first time since April, falling 5% to average 8.25 GW through August.

Furthermore, renewable output, including wind and solar, averaged 17.42 GW in August, down almost 10% on the month. On the year, solar generation was steady at 8.2 GW, as solar output waned late in the month after the initial heatwave.

Meanwhile wind output was up 15% on the year at 9.22 GW as a result of an influx of stormy weather in late August. Wind generation peaked at over 40 GW on Aug. 26 after limited output earlier in the month.

On the year, coal generation continued to decline and was down 12% as hard coal output fell over 30% to 2.55 GW. As of Sept. 1, EEX data shows that over 11 GW of hard coal generation capacity remains offline.

Lignite, the most cost competitive fuel type after gas, output was steady, however, down just 4% at 10 GW. EEX data shows just 3 GW of lignite generation capacity is currently offline.

Meanwhile gas generation continued to trend higher on the year and was up almost 50% from August 2019 despite the month-on-month fall.

With gas and renewable output falling, nuclear generation was up over 30% from July, averaging 7.5 GW. Hydro output was down just over 10% on the month and almost 20% on the year, averaging just 2 GW after limited rainfall saw Rhine river levels on the Swiss-German border fall to the lowest levels in over two months. Biomass generation was steady both year-on-year and month-on-month at over 4.5 GW.