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Graphs of the Day: The success of Germany’s energy transition

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There is a great debate about the success or otherwise of Germany’s Energiewende, or Energy Transition. Most of it is uninformed, and much of it is fuelled by the nuclear and coal industries, which have most to lose from the push into renewables by Europe’s most successful economy.

This series of graphs shows how the renewable targets are on track, have lowered emissions, decoupled energy consumption from economic growth, pushed wholesale prices down to record lows, and are now pushing retail prices down. And it has done some interesting things to the energy mix.

The graphs were prepared in a report by Agora Energiewende, a Berlin-based think tank whose former head Rainer Bakke is now the chief advisor to Germany’s energy and economics minister on the future of the Energiewende.

The first graph shows that the renewable target is still on track. This graph shows the target for 2025, and that will continue to a target of 55-60 per cent by 2035, and 80 per cent by 2050.

agora re target

This next one shows that renewable energy is now the biggest source of energy, ahead of lignite (brown coal).

gora power mix

Over the last two decades, Germany has successfully broken the nexus between electricity demand and economic growth. As this graph shows, economic growth is up 40 per cent since 1990, but electricity demand has fallen significantly in recent years.

agora pwoer economy

And it has also decoupled the rise in emissions that usually accompanies economic growth. Emissions are now at their second lowest level since 1990, after resuming their fall after a brief rise following the post-Fukushima closure of several large nuclear power plants.

agora emissions

The increase in renewable energy and the fall in demand has brought about a fall in power prices – to their lowest levels in decades …

agora prices wholesale

And this is expected to be finally reflected in  retail prices. It was always anticipated that retail electricity prices would rise initially due to the renewable energy surcharge, but that this would eventually be reversed as the level of subsidy was reduced and finally removed.

agora prices retail

This graph shows the changes in the energy mix, with renewables growing strongly, mostly at the expense of nuclear in recent years, although coal and lignite are down from their 1990 levels.

agora power growth

Black coal is also at its second lowest level since 1990 …

agora hard coal

Contrary to expectations of the nay-sayers, Germany has increased its energy exports after the nuclear phase out ….

agora energy mix 2010-14

Here is some more information on the changes in renewable energy mix …

agora renewables

 

Which has led to some interesting days of generation. These two landmark days show record renewable contribution and record solar contribution.

agora maximums

This is what the renewables contribution looks like over the autumn/winter period, with an increasing contribution from wind as the weather turns cold …

agora autumn generation

And this is what it looks like in spring, as solar increases its contribution ….

agora generation spring

Despite all this, and the predictions that this would herald a “golden age” of gas, because of its flexibility and ability to fill in the gaps, the use of gas in power production is now heading towards record lows, partly due to its high cost, and because other plants have learned to be more flexible.

agora gas

 

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  • Gongite

    Those graphs say it all…this is required reading for all the doubters out there. Thanks for sharing!

  • Alan Baird

    It can’t be true! However, occasional features on Deutche Welle media programs do show the extent of the admiration for ground-breaking technology in Germany.Well worth emulating. It is an astonishing comparison with Australia where a loony rerun of the GOP vs milquetoast progressives is taking place.

  • Ray Del Colle

    Switching to renewable, sustainable energy will stimulate the economy, create jobs, save money and clean up the environment. “Is it too hard to go to the moon, eradicate smallpox or end apartheid? Is it too hard to build a computer that fits in your pocket? No? Then it’s not too hard to build a clean energy future, either.” http://clmtr.lt/c/Tdv0fz0cMJ

  • Todd McKissick

    And when Germany becomes energy independent, they will no longer be slave to other countries for it. Just think of the resource wars and sanctions that has led to in the past (or currently) and most of all the expense. Of course, the US will use this period in history to go as far into debt as possible, not get out of debt.

  • JCH

    Some of this is misleading. The government document on the Energiewende was issued in September 2010.There is no significant decrease in CO2 emissions since then, mainly because gas-fired plants were shut down and the production gap was filled by lignite-fired plants (http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/researchers-alarmed-at-rise-in-german-brown-coal-power-output-a-942216.html). Steps are being taken to address this problem.

  • Wind power, biomass and photovoltaic together generated 126 billion kilowatt hours last year (2014). This is equivalent to the electricity consumption of 36 million households (3 people = 3,500 kWh). The ambitious green energy plan ist very popular among Germans. The Agency for Renewable Energies did a survey on acceptance of renewable energy and found out that a majority of 92 percent will support an increasing development. http://strom-report.de/renewable-energy/#ren

  • Sol Invictus

    You are cunning, aren’t you? You lumped together all renewables, you split the shares of hard carbon and lignite and – boom! – “renewables 2014 win first place in German electricity generation – just bevor (sic) lignite”. I’d put it more honestly: renewables generated 26,2% of total electricity, fossil fuels 52,7%: twice as much.