Renewable energy in Germany is accelerating at a rapid rate. Latest data from the German government says renewable sources such as wind turbines, hydroelectric plants, solar and biogas provided nearly 17% of all Germany’s electricity in 2010. This figure blows past the previous target of 12.5% by 2010 and keeps Germany on track to achieve its 2030 target of 39% electricity coming from renewable energy sources.
Solar power installed in Germany during the month of December alone was 50% higher than the total amount of PV installed in the United States, and equal to the amount installed in Japan in 2010. Analysts are calling this achievement “nothing short of startling.”
On February 7, 2011, Germany achieved a record 32% electricity from combined real-time wind & solar generation. (See time chart below)
Considering this stellar record took place during the winter, many are expecting solar to break more records once summer comes with more sunny days.
In 2010, renewables provided more electricity to the German power grid that all gas-powered plants combined, and is fast approaching the percentage supplied by nuclear energy. In the wake of Japan’s nuclear disaster, German Chancellor Angela Merkel permanently closed two nuclear reactors and imposed a temporary moratorium on five others. This has unleashed a vigorous debate on the benefits vs. risks of nuclear power and the future shape of the industry in Germany.
The downfall of nuclear in Germany may catalyze the rise of renewables, especially solar power. Germany doubled its solar installations in 2010, installing 7,400MW of new capacity from over 250,000 individual systems. Germany attributes this dramatic rise in renewable energy to its generous feed-in-tariff program which incentives the distributed generation of renewable energy.