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Published on July 26th, 2012 | by Thomas Gerke


Germany — 26% of Electricity from Renewable Energy in 1st Half of 2012

July 26th, 2012 by  

During the first half of 2012, the share of renewable energy sources in the electricity supply has risen significantly in Germany, rising to a sensational 25.97%. That’s a massive increase compared to 20.56%, the percentage during the same period in 2011, and 18.3% in H1 2010.

PV-Solar Contribution Increases 47%

In total, renewable energy sources produced 67.9 TWh (billion kWh). While all renewables have increased their share, there has been a significant change in the ranking of the different technologies, with PV-Solar(!) coming in 3rd, ahead of hydropower and right behind biomass (1% behind it).

Here’s a breakdown of the 26% between the different technologies and the changes compared to 1H 2011:

  1. Wind power with a share of 9.2% (+19.5%)
  2. Biomass with a share of 5.7% (+7.5%)
  3. PV-Solar with a share of 5.3% (+47%)
  4. Hydropower with 4.0% (+25%)
  5. Other Renewables 0.9% (+10%)

Of course, a part of the massive increase has been weather-related. For example, January was very windy compared to the last few years, and a bit more rain is the only reason hydropower increased its share. But, overall, the trend is clear, and all of these sources are here to stay.

Looking Back & Forward

While this new record share of renewables is just another step on the road towards a 100% renewable energy system, it’s with no doubt a big one. Not only did more than one quarter of all electricity come from renewable energy sources, but 22% of the entire electricity supply came from what was once called “alternative energy sources”.

Almost one decade ago, at the end of 2002, their share was just 3.8%. Back then, most renewable energy technologies were quite underdeveloped by today’s standards. Except for the wind power industry, the entire renewable energy industry was still in its infancy. One decade later, wind, biomass, and solar energy technologies have matured significantly and their contribution to the German electricity supply has increased by more than 18%.

Today, energy storage, the “missing link” of the 100% renewable energy system, is a lot more developed than solar power was in 2002. While research and development into the next generation of storage technologies has increased dramatically, investments do already pour into the commercialization of the latest existing technologies. A wide variety of companies and corporations have already started to invest heavily in the mass production of energy storage solutions, and huge battery factories are being opened around the globe.

Considering all this, how high will the share of renewable energy sources in Germany be by 2022?

In my opinion, 40% would be a very conservative estimate.

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About the Author

is a close observer of the scientific, political and economic energy debate in Germany and around the globe. Inspired by the life's work of the renewable energy advocate Hermann Scheer, Thomas focuses on spreading information that showcase the possibilities & opportunities of a 100% renewable energy system. Though technology is key for this energy shift, he also looks at the socio-economic benefits and the political, as well as structural barriers.

  • Tim Curtin

    I see no mention of Germany’s substantial imports of non-renewable power since May 2011, nor of its announcement that it will build 23 new coal fired power stations. In short the article is great example of how to confuse with misleading statistics.

  • Clay Thompson

    Any word on what kind of biomass that was used? I know we are seeking an uptick of wood pellets for the US going to European markets.

  • Tim

    even though a speed like this would be desirable and the achievement is impressive, let’s don’t exaggerate. We are talking about generation and the total dropped considerably – due to closure of nuclear plants – therefore other sources are naturally higher in %. F.i. let’s phase out all nuclear and fossil tomorrow and RE is at 100% – nonsense.

    Generation Germany
    all 2011: 612twh
    half 2011: 612/2=306twh (this was likely higher as the plants’ closures were in May, I don’t have a better number)
    Total renewables 1st half 2011: 20,6% x 306twh = 63twh
    Total renewables 1st half 2012: 26% x 261,5twh = 68twh (=increase of 7.9%)

    If the nuclear generation would have continued (and f.i. overproduction have been sold externally) and only be reduced by the amount of new RE, therefore keeping the total generation constant at 306twh, then the proportion would have been:
    1st half 2011: 20,6%
    1st half 2012: 22,2%
    Add only 1.6%-points (and worse if total generation was higher in 1st half 2011).

    In essence I think the RE development will be very dynamic with variable future additions in phases.

    The nuclear phase out will continue, but at a slower pace. Let’s say a reasonable development in %-points of the RE proportion will be 1.5%-steps per year starting from 26% now. Till 2022 ten years to go, thus 26%+1.5%x10 = 41%. However, it remains to be seen if this is reasonable, as due to rising proportion of variable sources the limit will be the transmission more and more often – leading to idle RE resources. On the other hand, once accomplished, say after 2020, and with offshore kicking in, I would expect things to speed up again (say 2% per year) until a certain threshold is reached and storage is really needed for further improvement, maybe 2030, thus 10*2%+41%=61%. What happens then cannot be predicted honestly. It may even be environmentally beneficial to stall here for a while and concentrate on CO2 reductions elsewhere by powering electrically (personally I don’t buy the -10% electricity consumption reduction plan – f.i. electrical cars will be phased in) even though the government is predicting 80% in 2050. It could be 90% or 100%, but as always the last meters will be the toughest.

  • Ideally they should replace the Fossil Fuels with Renewables to reduce pollution.  Great Job Germany.

  • Anne

    Congrats, Thomas! Your country is doing very well. I’m jealous. Energy policy in The Netherlands is dominated by the big fossil companies and renewable energy is going nowhere.

    Just today I read an interview in the newspaper with the departing CEO of Imtech, a 5 billion dollar technical services company. Even he complained about it. How the energy landscape is suffocated by these big corporations and their stranglehold on our energy ‘policy’ that focuses exclusively on big, central, inefficient, polluting powerplants. And how Germany with its support for decentralised energy generation should be an example for us.

  • Captivation

    So if you double 26% you get 52%.  And if you double 52% you get clean energy exports. Moore’s law beats Murphy’s law every time.

  • Ross

    As a leader Germany probably needs to start thinking about becoming a 100%+ renewable energy country. 

  • Luke

    By 2022? I’d like be bet somewhere above 70%…

  • Ceesabc

    Superlike…..!!!!! Its really good news for all. Thanks a lot for giving us such a great information. After reading this i think other countries ll surely think about this and the natural existance of energy will get save.
    Likewise, we have certificate programs and courses in energy education, It is known as “College of Energy, Environment and Sustainability (CEES)” .
    CEES is an education initiative of Bridging Nations, US, a nonprofit, policy organization based in Washington D.C. CEES endeavors to bring in energy and environment education and create the energy leaders of tomorrow.


  • I just posted about this as well and reported “25%”, since that was what the release at BDEW said. But assuming your calculations are correct, it is actually 26, or 5 more than 2011.

    If that pace is kept up, we will reach the goal for 2020 of 35% (as in Article 1 of the law on priority for renewable energy,. EEG)  already two years from now.

    And 2022 would see 75% renewable.

  • OshaDavidson

    Is this the first time wind AND solar have each generated more than nuclear over a 6-month period? If so, that’s an important milestone. 

    • ThomasGerke

      I think you are right. 🙂

      It’s also the first time that renewables produced enough energy to supply the electricity demand of all German households (in theory).

    • Bill_Woods

      wind & solar: 57% * 67.9 TW-h = 38.7 TW-h
      nuclear: 20% * 261.5 TW-h = 52.3 TW-h
      So, no.

      • OshaDavidson

        Thanks, Bill. I misread the info graphic. But I’m still impressed by the total renewable performance.

  • Aa

    I think 85 %

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