Renewables in Germany

Germany may be the developed country doing the most to expand the share of renewable energy it uses for electricity generation. Partly as a consequence of feed-in tariffs (where power distributors are obliged to buy energy from renewable facilities at set prices), renewables now represent about 15% of Germany’s electricity supply, much of that from wind. Since 2008, the quantity of solar energy employed in Germany has doubled.

Unfortunately, budgetary concerns may lead to the scaling back of the initiative. While it is fair enough to say that there are cheaper ways to fight greenhouse gas emissions than putting solar cells in Germany, it is also meaningful to highlight that the whole world will eventually need to transition to the use of renewable forms of energy. By helping to determine the political and technical measures necessary to do that, pioneers like Germany are doing a favour for those who will follow after.

For instance, feed-in tariffs are an important part of Ontario’s Green Energy Act.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

2 thoughts on “Renewables in Germany”

  1. Germany’s Experience
    How Effective Are Renewables, Really?

    By Jens Lubbadeh and Anselm Waldermann

    The last 10 years have seen massive amounts of taxpayer money invested in renewable energies in Germany. Growth in the industry has been rapid. But has the development been universally good? SPIEGEL ONLINE takes a look at those renewables with promise — and those which might flop.

    It was all very small when it began. A couple liters of biodiesel here, a small wind turbine there. Maybe a few solar panels with an output just enough to run a pocket calculator.

    But then April 1, 2000 came along. Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s government had been in office a mere year and a half. But on that day, a law came into power that was to completely alter the German energy market. The rather unwieldy name: Law for the Promotion of Renewable Energies — EEG for short. Later, the law regulating biofuel quotas was added, as was another measure governing the use of geothermal power. The aim was clear. The fuel, electricity and heating markets were to be revolutionized.

  2. In October the government was forced to concede that Germany will probably break its commitment to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions (to 40% below the 1990 level by 2020) by a wide margin: without drastic adjustments, emissions are predicted to fall by only 32%.

    The main reason for the shortfall, which is larger than expected, is the country’s continued reliance on coal, particularly filthy brown coal (lignite), to generate power. The problem was exacerbated by the panicked decision to switch off nuclear power stations (which emit very little CO-2) after the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011. The government’s projections also failed to allow for a stronger economy and lower oil prices, which encouraged the use of oil for heating homes and delighted car-loving Germans with cheap petrol and diesel. The Energiewende (energy transition) policy focused on subsidising renewables without paying enough attention to phasing out fossil fuels. “Our assumptions were too optimistic,” says Jochen Flasbarth, one of Germany’s COP negotiators.

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