Wind Power Generators: “Looking at these generators makes me wonder why people would rather have coal-fired power plants than wind power. They are located all around the place where I'm staying, at a typical distance of 2 km. and make little to no noise.” - photo by thskyt, CC by SA 2.0

Energiewende is Very Much Alive and On-Track in Germany

By Roy L Hales

Screen-shot-2014-03-18-at-3.43.47-PM1Renewable sources contributed 27% of Germany’s domestic electricity in the first quarter. In windy Schleswig-Holstein, which obtained 90% of its energy from renewable sources in 2013, they hope to reach 100% this year. The role played by fossil fuels and the nuclear sectors is shrinking. Contrary to what naysayers have been predicting, Energiewende is very much alive and on-track in Germany.

Schleswig-Holstein - by David Liuzzo, CC by SA 2.0, en Wikipedia
Schleswig-Holstein (dark green) – by David Liuzzo, CC by SA 2.0, en Wikipedia

The biggest “winners” were solar power, whose overall production was up 82.5%, and offshore wind, up 33%.

Natural gas production was down 19.7%, hard coal down 17.4%, and nuclear energy down 4.6%

The biggest story is from Schleswig-Holstein, where the addition of 1.1 GW of wind capacity has made it possible to achieve 100% renewable electricity. Robert Habek, the state’s Minister of Energy, said that will happen if this year’s wind yields are at least average.

“Over the next 10 years Schleswig-Holstein expects to increase the share of renewable energy sources in the gross electricity consumption to 300%, meeting 8% of the total German electricity needs,” wrote Matthias Laing in the German Energy Blog.

This is triple the installed wind capacity from 2012.

Schleswig-Holstein intends to double its solar capacity during the same period.

Robert Habeck, Landwirtschafts- und Umweltminister von Schleswig-Holstein - Photo by GrüneSH, CC by SA 3.0, en Wikipedia
Robert Habeck, Landwirtschafts- und Umweltminister von Schleswig-Holstein – Photo by GrüneSH, CC by SA 3.0, en Wikipedia

The first draft of bill amending Germany’s Renewable Energy Source’s Act has been introduced to the German Parliament. Schleswig-Holstein has asked that it be amended so that wind facilities installed in 2014 still receive subsidies. A “breathing cap” is to be introduced whereby financial support for wind power will be reduced quarterly as of 2016. The amount is to be adjusted up or down, according to need.

Germany is one of the few Western European nations whose fossil fuel reserves are not close to exhaustion. They may have enough coal to last another century.

Nevertheless the installation of 4,000 solar-plus-battery systems would seem to herald the beginning on a new era. Germany may meet its goal of deriving 100% of its energy from renewable sources, without a fossil fuel back-up, by 2050.

Photo at top of page: Wind Power Generators: “Looking at these generators makes me wonder why people would rather have coal-fired power plants than wind power. They are located all around the place where I’m staying, at a typical distance of 2 km. and make little to no noise.” – photo by thskyt, CC by SA 2.0

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