Renewable energy in Germany

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Germany renewable electricity generation percentageBiogas fermenter (Schleswig-Holstein)Wind power in Germany
Geothermal power plantLevelized cost of electricity in 2013Renewable energy sources
Renewable Energy in Germany (from top left to bottom right):
 · Renewables in the German electricity sector
 · Biogas fermenter in Hornstet
 · Wind park in Bernburg
 · Geothermal power plant in Neustadt-Glewe
 · German Levelized cost of electricity in 2013
 · German wind and solar in Rhineland-Palatinate

Germany's renewable energy sector is among the most innovative and successful worldwide. Net-generation from renewable energy sources in the German electricity sector has increased from 6.3% in 2000 to about 30% in 2014.[1][2] For the first time ever, wind, biogas, and solar combined accounted for a larger portion of net electricity production than brown coal.[3] While peak-generation from combined wind and solar reached a new all-time high of 74% in April 2014,[4] wind power saw its best day ever on December 12, 2014, generating 562 GWh.[5] Germany has been called "the world's first major renewable energy economy".[6][7]

More than 23,000 wind turbines and 1.4 million solar PV systems are distributed all over the country's area of 357,000 square kilometers.[8][9] As of 2011, Germany's federal government is working on a new plan for increasing renewable energy commercialization,[10] with a particular focus on offshore wind farms.[11] 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 parts of the country.[12]

According to official figures, some 370,000 people were employed in the renewable energy sector in 2010, especially in small and medium-sized companies. This is an increase of around 8% 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[13][14]

Germany's Energiewende, or 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.


Electricity by source in 2014
Nuclear Brown Coal Hard Coal Natural Gas Wind Solar Biogas HydroCircle frame.svg
  •   Nuclear: 91.8 TWh (17.2%)
  •   Brown Coal: 140.7 TWh (26.4%)
  •   Hard Coal: 110.1 TWh (20.7%)
  •   Natural Gas: 33.9 TWh (6.4%)
  •   Wind: 51.4 TWh (9.7%)
  •   Solar: 32.8 TWh (6.2%)
  •   Biomass: 53 TWh (10.0%)
  •   Hydro: 18.5 TWh (3.5%)
Net generated electricity in 2014[15]

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%.[16] In September 2010, the German government announced the following new ambitious energy targets:[17] After the 2013 elections, the new CDU/CSU and SPD coalition government continued the energy transition, with only minor modifications of its targets in the coalition agreement.[18]

  • Renewable national electricity—40 to 45% by 2025, 55 to 60% by 2035, and 80% by 2050[19]
  • Renewable national energy—18% by 2020, 30% by 2030, and 60% by 2050
  • Energy efficiency:
    • Energy consumption—reduction of 20% from 2008 level by 2020, and 50% less by 2050
    • Electricity consumption—reduction of 10% from 2008 level by 2020, and 25% less by 2050

The German Government reported, in 2011, renewable energy (mainly wind turbines and biomass plants) generated more than 123 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity, providing nearly 20% of the 603 TWh of electricity supplied.[20]

In 2012, all renewable energy accounted for 21.9% of electricity, with wind turbines and photovoltaic providing 11.9% of the total.[21]

Chancellor Angela Merkel, along with a vast majority of her compatriots, believes, "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".[22]

As of 2014, renewable sources account for 30.8% of the net electricity production (first half-year). Compared to the same period of 2013, energy production from wind, solar and biomass increased by 9.9 TWh, while it decreased from fossil fuels by 14.8 TWh, and remained almost unchanged for nuclear and hydro power.[1]

Source: Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, 1990–2013, as per September 2014[23]:5


Wind power[edit]

Main article: Wind power in Germany
Wind power: installed capacity in MW (1990–2014)[24]

In 2013, wind power generated a total of 53.4 TWh of electricity and more than 3.2 GW of new capacity was added to the grid.[25] In 2011, the country's installed capacity of wind power reached 29,075 megawatts (MW), about 8% of the overall capacity.[26] 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.[27][28]

More than 21,607 wind turbines are located in the German federal area and the country has plans to build more.[29][30] As of 2011, Germany's federal government is working on a new plan for increasing renewable energy commercialization,[10] with a particular focus on offshore wind farms.[11] 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.[12]


