What Happened To Energiewende?

By Roy L Hales

screen-shot-2014-03-18-at-3-43-47-pm1Germany led the world for the number of solar installations during 2012. This relatively small European nation added 7.60 GW of capacity to the grid. Then their numbers started going downward: 3.30 GW of new solar capacity in 2013; 1.56 GW in 2014; 1.4 GW in 2015. As of October 31, only 0.79 GW of new capacity has been added this year. Germany’s critics are once again hailing the imminent demise of this nation’s renewable revolution.  What happened to Energiewende?

What Happened To Energiewende?

Annual increase and decrease of net installed electricity generation capacity in Germany - Courtesy Fraunhofer ISE
Annual increase and decrease of net installed electricity generation capacity in Germany – Courtesy Fraunhofer ISE

“For large-scale PV systems, Germany has switched from a government-set feed-in tariff to a market-driven auction system. The intention is to ensure grid expansion can keep pace with the deployment of new renewables and guarantee grid stability, to move towards a more market-oriented model, and to increase competition. This is because renewables have matured and are now able to compete on the market. Of course, under the auction system, the speed of deployment can be controlled by the government. The new deployment corridor for photovoltaics installations plans an additional capacity of around 2.5 GW per year,” said Daniel Stephens, of Germany Trade And Invest.

The Lenz Blog quotes Hans-Joseph Fell, president of the Energy Watch Group, as saying, “The auction volume from April 2015 to August 2016 was only an anemic 740 MW. And only 121 MW of that has been actually built until September 16 of this year. … And with only one third of those ceilings actually built, the result is a complete disaster. I recall that Germany used to build 7 GW of solar a year under a market-based feed-in tariff. Now we get close to nothing. This doesn’t make any sense. Cost of new solar has gone down. Why stop now? …”

Germany’s Renewable Sector Is Growing

Quelle: Daten: Arbeitsgruppe Erneuerbare Energien-Statistik, Grafik: BMWi
Quelle: Daten: Arbeitsgruppe Erneuerbare Energien-Statistik, Grafik: BMWi

Though some critics are once again hailing the imminent demise of energiewende, statistics from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy show Germany’s renewable sector continues to grow.

Germany obtained 25.2%  of its’ electricity from renewables in 2013 and, as of last year, has increased that number to 31.6%.

According to the Ministry website, “The expansion of renewable energy in Germany is successful – renewables now already account for 32 per cent, and the policies now being put in place mean that their share is to rise to 45 per cent by 2025.”

Expansion In The Wind Sector

Net installed electricity generation capacity in Germany - courtesy Fraunhofer ISE
Net installed electricity generation capacity in Germany – courtesy Fraunhofer ISE

As is readily apparent from the chart to the right, most of this expansion has occurred in the wind sector.

Since 2014, between 3 and 4 GW of onshore wind capacity has been installed every year. As of October 31, there has been 3.01 GW added for 2016.

The offshore wind market has virtually come into existence since 2012. A mere 12 MW was installed that year. A record breaking 2.43 GW was installed in 2015.

Germany’s Renewable Targets Remains Unchanged

Turbine blades awaiting shipment from Sassnitz Harbour on Rügen Island, Germany - Roy L Hales photo.
Turbine blades awaiting shipment from Sassnitz Harbour on Rügen Island, Germany – Roy L Hales photo.

“Germany’s target of having at least 35% renewables in the electricity mix by 2020, and 80% by 2050, remains unchanged,” said Stephens.

The federal cabinet recently adopted a Climate Action Plan that sets targets for every sector, so that Germany can obtain greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050.

“With renewable electricity generation, other sectors such as transport will be in a position to phase out climate-damaging fossil fuels. The plan envisages the further expansion of renewable energy sources and a corresponding decline in the use of electricity generation from coal,” explained Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks in a press release.

This plan calls for decreases of :

  • 66-67% emissions from buildings, ” … through ambitious standards for new buildings, long-term renovation strategies and the gradual phase-out of heating systems based on fossil fuels.”
  • 40-42%  in transportation emissions,  by using ” … alternative drive technologies, public transport, rail transport, cycling, walking and a digitalisation strategy …”
  • 49 to 51% of “climate-damaging emissions from industrial processes”
  • 31 to 34%,  compared to 1990 levels, “nitrous oxide emissions from over-fertilisation”

There is no reason to question the fate of Energiewende. It appears to be succeeding.

Top Photo Credit: Eine E126 Windkraftanlage wird im Windpark Werder/Kessin/ Altentreptow in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern aufgestellt. Pressefoto WIND-projekt GmbH

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