Renewable energy in Germany
Germany's renewable energy sector is among the most innovative and successful worldwide. The share of electricity produced from renewable energy in Germany has increased from 6.3 percent of the national total in 2000 to about 25 percent in the first half of 2012. In 2011 20.5% (123.5 TWh) of Germany's electricity supply (603 TWh) was produced from renewable energy sources, more than the 2010 contribution of gas-fired power plants. In 2010, investments totaling 26 billion euros were made in Germany’s renewable energies sector. Germany has been called "the world's first major renewable energy economy".
Siemens chief executive, Peter Löscher believes that Germany’s target of generating 35 per cent of its electricity from renewables by 2020 is achievable – and, most probably, profitable for Europe’s largest engineering company. Nordex, Repower, Fuhrländer and Enercon are wind power companies based in Germany. More than 21,607 wind turbines are located in the German federal area and the country has plans to build more wind turbines. As of 2011, Germany's federal government is working on a new plan for increasing renewable energy commercialization, with a particular focus on offshore wind farms. A major challenge is the development of sufficient network capacities for transmitting the power generated in the North Sea to the large industrial consumers in southern Germany.
According to official figures, some 370,000 people in Germany were employed in the renewable energy sector in 2010, especially in small and medium sized companies. This is an increase of around 8 percent compared to 2009 (around 339,500 jobs), and well over twice the number of jobs in 2004 (160,500). About two-thirds of these jobs are attributed to the Renewable Energy Sources Act
Energiewende (German for "Energy transition") designates a significant change in energy policy from 2011. The term encompasses a reorientation of policy from demand to supply and a shift from centralized to distributed generation (for example, producing heat and power in very small cogeneration units), which should replace overproduction and avoidable energy consumption with energy-saving measures and increased efficiency.
Since the passage of the Directive on Electricity Production from Renewable Energy Sources in 1997, Germany and the other states of the European Union have been working towards a target of 12% renewable electricity by 2010. Germany passed this target early in 2007 when the renewable energy share in electricity consumption in Germany reached 14%. In September 2010 the German government announced the following new ambitious energy targets:
- Renewable electricity - 35% by 2020, 50% by 2030, 65% by 2040, and 80% by 2050
- Renewable energy - 18% by 2020, 30% by 2030, and 60% by 2050
- Energy efficiency - Cutting the total energy consumption by 20% from 2008 by 2020 and 50% less by 2050
- Total electricity consumption - 10% below 2008 level by 2020 and 25% less by 2050
The German Government reports that in 2011 renewable energy (mainly wind turbines and biomass plants) generated more than 123 TWh (billion kilowatt-hours) of electricity, providing nearly 20% of the 603 TWh of electricity supplied.
In 2012, all renewable energy accounted for 21.9% of electricity, with wind turbines and photovoltaic providing 11.9% of the total.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, along with a vast majority of her compatriots, believes that, "As the first big industrialized nation, we can achieve such a transformation toward efficient and renewable energies, with all the opportunities that brings for exports, developing new technologies and jobs".
- See main article: Wind power in Germany
Wind power in Germany describes wind power in Germany as part of energy in Germany and renewable energy in Germany. In 2011, the installed capacity of wind power in Germany was 29,075 megawatts (MW), with wind power producing about 8 percent of Germany’s total electrical power. According to EWEA in a normal wind year, installed wind capacity in Germany will meet 10.6% at end 2011 and 9.3% at end 2010 of the German electricity needs.
More than 21,607 wind turbines are located in the German federal area and the country has plans to build more wind turbines. As of 2011, Germany's federal government is working on a new plan for increasing renewable energy commercialization, with a particular focus on offshore wind farms. A major challenge is the development of sufficient network capacities for transmitting the power generated in the North Sea to the large industrial consumers in southern Germany.
|EU and German Wind Energy Capacity (MW)|
Photovoltaic solar power
In July 2012, there was a cumulative installed total solar PV power of 29.7 GW. Solar PV provided 18 TW·h (billion kilowatt-hours) in 2011, 3% of the total electricity demand. As solar power installations rise quickly, in first half of 2012, about 5.3% of the total electricity demand was covered by solar power. At 25 May 2012, a Saturday, solar power reached a new record with feeding 22 GW, as much as 20 nuclear power stations, into the German power grid, which made 50% of the nation's midday's electricity demand. The jump above the 20 GW level was due to increased capacity and bright sunshine nationwide.
Germany was also the biggest expanding market for solar PV 2012, with 7.6 GW of newly connected systems. 
- See main article: Geothermal power in Germany
Geothermal power in Germany is expected to grow, mainly because of a law that benefits the production of geothermal electricity and guarantees a feed-in tariff. But after a renewable energy law that introduced a tariff scheme of EU €0.15 [US $0.23] per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for electricity produced from geothermal sources came into effect that year, a construction boom was sparked and the new power plants are now starting to come online.
The total installed capacity in Germany at the end of 2006 was 4.7 GW. Hydropower meets 3.5% of the electricity demand. Latest estimates show that in Germany in 2007 approx. 9,400 people were employed in the hydropower sector which generated a total turnover of €1.23 billion.
Biofuel and biomass is one of Germany's most important sources of renewable energy. In 2010, biomass accounted for 30% of renewable electricity generation and for 70% of all renewable energy (mostly wood).
Germany's renewable energy sector is among the most innovative and successful worldwide. Nordex, Repower, Fuhrländer and Enercon are wind power companies based in Germany. SolarWorld, Q-Cells and Conergy are solar power companies based in Germany. These companies dominate the world market. Every third solar panel and every second wind rotor is made in Germany, and German turbines and generators used in hydro energy generation are among the most popular worldwide.
Nearly 800,000 people work in the German environment technology sector; an estimated 214,000 people work with renewables in Germany, up from 157,000 in 2004, an increase of 36 percent.
Siemens chief executive, Peter Löscher believes that Germany’s target of generating 35 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2020 is achievable – and, most probably, profitable for Europe’s largest engineering company. Its “environmental solutions” portfolio, which is firmly focused on renewables, is “already generating more than €27 billion a year, 35 per cent of Siemens’ total revenue, and the plan is to grow this to €40 billion by 2015”. Ending its involvement in nuclear industry will boost the credibility of Siemens as a purveyor of “green technology”.
Germany's main competitors in solar electricity are Japan, the US and China. In the wind industry it is Denmark, Spain and the US.
The renewable energy sector benefited when the Alliance '90/The Greens party joined the Federal Government between 1998 and 2005. The renewable energy sector was aided especially by the Renewable Energy Sources Act that promotes renewable energy mainly by stipulating feed-in tariffs that grid operators must pay for renewable energy fed into the power grid. People who produce renewable energy can sell their 'product' at fixed prices for a period of 20 or 15 years. This has created a surge in the production of renewable energy. In 2012, Siemens estimated the total cost of renewable energy would come to at least €1.4 trillion (US$1.8 trillion) by 2030.
For the 2005–2010 period the Federal Government set aside nearly 800 million euros for scientific research in the country. That research will be earmarked for policies of long-term development. Additionally, in 2001 a law was passed requiring the closing of all nuclear power plants within a period of 32 years. The shutdown time was extended to 2040 by a new government in 2010. After the Fukushima incident, the law was abrogated and the end of nuclear energy was set to 2022.
The German energy policy is framed within the European Union, and the March 2007 European Council in Brussels approved a mandatory energy plan that requires a 20% reduction of carbon dioxide emissions before the year 2020 and the consumption of renewable energies to be 20% of total EU consumption (compared to 7% in 2006). The accord indirectly acknowledged the role of nuclear energy — which is not commonly regarded as renewable, but emissions-free — in the reduction of the emission of greenhouse gasses, allowing each member state to decide whether or not to use nuclear generated electricity.
Energiewende (German for "Energy transition") designates a significant change in energy policy: The term encompasses a reorientation of policy from demand to supply and a shift from centralized to distributed generation (for example, producing heat and power in very small cogeneration units), which should replace overproduction and avoidable energy consumption with energy-saving measures and increased efficiency.
The key policy document outlining the Energiewende was published by the German government in September 2010, some six months before the Fukushima nuclear accident. Legislative support was passed in 2011. Important aspects include:
- greenhouse gas reductions: 80–95% reduction by 2050
- renewable energy targets: 60% share by 2050 (renewables broadly defined as hydro, solar and wind power)
- energy efficiency: electricity efficiency up by 50% by 2050
- an associated research and development drive
The policy has been embraced by the German federal government and has resulted in a huge expansion of renewables, particularly wind power. Germany's share of renewables has increased from around 5% in 1999 to 22.9% in 2012, reaching close to the OECD average of 18% usage of renewables. Producers have been guaranteed a fixed feed-in tariff for 20 years, guaranteeing a fixed income. Energy co-operatives have been created, and efforts were made to decentralize control and profits. The large energy companies have a disproportionately small share of the renewables market. Nuclear power plants were closed, and the existing 9 plants will close earlier than planned for, in 2022.
In May 2013, the International Energy Agency commended Germany for its commitment to developing a comprehensive energy transition strategy, ambitious renewable energy goals and plans to increase efficient energy use and supported this approach. Nevertheless, the scale of Germany’s energy policy ambitions, coupled with the large size and energy intensity of its economy, and its central location in Europe’s energy system, mean that further policy measures need to be developed if the country’s ambitious energy transition, or Energiewende, is to maintain a workable balance between sustainability, affordability and competitiveness.
Susbsidies aimed at stimulating the growth of renewables have driven up concumer energy prices by 12.5% in the year to 2013. To date, German consumers have absorbed the costs of the Energiewende, but the IEA says that the debate over the social and economic impacts of the new approach has become more prominent as the share of renewable energy has continued to grow alongside rising electricity prices. The transition to a low-carbon energy sector requires public acceptance, and, therefore, retail electricity prices must remain at an affordable level. Presently, German electricity prices are among the highest in Europe, despite relatively low wholesale prices. At the same time, the IEA said that the new energy policy is based on long-term investment decisions, and a strong policy consensus in Germany in favour of large-scale renewable energy commercialisation exists.
Increases in installed renewable electric power capacity and generation in recent years is shown in the table below:
|Share of gross
- Energy in Germany
- Energy policy of the European Union
- Renewable energy in the European Union
- Renewable energy commercialization
- List of countries by renewable electricity production
- Germany National Renewable Energy Action Plan
- Berlin Declaration (2007)
- German Solar Industry Association
- Amory Lovins
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Renewable energy in Germany.|
- 2011 Renewable Energy Sources in Figures from the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety - Renewable Energy
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- Climate, Energy, and Environment Overview from the German Department of State
- Official site about renewable Energy in the Emscher-Lippe-Region