Biomass used for the production of biogas and biofuels are some 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).[31]

Germany has committed to blending 6.25% biofuels in petroleum by 2014 with the Biofuels Quota Act.[32][33]

Photovoltaic solar power[edit]

Solar power: installed capacity in MW (2000–2014)[34]

Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology generates electricity from sunlight, and it can be used in grid-connected and off-grid applications. They've first become mass produced in the year 2000, when German environmentalists and Eurosolar have succeeded in obtaining the government support for the 100,000 roofs program.[35] In July 2012, a cumulative installed total solar PV power of 29.7 GW was in place.[36] Solar PV provided 18 TW·h 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.[37] On Saturday May 25, 2012, solar power broke a new record high, feeding 22 GW into the power grid, or as much as 20 nuclear power stations. This jump above the 20 GW level was due to increased capacity and excellent weather conditions countrywide, and made up for half of the nation's electricity demand at midday.[38] Germany was also the biggest expanding market for solar PV 2012, with 7.6 GW of newly connected systems.[39] Some market analysts expect the solar electricity share could reach 25% by 2050.[40] Price of PV systems has decreased more than 50% in 5 years since 2006.[41]


The total installed hydroelectic capacity in Germany at the end of 2006 was 4.7 GW. Hydropower meets 3.5% of the electricity demand. Latest estimates show, in Germany in 2007, about 9,400 people were employed in the hydropower sector which generated a total turnover of €1.23 billion.[42]

Geothermal power[edit]

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 €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 yearly yield of renewable electricity in Germany by source.

Germany's renewable energy sector is among the most innovative and successful worldwide. Nordex, REpower Systems, 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.[43]

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%.[43]

Siemens chief executive Peter Löscher believes Germany’s target of generating 35% 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”.[44]

Germany's main competitors in solar electricity are Japan, the US, and China. In the wind industry, it is Denmark, Spain, and the US.

Government policy[edit]

The renewable energy sector benefited when the Alliance '90/The Greens party joined the federal government between 1998 and 2005. Support for renewable energy continued under all following governments, regardless of composition, including the current CDU/CSU and SPD coalition government starting in 2013.[18] The renewable energy sector was aided especially by the Renewable Energy Sources Act that promotes renewable energy mainly by stipulating feed-in tariffs and recently also market premiums 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.[45] In 2012, Siemens estimated the total cost of renewable energy would come to at least €1.4 trillion (US$1.8 trillion) by 2030.[46]

For the 2011–2014 period, the federal government set aside 3.5 billion euros for scientific research in the country.[47] 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.[48] After the 2013 federal elections, the new CDU/CSU and SPD coalition in important areas continued the Energiewende of the previous government, but also agreed on a major revision of the EEG.[19]

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).[49] 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 gases, allowing each member state to decide whether or not to use nuclear-generated electricity.[50]

Also, a compromise was reached to achieve a minimum quota of 10% biofuels in the total consumption of gasoline and diesel in transport in 2020.

Energy transition[edit]

Energiewende ("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.[51] 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.[52] 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 nine plants will close earlier than planned, 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 further policy measures must be developed if the country’s ambitious energy transition is to maintain a workable balance between sustainability, affordability, and competitiveness.[53]

Subsidies aimed at stimulating the growth of renewables have driven up consumer energy prices by 12.5% in 2013.[54] To date, German consumers have absorbed the costs of the Energiewende, but the IEA says 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.[53] At the same time, the IEA said 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.[53]


In Germany, almost half of renewable power capacity was citizen-owned as of 2013, and about 20 million Germans lived in so-called 100% renewable energy regions.[55]


Estimated German jobs in renewable energy in 2012-2013 were about 370,000.[56]


Increases in installed renewable electric power capacity and generation in recent years is shown in the table below:[23]:6, 7

