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Country profile: Germany's energy sector

Renewables leading the Germany energy industry

A decade ago renewables accounted for just nine percent of Germany’s electricity, now that figure sits at 30 percent. The country is in the middle of an energy revolution that scientists say all nations will have to undertake if climate disaster is to be averted.

Onshore wind farms make up 12 percent of this figure with biomass the next biggest renewable at 6.8 percent, and solar power generating the third largest amount of green energy at 5.9 percent.

As far as fossil fuels go, lignite and hard coal are still widely used, generating 24 percent and 18.2 percent of the county’s power respectively. Natural gas is being squeezed out and has dropped significantly since 2003, although it is likely it’s at its minimum possible usage and won’t go down much further than the 8.8 percent where it sits now.

Since 2003, renewable energy has slowly pushed out nuclear energy due to many reactors being shut down and plenty of new on and offshore wind farms being built. This is in line with the government’s plans for a 2022 phase out of all nuclear energy.

The amount of electricity generated by wind farms is likely to jump once again in the final 2016 figures as developers rush to complete projects before auctions are rolled out in 2017 as part of the reform of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) – the current version of which is responsible for the quick growth in green energy.

As part of this reform, the government is moving from a feed-in tariff to an auction system that will allow it to better control the rise in renewable power to reach the target of 80 percent by 2050. A strict ‘deployment corridor’ will mean only a certain amount of capacity volume is to be auctioned off each year. This will control the growth of the renewables sector, keeping it in line with the needs of the country.

Despite the public approval surrounding green energy plans, the future of coal is a contentious subject in Germany and a decision on a full phase out is likely to wait until after the 2017 elections.

Image credit: EVZONI

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