Germany’s Energy Transition – A Progress Report

Germany has taken bold steps in recent years in trying to rid itself of energy sourced from fossil and nuclear fuels and shift towards renewables such as wind and solar power. Its national energy policies and incentives programs have ushered in an unprecedented number of solar panels and wind turbines being installed throughout the entire country.

As impressive as Germany’s progress has been, its goal of a complete transition from squashed dinosaurs remains daunting and a considerable ways off, as highlighted in the A Snapshot of Germany’s Electricity Mix: Solar Capacity Reigns, but Coal Generation Sustains progress report.

On the positive side, the solar and wind capacities installed have been phenomenal.

 

German net installed capacity rating
German net installed capacity rating

 

On June 24, 2014, solar panels generated 212 gigawatt-hours or 18% of the country’s total electricity generated on that day.

German solar power generation in MW on June 6, 2104
German solar power generation in MW on June 6, 2104

 

 

And on Dec 12, 2014, wind turbines generated 562 gigawatt-hours or 1/3 of the country’s total electricity generated on that day.

German wind power generation in MW on Dec 12, 2014

 

Despite the gains by solar and wind power, coal (brown and hard coals) and nuclear still command a significantly large share of the country’s overall energy mix.

German electricity production by source in 2014
German electricity production by source in 2014

 

Another point made clear by the report is that energy transitions take decades to happen due to the perquisite changes in infrastructure and social-economic adjustments an economy needs to make.  The upfront resources required for the infrastructure are enormous and the planning and social debates would also need a long time for consensus to be formed. In a world of stunted economic growth and debt saturation, it makes all the more important to start the transition early and spread the costs over a longer time horizon in order to ease the transition pain.

 

 

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