Electric Gross generation of Renewables by Source since 1990
Year Installed
Wind energy
Biogenic share
of waste
Total electricity
Share of gross
onshore offshore
1990 4,069 15,580 71 221 1,213 0.6 17,086 3.1
1991 4,097 15,402 100 260 1,211 1.6 16,974 3.1
1992 4,331 18,091 275 296 1,262 3.2 19,927 3.7
1993 4,483 18,526 600 433 1,203 5.8 20,768 3.9
1994 4,864 19,501 909 569 1,306 8.0 22,293 4.2
1995 5,464 20,747 1,500 665 1,348 11 24,271 4.5
1996 5,874 18,340 2,032 759 1,343 16 22,490 4.1
1997 6,477 18,453 2,966 880 1,397 26 23,722 4.3
1998 7,473 18,452 4,489 1,642 1,618 32 26,233 4.7
1999 9,012 20,686 5,528 1,849 1,740 42 29,845 5.4
2000 10,875 24,867 9,513 2,893 1,844 64 39,181 6.8
2001 13,756 23,241 10,509 3,348 1,859 76 39,033 6.7
2002 17,487 23,662 15,786 4,089 1,949 162 45,648 7.8
2003 20,857 17,722 18,713 6,086 2,161 313 44,995 7.5
2004 24,074 19,910 25,509 7,960 2,117 556 0.2 56,052 9.2
2005 28,122 19,576 27,229 10,978 3,047 1,282 0.2 62,112 10.1
2006 31,883 20,042 30,710 14,841 3,844 2,220 0.4 71,657 11.6
2007 35,479 21,169 39,713 19,760 4,521 3,075 0.4 88,238 14.3
2008 39,597 20,446 40,574 22,872 4,659 4,420 18 92,989 15.1
2009 46,584 19,036 38,602 38 25,989 4,352 6,583 19 94,618 16.4
2010 55,742 20,956 37,619 174 29,085 4,781 11,683 28 104,372 17.1
2011 65,843 17,674 48,315 568 31,920 5,000 19,340 19 123,519 20.5
2012 76,017 21,200 45,325 675 35,950 4,900 28,000 25 143,463 22.9
2013 84,793 20,800 50,803 905 31,000 80 150,878
2014 to be announced in September 2015[57]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Electricity production from solar and wind in Germany in 2014" (pdf). Fraunhofer Institute, Germany. 2014-04-21. p. 5. Archived from the original on 2014-07-22. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Winter, Caroline: "Germany Reaches New Levels of Greendom, Gets 31 Percent of Its Electricity From Renewables", in Business Week, 14 August 2014
  3. ^ "Bye-bye brown coal: Germany's new renewables mark - Business Spectator, July 10, 2014". 
  4. ^, Sets New Record, Generating 74 Percent Of Power Needs From Renewable Energy, 13 May 2014
  5. ^, Craig Morris, New wind power generation record in Germany, 16 December 2014
  6. ^ Germany: The World's First Major Renewable Energy Economy
  7. ^ Fraunhofer ISE, Electricity production from solar and wind in Germany – New record in wind power production, p.2, 15 December 2014
  8. ^, Number of Wind Turbines in Germany, 2012
  9. ^ Fraunhofer ISE Recent Facts about Photovoltaics in Germany, p.5, 16 October 2014
  10. ^ a b "100% renewable electricity supply by 2050". Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. 26 January 2011. Retrieved 4 June 2011. 
  11. ^ a b Schultz, Stefan (23 March 2011). "Will Nuke Phase-Out Make Offshore Farms Attractive?". Spiegel Online. Retrieved 26 March 2011. 
  12. ^ a b The Wall Street Journal Online, 24 April 2012
  13. ^ Renewable Energy Sources in Figures - National and International Development
  14. ^ Germany Leads Way on Renewables, Sets 45% Target by 2030
  15. ^ "Electricity production from solar and wind in Germany in 2014 (German version)" (pdf). Fraunhofer Institute, Germany. 5 January 2015. pp. 2,3. Retrieved 5 January 2015. 
  16. ^ Share in electricity supply has gone up to 14 per cent
  17. ^ The Federal Government's energy concept of 2010 and the transformation of the energy system of 2011 p. 5
  18. ^ a b German Energy Blog Overview CDU/CSU and SPD Present Coalition Agreement – 55% to 60% Renewables by 2035 and More
  19. ^ a b German Energy Blog Overview Renewable Energy Sources Act
  20. ^ "Development of Renewable Energy Sources in 2011". December 2012. 
