Germany 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?
Germany added 2.3 GW of new onshore wind capacity in the first half of 2017. Though it failed to meet the target last year, the Renewable Energy Act set annual target of installing 2.5 GW new solar capacity. Add in a warm autumn and the winter storms Xavier and Herwart, and it is easy to see how renewables supplied 44.1 per cent of Germany’s energy in October.
I finally met Thomas Grigoleit last week. The Director of Energy and Environmental Technology for Germany’s economic development agency (Germany Trade and Invest) peddled up to the restaurant where we were waiting. He had left the office for the day and, folding his suit into a rucksack, set off on his bicycle to meet the North American journalists. This was probably going to be my best opportunity for questioning Thomas Grigoleit about Energiewende.
In the nine months to September 2014, the renewable sector had replaced lignite as the main source of the nation’s power. They supplied 27.7% of Germany’s electricity demand, as opposed to 26.3%. By the end of the year, the offshore wind sector broke through the 1 GW barrier. Another 1.3 GW was waiting to be connected, which makes it virtually certain there will be 3 GW by the end of this year. Is Hermann Albers, president of the German Wind Energy Association, right? Will 2015 be the year of the Energiewende?