• Germany edition
 
Opinion
'We’ll see energy revolution to the end'
Photo: DPA

'We’ll see energy revolution to the end'

Published: 10 Sep 2013 09:54 GMT+02:00
Updated: 10 Sep 2013 09:54 GMT+02:00

It aims to phase out nuclear power by the next decade while cutting green house gas emissions by 40 percent on 1990 levels. But it has led to spiralling fuel costs and exposed a lack of investment in power lines, while turning off nuclear power has ironically increased reliance on fossil fuels. The shift has cost Germany €20 billion this year.

Here Thomas Grigoleit director of renewable energies at the government-backed development agency, Germany Trade and Invest, argues that the Energiewende has already had several successes and will make Germany even stronger.

When Germany started with the pioneering programs promoting renewable energies in the early nineties, who would have thought that they would culminate with as radical a vision as the German Energiewende?

But with constantly-rising costs of fossil fuels and ever-falling prices for renewables over the past few years, and in the aftermath of Fukushima, no-one in Germany is questioning the fundamental logic of this ambitious goal anymore. Today the Energiewende can be regarded as a national movement, with more than 10,000 people investing in renewable energy systems each month and all bringing Germany closer to energy independence step by step.

In 2012, renewable energies – including wind, solar panels, bio-energies and hydropower – contributed 23 percent to Germany’s gross electricity consumption and produced 9.3 percent more energy than in 2011. This helped reduce CO2 emissions by 146 million tonnes and added more than €25 billion to the German economy, including €6 billion in savings on fossil fuel energy imports. More than 350,000 people are working in the sector in Germany today.

The Energiewende has already reached some important milestones, putting Germany well ahead of its economic rivals. Solar grid parity for instance - the point at which electricity from solar power is as cheap as conventional electric power - was reached as far back as 2011.

A whopping 47.7 percent more photovoltaic energy was produced in 2012 than in 2011 which contributed about 4.7 percent to German energy consumption during 2012. In the foreseeable future, German solar energy will become so competitive that a viable solar market is expected to develop completely independently from any governmental incentive scheme.

However, the massive increase of renewable energies, mainly wind and solar energy, is creating new challenges for the overall power system. On April 18th at noon, the combined wind and solar power production in Germany peaked at 35.6 GW, the first time ever that solar and wind had combined to produce more than 50 percent of power on a high-consumption day during the working week.

A few weeks later, on Sunday June 16th at 1pm, wind and solar output constituted 60 percent of Germany’s production.

This increasing volatility of energy prices needs to be compensated, and the implementation of smart grids and energy storage to harness all this power is top of the current agenda. High fluctuations of electricity generation by wind and solar also have to be balanced by energy storage and smart grid technologies so that electricity demand can be met by supply in the future.

The Energiewende is now entering its second stage. Handling a few percent of renewable energy in the system is not the big challenge. But operating more than 20 percent renewables, which peak to more than 60 percent at times, is a much bigger challenge. Whereas the focus of the past decade was on the generation side and the increase in production, it’s now much more about integrating these massive renewable capacities efficiently into our system.

Being the first industrialized country to go through this fundamental shift, we are confident that the specialized expertise and solutions being created right now will be one of our unique strengths to export in the future.

Thomas Grigoleit is director of renewable energies and resources at economic development agency, Germany Trade and Invest

READ MORE: Green energy costs to spark bill rise

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Coalition horsetrading starts after Saxony vote
CDU leader Stanislav Tillich with SPD Martig Dulig. Photo: DPA

Coalition horsetrading starts after Saxony vote

Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic (CDU) party is in search of a new partner after the expulsion of its former allies the Free Democrats (FDP) from the Saxon state parliament. READ  

Presented by Phorms Education
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation
Photo: Phorms Education

Bilingual education from nursery to graduation

A network of German based schools is changing how students learn languages by introducing English and Deutsch from day one, with the method yielding impressive academic results. The Local finds out more about Phorms Education. READ  

JobTalk Germany
'German bosses need to praise more'
More of this? Photo: Shutterstock

'German bosses need to praise more'

What do German bosses need to do to get more out of their staff? Frankfurt-based business consultant Justin Bariso has this advice. READ  

Germany to send Kurds weapons shipment
German soldiers training with machine guns. Photo: DPA

Germany to send Kurds weapons shipment

Chancellor Angela Merkel is to address the Bundestag on Monday to detail the weapons her government will send to Iraqi Kurds fighting terrorist group Isis. READ  

Train drivers take their turn to strike
A banner announcing a previous rail strike in June is displayed in a station. Photo: DPA

Train drivers take their turn to strike

A train drivers' union has warned of a nationwide strike to take place on Monday evening as it seeks leverage in negotiations with Deutsche Bahn. READ  

Weak exports hit German GDP
Germany isn't sending as many goods abroad as at the beginning of the year. Photo: DPA

Weak exports hit German GDP

GDP fell by 0.2 percent in the second quarter of 2014 but state coffers are doing well, the Federal Office of Statistics Destatis announced on Monday. READ  

Anti-euro breakthrough
Anti-euro AfD nears 10 percent in state election
AfD politicians Hans-Olaf Henkel MEP and leader Bernd Lucke, celebrate the party's success in Saxony on Sunday. Photo: Daniel Naupold/DPA

Anti-euro AfD nears 10 percent in state election

UPDATED: Germany's anti-euro party, AfD, won its first seats in a state parliament on Sunday after elections in Saxony, according to preliminary results. READ  

Berlin to open memorial to Nazis' disabled victims
Auschwitz. Photo: DPA

Berlin to open memorial to Nazis' disabled victims

Benjamin Traub, a sad-eyed German boy born in 1914, was considered a bright child by his parents and called gifted by his teachers. His life would end in a Nazi gas chamber. READ  

Anti-euro party to debut in state parliament
AfD leader Bernd Lucke celebrates his party's EU election results. Photo: DPA

Anti-euro party to debut in state parliament

Germany's fledgling anti-euro party looks set to win its first seats in a state parliament on Sunday, gaining a political foothold in opposition to Chancellor Angela Merkel's grip on power. READ  

Stakes rise in Oracle-SAP copyright fight
Photo: DPA

Stakes rise in Oracle-SAP copyright fight

US appeals court on Friday ruled that Oracle be given a choice between $356.7 million or a new trial for its copyright lawsuit against German rival SAP. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Photo: Shutterstock
Gallery
Ten of the oddest things found by German border control
Photo: Gerkan, Marg and Partners/Tegel Projekt GmbH/J. Mayer
Berlin
How will Berlin look in five years' time?
Photo: DPA
Culture
Sprechen Sie Deutsch? 10 reasons why you should
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The best of Berlin's mayor Klaus Wowereit in 14 pictures
Photo: DPA
Politics
Germany sends burgers and sausages to Kurds
Photo: Matthias Kock
National
Tribes, ties and a movie: A German's Afghan life
Photo: DPA
Gallery
10 things to do before summer in Germany is really over
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The mysteries of Berlin's abandoned theme park
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,418
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd