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03/25/2011 02:02 PM     print story email story  

Germany Sets Renewable Energy Record in 2010

SustainableBusiness.com News

In 2010, Germany set a world record, installing 7400 megawatts (MW) - a quarter million solar systems.  Germany now gets about 17% of its electricity from renewable energy, exceeding natural gas and closing in on nuclear and coal.

In the immediate aftermath of the Japanese nuclear accident, Prime Minister Merkel permanently closed two nuclear reactors and called on her government to revisit its controversial decision to extend the life of its aging reactors (40 years old - the same age as those in the US).

Germany's feed-in tariffs have enabled the country to exceed its target of 12.5% renewable energy generation by 2010. It's next target is 39% renewables by 2020. 

Wind turbines and biomass plants delivered more than 70% of renewable generation. Biogas plants powered with methane from manure alone generated nearly 13 TWh.

In solar, nearly 700 MW from some 100,000 systems were installed by homeowners and an astounding 3,700 MW from more than 135,000 systems were installed by farmers and small businesses, says Paul Gipe. Large, multi-megawatt systems comprised 1,400 MW of capacity or nearly 20% of total capacity installed in 2010.

"With the Japanese nuclear calamity fresh in everyone's mind and upcoming elections staring the government in the face, the success of Germany's rapid development of renewable energy may give Chancellor Merkel's conservative government the flexibility it needs to weather the nuclear crisis. It would not be surprising to find the government proposing an even more aggressive pace of renewable energy development than that seen in 2010," says Gipe.



Reader Comments (2)

Author:
Natalia Roschina Billie Jean

Date Posted:
03/25/11 02:15 AM

Greetings from Japan. Is the line " It's next target is 39% renewables by 2010" correct? (it's 2011 now). Thanks.

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Author:
TM

Date Posted:
03/31/11 11:10 PM

No, it is 39% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. However, there are already plans on the table to expedite this and some experts argue 100% renewable electricity could be reached by 2050. Concerning nuclear, 7 reactors have been turned off (temporarily) last week by chancellor Merkel in an act by many considered illegal (as without legislature approval). However it seems unlikely they will go on line again as the (conservative) government has announced its rules for the coming severe safety checks today. There is also talk about an expedited phasing out of the rest by approx. 2020. For the moment it almost seems to come down to a fight between people's will (of which the overhelming majority has been against nuclear since Chernobyl. Background: Despite of being 3000km away, Germany was contaminated heavily, southern Germany about as much as Fukushima's 20 to 30km zone according to a report I've recently seen on TV and still is in parts due to Cesium 137) against the big 4 energy suppliers being owners of the nuclear facilities. However, to further achieve or exceed the Kyoto protocol CO2 emission goals (Germany subscribed to a reduction of 21% by 2012, which it reached in 2008) without nuclear power Germany will have to bet heavily on renewables - and the consumers will have to pay for it, amount unknown, some say as much as rebuilding East Germany in the 90's. Short and medium term power prices are expected to rise. However from what I can see this society is willing to take the challenge and go the renewable way, despite the fact that its biggest neighbors are not.

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