photo: Jason/CC BY-ND
Germany's strong push in renewable energy over recent years is paying off. According to Der Spiegel (via Mongabay), Germany now produces 20.8% of its electricity from renewable sources. That's an increase of 15 percentage points since 2000, with an an increase of 2.5 percentage points in the last year alone.
In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Germany has planned to phase out all of its nuclear power by 2022, setting the goal of having 35% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Mongabay does a good job summarizing the history of Germany's renewable energy efforts:
Over the past decade, wind and biomass have fueled Germany's growth in clean energy. In 2011, however, photovoltaic (solar energy) began driving growth in the renewable energy sector--even though Germany receives roughly the same amount of sunlight as Alaska. Photovoltaic solar power increased more than 76 percent in the past year and now accounts for 3.5 percent of electricity production-- more than hydropower. Considering hydroelectricity contributes only 3.3 percent of Germany's power, the share of solar, wind, and biomass derived energy has grown considerably.
Behind all of this renewable energy growth has been strong government support for clean energy and consistent (if not entirely unchanging) policy.
Germany's implementation of feed-in tariffs are generally considered to be among the best in the world. Under these programs, people generating electricity from renewable sources are paid an above-market rate for that power, with the cost of the program spread across all consumers of electricity. The additional cost to the consumer is minimal, in the range of a few Euro extra a month.
Compare the German example to that of the US, where support for renewable energy has been inconsistent at the Federal level and scattered at the state level. The stats bear this out: The United States generates only 10% of its electricity from renewable sources; only 4% if you take hydropower out of the picture.
While there are a number of nations that generate a higher percentage of their electricity from renewable sources--as well as a few US states it should be pointed out--hydropower figures strongly into all of these.
At the broader level, the German experience shows what political will and appropriate policy can do to promote clean energy--how we generate our electricity is a choice and we can choose not to pollute.
More on Energy in Germany
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