Germany to get 33% of its electricity from renewables this year (193 billion kWh!)
As I wrote about previously, Germany is one of the countries that are proving renewable energy skeptics wrong. Sure they didn't do things perfectly; there are issues with how subsidies are structured and costs will have been higher than others will pay because they were an early adopter (prices are falling quickly every year), but the general conclusion remains that it is possible for large countries with sophisticated, energy-intensive economies to get a very large fraction of their electricity from renewable sources. And this will only because easier and cheaper over time as grid-scale storage becomes cheaper and further mitigates the intermittency issues.
On many sunny and/or windy days, Germany gets more than half its electricity from renewables, sometimes sending spot prices for electricity into negative pricing because there is so much 'free' power available. In fact, on July 25 of this year, 78% of Germany's electricity came from renewables!
Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
Last year, Germany produced 161 billion kWh from renewable sources, or about 27% of electricity consumption. This year, thanks to rapid growth in solar and wind power, the country is on track to produce 193 billion kWh from renewable sources, or about 33% of total electricity consumption. That's grow of about 22% in just a year!
Though this is a preliminary estimate, on 31 October 2015 wind energy had already supplied 47% more electricity (63 billion kWh) that during the same time period in 2014.
Though the late autumn weather tends to be unpredictable, Germany’s solar sector has already provided as much electricity during that 10 month period (35 billion kWh) as the whole of 2014. (source)
This is even more impressive when you consider that Germany isn't exactly the sunniest or windiest place. What matters most is the political will to make a change, and support from the population. There are upfront costs to this infrastructure transition to clean sources of power, but there are also huge costs - many of them indirect or hidden - to the status quo. The fossil fuel industry has been heavily subsidized for decades and decades, and the environmental damage that they are causing might not always be visible on your utility bill, but it is nonetheless real, and humanity will foot the bill one way or another.
But this party is just getting started. To convince yourself of this, just look at this chart showing the falling cost of solar and the rapid growth in solar production:
Via The ECOReport