OREANDA-NEWS. German wind power generation is to exceed nuclear power output this year for the first time, domestic research institute IWR said.

IWR expects output from German offshore wind plants to exceed 10TWh this year, which would be a new record high and an increase from 8.7TWh last year. And the institute expects total German wind power production — including from onshore installations — to rise to 100TWh this year from 88TWh in 2015.

Offshore wind power capacity connected to the German grid almost tripled to around 3.3GW at the end of last year from around 1.2GW at the start of the year. Onshore wind power capacity rose by 3.5GW in 2015 from a year earlier, to 41.7GW. Last year's capacity additions will take full effect this year.

Germany's offshore wind power capacity registered for the country's renewable direct selling scheme rose to around 3.8GW this month and total installed capacity is expected to edge up to around 4GW by the end of this year.

Predictions for new additions to onshore wind capacity are less certain. But expansion this year could remain close to the 3.5GW added last year, and a record high of 4.4GW in 2014 ahead of reforms to Germany's renewable energy act (EEG). The EEG reforms are aimed at introducing auctions to set subsidies for new onshore wind and photovoltaic (PV) installations with a capacity of more than 1MW from next year. But onshore wind plants receiving approval for construction by the end of this year and coming on line by the end of 2018 will be exempt from the auctions and can receive subsidies under the current system.

Nuclear power capacity fell last year to 10.8GW, following the permanent shutdown of German utility Uniper's 1.3GW Grafenrheinfeld reactor at the end of June.

Extended maintenance, or possible unplanned outages, at several nuclear plants is expected to add to falling nuclear output this year, IWR said. This includes a halt at Uniper's 1.4GW Grohne plant, which has been extended several times and is now expected to end on 5 June. The reactor has been off line since 1 April to repair damage at a residual cooling pump.

IWR expects German nuclear power production to fall significantly below 90TWh on a gross basis this year, which would be the lowest since the start of the 1980s.

Nuclear power production amounted to around 91.8TWh on a gross basis last year and to around 87.1TWh on a net basis. Net nuclear power production amounted to 132.97TWh in 2010, before the government at the time decided in 2011 to phase out nuclear power, forcing eight reactors with a combined capacity of 8.4GW off line that year.

German wind power plants produced 38.39TWh from 1 January to the middle of May, according to preliminary figures from German research institute Fraunhofer ISE. Nuclear power production amounted to 30.56TWh over the same period.