• Germany's news in English
 

'We’ll see energy revolution to the end'

Published: 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)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Arsonists hit pro-refugee art project
The burnt ruins of the art project. Photo: DPA

Arsonists hit pro-refugee art project

An art installation dedicated to refugees was burnt down in Berlin early on Tuesday, with police suspecting it to be an arson attack. READ  

Hurricane Niklas
Storm Niklas kills at least three, stops trains
This train in Lower Saxony had to stop after striking a fallen tree. Photo: DPA

Storm Niklas kills at least three, stops trains

Hurricane “Niklas” has reportedly claimed three victims, while trains have been cancelled across Germany as the storm rages. READ  

Stuttgart worst city for traffic jams
Photo: DPA

Stuttgart worst city for traffic jams

GPS company TomTom released data on Tuesday showing which cities have the worst traffic problems. The conclusion: Stuttgart is Germany's worst city for commuters. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Lufthansa cancels 60th jubilee celebration
Photo: DPA

Lufthansa cancels 60th jubilee celebration

Germany's national airline Lufthansa announced on Tuesday that it would cancel celebrations for the 60th anniversary of its founding in 1955. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Doctors warn against snap crash reaction

Doctors warn against snap crash reaction

The president of Germany's Council of Psychotherapists said on Tuesday that there was no reason why the country should loosen its rules on doctor-patient confidentiality in the wake of the Germanwings crash. READ  

Merkel urges Germans: Give Greece a chance
Chancellor Merkel speaking in Helsinki. Photo: DPA

Merkel urges Germans: Give Greece a chance

On a visit to Helsinki on Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel showed a patient side to the German government as the Eurozone continues to wait for a new list of economic reforms from Greece. READ  

Unemployment at new post-unification low
Photo: DPA

Unemployment at new post-unification low

German unemployment fell in March to the lowest level since the country reunited in 1990 as growth in Europe's biggest economy continues to pick up, official data showed on Tuesday. READ  

Trabi project aims to electrify 'Ostalgia'
A Trabant being converted into an E-car. Photo: DPA

Trabi project aims to electrify 'Ostalgia'

Its chuntering motor and belching exhaust once heralded the coming of the communist utopia. Now the east German 'Trabi' is leading a new revolution, and this time you won't hear it coming. READ  

Gun maker denies problems with army rifles
A German soldier aims a G36 rifle. Photo: DPA

Gun maker denies problems with army rifles

Update: Weapons manufacturer Heckler & Koch denied on Monday evening that the G36 rifles it supplied to the Bundeswehr (German army) lose their accuracy when they are too hot. READ  

Germany, France, Italy want Euro drones
An American Reaper drone. Photo: DPA

Germany, France, Italy want Euro drones

Germany, France and Italy plan to push forward with plans for a European-made military drone, the German government told MPs on Monday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Germany
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Travel
Munich tram fans bicker over new bell
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Photo: Police
Rhineland
Student driver crashes tank into family garden.
Photo: DPA
Politics
There was a notable absence at the Anti-Semitism Commission
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
All you ever needed to know about Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
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

6,999
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd