Energy sources have metamorphosed throughout the history of technological innovations. The need to meet the demand requirements with supply targets has been top of mind for energy researchers and innovators.
Renewable energy sources have turned out to be the answer to balancing out energy needs worldwide. Carbon neutral sources such as sunlight, wind, geothermal heat and rain are perfect examples of renewable sources, while biomass fuels made from organic and animal matter such as wood, waste from farms and energy crops have a debatable carbon neutral status but still play a significant role in the renewable energy industry.
There are four primary areas where renewables are utilized: electricity production, heating and cooling, off-grid energy needs and transportation. In Germany, renewable energy sources are primarily based on wind, solar and biomass fuels.
Interesting Facts About Renewable Energy In Germany
Germany has gradually been phasing out its use of fossil fuels in the electricity sector, targeting to reduce the emissions used in this sector by nearly 60% by 2030. They are among the early adopters of renewable energy, going as far back as the 1990s.
In 2020, Germany’s gross electricity generation from renewable sources peaked at 251 terawatt-hours bringing it closer to becoming a major contributor to the European Union’s efforts to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
Although wind power is the primary source of renewable energy in Germany, offshore wind farms only recently contributed to this energy sector. On the other hand, Hydropower contributes the least to the energy generation sector in Germany with a steady decline from the 2000s. With the expansion of the wind energy sector, employment has also increased, leading to nearly 121,000 employees as of 2020.
This energy mix works well for Germany as it does not have to rely on only one source of renewables and can function adequately with the options at its disposal.
How Far Germany Has Come In The Renewable Energy Journey.
Energiewende is a compound word used to express Germany’s all-encompassing climate and energy strategy. The term is a combination of two words: energy and transition. It gained popularity after a book with the same name was published in the 1980s, outlining its exact meaning and reasons for adoption. It started as an approach involving energy efficiency, energy security, renewables and nuclear phaseout, with climate change coming in much later into the mix. Its success or failure, however, is constantly measured via carbon emissions counts. Germany has a target of cutting down its present emissions by 80 – 95%, below the levels seen in the 1990s.
Industries in Germany have not had the smoothest ride through this renewables roller coaster, but one sector that has given way for a new one is the coal sector. The structural transformation that took hold of the coal sector saw five times as many employees in the wind energy sector as coal, starting from the 2000s. With further data analysis, it was evident that roughly one in two employees of the energy sector works in renewables, that is almost 700,000 more people in the energy sector as compared to the early days of Energiewende.
Germany has acquired exponential growth in the wind energy sector, which accounted for 23.7 per cent of total electricity generated in 2020. The use of solar PV, which was at one point Europe’s largest solar market and the hydropower stations, which produced 18.7 billion kilowatts in 2020, is also part of this energy sector growth. They also stand as the fifth largest bioenergy capacity globally, with a cumulative installed capacity of biomass plants reaching 9,301 megawatts in 2020.
Favourable Renewable Energy Policies In Germany
In Germany, the market premium scheme is the major support for renewables. This type of scheme is characteristic of several EU countries.
Some support schemes are
- Feed-in-Tariff: this is a policy that guarantees above market price for producers. It works for power plants of up to 100 KW, where the amount of tariff is set by law and paid by the grid operator to the plant operators for 20 years.
- Tendering: these are competitive mechanisms for allocating financial support to renewable energy sources projects, usually based on the cost of electricity production. For Germany, onshore and offshore wind projects starting from 750 kW, solar projects starting from 750 kW, biomass plants starting from 150 kW and already existing biomass plants must be awarded in a tendering procedure.
Other policies include:
- Training programmes for Installers: Installers are trained in the art of renewables technologies in the framework of craftsmen training.
- Certification Programmes for RES installations: Plants must comply with the technical requirements by acquiring certificates depending on the particular technology to be connected to the grid.
- Exemplary role of public authorities: Public authorities must promote an exemplary role in carrying out their duties on renewable energy.
Ongoing Renewable Energy Projects In Germany
According to the European Energy Agency, within the EU, offshore wind energy production is expected to increase up to five times by 2040. In the German Baltic Sea, several projects are meant to be underway with a call for tenders to install renewable energy sources in three zones within the Baltic Sea, sent out by the German government on March 1 2021.
Other projects such as Borkum Riffgrund 3, a 900 MW offshore wind farm, is scheduled for operation in 2025, while the Kaskasi project will be commissioned by 2022.
Expert Projections On Renewable Energy Growth In Germany
Wind energy production could become the most crucial energy source in Europe by 2050, and Germany could produce 36 GW of this energy through offshore wind energy by 2050. However, with the closure of coal-fired power plants, Germany may have to increase this production rate to 50 GW to compensate for those closures. The general plan is to produce 20 GW by 2030 and increase that to 40 GW by 2040.
Despite having several renewable energy sources, Germany is focusing on wind energy to make sure it meets its set targets and the EU and Paris Agreement. These targets are ambitious but necessary in the long run. And we believe that by integrating smart grid technologies and powerful grid data analytics software, Germany is a step closer to achieving its targets more effectively.