  21. ^ "Bruttostromerzeugung in Deutschland von 1990 bis 2012 nach Energieträgern" (PDF). AG Energiebilanzen e.V. February 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  22. ^ Alexander Ochs (2012-03-16). "The End of the Atomic Dream: One Year After Fukushima, the Shortfalls of Nuclear Energy Are Clearer Than Ever". Worldwatch. 
  23. ^ a b "BMWi - Erneuerbare Energien - Zeitreihen Erneuerbare Energien". Erneuerbare Energien. September 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  24. ^ "GWEC Global Wind Statistics 2014" (PDF). GWEC. 10 February 2015. p. 3. 
  25. ^ Renewables 2014 Global Status Report, page 57
  26. ^ Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie (February 2012). "Die Energiewende in Deutschland". Berlin. p. 4. 
  27. ^ Wind in power 2011 European statistics EWEA February 2012, pages 4 and 11
  28. ^ Wind in power 2010 European statistics EWEA February 2011, page 11
  29. ^ "Wind energy in Germany". 
  30. ^ "72,6 Gigawatts Worldwide" (PDF). Wind Energy Barometer. February 2007. Retrieved 4 July 2007. 
  31. ^ General Information - Biomass
  32. ^ Bundesministeriums der Justiz in Zusammenarbeites mit der juris. August 9, 2009. Verordnung über Anforderungen an eine nachhaltige Herstellung von Biokraftstoffen (Biokraftstoff-Nachhaltigkeitsverordnung - Biokraft-NachV).
  33. ^ BioenergyWiki: Policy implementation in Germany
  34. ^ "Photovoltaikanlagen: Datenmeldungen sowie EEG-Vergütungssätze" [Monthly reported new installations of PV systems and current feed-in tariffs] (in German). Bundesnetzagentur. Retrieved February 2015. 
  35. ^ Solar Power for the World: What You Wanted to Know about PhotovoltaicsTaylor & Francis Group
  36. ^ Entwicklung des deutschen PV-Marktes Jan-Jul 2012 (German)
  37. ^ Erneuerbare Energien liefern mehr als ein Viertel des Stroms
  38. ^ Germany sets new solar power record, institute says
  39. ^ "Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics 2013 - 2017". European Photovoltaic Industry Association. Retrieved 2014-03-19. 
  40. ^ Another Sunny Year for Solar Power
  41. ^ BSW-Solar, Statistische Zahlen der deutschen Solarstrombranche (Photovoltaik), Oct 2011
  42. ^ General information - Hydropower
  43. ^ a b Green energy boom in Germany
  44. ^ "Nuclear sunset?". The Irish Times. September 23, 2011. 
  45. ^ Renewable Energy Sources in Germany - key information 2009 at a glance
  46. ^ "Eye-watering cost of renewable revolution". World Nuclear News. 23 January 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  47. ^ German Energy Blog Federal Cabinet Adopts 3.5 Billion Energy Research Programme
  48. ^ German Energy Blog Clear Bundestag Majority for 2022 Nuclear Phase-Out and Coalition Party Approval for Energy Package
  49. ^ - Historical agreement on climate protection
  50. ^ - Historical agreement on climate protection
  51. ^ Bundesregierung Deutschland (28 September 2010). Energiekonzept für eine umweltschonende, zuverlässige und bezahlbare Energieversorgung [Energy Concept for an Environmentally-Friendly, Reliable, and Affordable Energy Supply]. Berlin, Deutschland: Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie (BMWi) und Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit (BMU) (Federal Ministry for Economy and Technology, and Federal Ministry for Environment, Conservation, and Reactor Safety). 
  52. ^ "Germany’s energy transformation Energiewende". The Economist. July 28, 2012. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  53. ^ a b c International Energy Agency (24 May 2013). "Germany’s Energiewende is to maintain a balance between sustainability, affordability and competitiveness". 
  54. ^
  55. ^ Renewables 2014 Global Status Report, page 27
  56. ^ Renewables 2014 Global Status Report, page 49
  57. ^

External links[edit]