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How Germany is leading the world with renewable energy

Wind and solar power generated 40.65 gigawatts (GW) of power on July 25 in Germany.

Germany has been relying on renewable energy to power its cities for a while now, after the country decided to transition from coal- and oil-fired power to carbon-free electricity. The transition has proven successful, seeing 74 percent of renewable energy meet the day’s demands in May 2014.

That record was beat, however, on July 25, when solar, wind and other sources of renewable energy met 78 percent of the energy demand.

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According to an analysis by German energy expert Craig Morris, helping set the record was an unusual weather pattern that brought heavy winds where most of the nation’s wind turbines are located. Morris stated that most of Germany’s wind turbines are installed in the north, while most of its solar panels are in the south.

If the figures hold, it will turn out that wind and solar generated 40.65 gigawatts (GW) of power on July 25. When this is combined with other forms of renewables, including 4.85 GW from biomass and 2.4 GW from hydropower, the total reaches 47.9 GW of renewable power.

Both the expansion of renewables and a relatively mild winter have resulted in Germany’s greenhouse emissions falling to their lowest level since 1990, according to analysts at Agora Energiewende.

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This is good news for the country, which requires the phasing out of nuclear energy by 2022 and reducing greenhouse gases by at least 80 percent by 2050.

The German government also wants at least double the percentage of renewable in the energy mix by 2035.

Osha Gray Davidson, author of Clean Break, a book about Germany’s transition to clean energy, told TakePart that 28 percent of Germany’s electricity comes from renewables annually, “which is pretty amazing for a large industrialized country.”

He also noted that Germany is a good model for the United States.

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“Manufacturing accounts for much more of the German economy than the American economy, and they have 80 million people—much larger than a country like Denmark, which gets more of its power from renewables but has a much smaller industrial base, and has a population of five and a half million people,” he said.

Currently, the United States gets about 10 percent of its energy demand from renewable sources, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

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[SOURCE: Energy Transition, Think Progress]

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