Germany Breaks Renewables Record with Coal and Nuclear Power Responsible for Only 15% of Country's Total Energy
by Jasmine A Lomax, LEED GA, CGP
USGBC-LA Bd of Directors, Project Engineer
Germany has broken a new record for renewable energy, with low-carbon sources nearly obliterating coal and nuclear power last weekend. At one point on the sunny and breezy Sunday, sustainable energy from wind, solar, biomass and hydro power provided a record 85% of the country’s total energy.
Germany has been investing heavily in renewables, as part of the government's Energiewende initiative to transition away from fossil fuels and nuclear power to a low carbon, environmentally sound, reliable, and affordable energy supply by 2050. Investment in sustainable energy has been so successful that for several hours on Sunday electricity prices fell into negative figures, as renewable sources fed so much power into the grid that supply exceeded demand.
Coal use fell to an all-time low, with public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reporting that on 30 April coal-fired power stations were only operational between three and four in the afternoon and produced less than eight gigawatts of energy, well below their maximum output of about 50 gigawatts.
“Most of Germany's coal-fired power stations were not even operating on Sunday.” “Nuclear power sources, which are planned to be completely phased out by 2022, were also severely reduced.”
Germany announced in May 2011 that it plans to shut down all its nuclear power plants by 2022, in addition to nearly eliminating fossil fuel power..
The country's ambitious energy transition aims for at least 80% of all power to come from renewables by 2050, with intermediate targets of 35% to 40% share by 2025 and 55% to 60% by 2035