Originally published in the ECOreport.
Renewable sources contributed 27% of Germany’s domestic electricity in the first quarter of 2014. In windy Schleswig-Holstein, which obtained 90% of its energy from renewable sources in 2013, residents hope to reach 100% this year. The role played by fossil fuels and the nuclear sectors is shrinking. Contrary to what naysayers have been predicting, Germany’s Energiewende is very much alive and on track.
The biggest “winners” in the first quarter were solar power, whose overall production was up 82.5%, and offshore wind, up 33%.
Natural gas production was down 19.7%, hard coal down 17.4%, and nuclear energy down 4.6%.
The biggest story is from Schleswig-Holstein, where the addition of 1.1 GW of wind capacity has made it possible to achieve 100% renewable electricity. Robert Habek, the little state’s Minister of Energy, said that will happen if this year’s wind yields are at least average.
“Over the next 10 years Schleswig-Holstein expects to increase the share of renewable energy sources in the gross electricity consumption to 300%, meeting 8% of the total German electricity needs,” wrote Matthias Laing on the German Energy Blog.
This would be triple the installed wind capacity from 2012.
Schleswig-Holstein intends to double its solar capacity during the same period.
Meanwhile the first draft of bill amending Germany’s Renewable Energy Source’s Act has been introduced to the German Parliament. Schleswig-Holstein has asked that it be amended so that wind facilities installed in 2014 still receive subsidies. A “breathing cap” is to be introduced whereby financial support for wind power will be reduced quarterly as of 2016. The amount is to be adjusted up or down, according to need.
Germany is one of the few Western European nations whose fossil fuel reserves are not close to exhaustion. It may have enough coal to last another century.
Nevertheless the installation of 4,000 solar-plus-battery systems would seem to herald the beginning of a new era. Germany may meet its goal of deriving 100% of its energy from renewable sources, without a fossil fuel back-up, by 2050.