On April 30, Germany established a new national record for renewable energy use. Part of that day (during the long May 1 weekend), 85% of all the electricity consumed in Germany was being produced from renewables such as wind, solar, biomass, and hydroelectric power. Patrick Graichen of Agora Energiewende Initiative says a combination of breezy and sunny weather in the north and warm weather in the south saw Germany’s May 1 holiday weekend powered almost exclusively by renewable resources.
“Most of Germany’s coal-fired power stations were not even operating on Sunday, April 30th, with renewable sources accounting for 85 per cent of electricity across the country,” he said. “Nuclear power sources, which are planned to be completely phased out by 2022, were also severely reduced.”
Graichen says days like April 30 will become “completely normal” by 2030, as the federal government’s Energiewende, or energy revolution, begins to really reap the benefits of the investments made in renewable energy resources since 2010. German energy policies have been the subject of frequent attacks in the media, mostly from fossil fuel interests who would be only too happy to see it fail. However, chancellor Angela Merkel is a staunch supporter of the initiative and the German public is firmly behind it as well.
Just a few weeks ago, an energy auction for the rights to produce electricity from wind turbines off the coast of Germany startled most observers when it resulted in record low prices despite the fact that no energy subsidies were involved in the tender. Critics of renewables like to harp on the fact that many renewable energy projects are partially funded by government incentives, conveniently forgetting that those same governments have been giving away taxpayer money to fossil fuel companies for a century. This most recent auction gives the lie to assertions that renewables cannot survive without government assistance.
As it turns out, wind and solar energy are often cheaper than fossil fuels and nuclear energy these days, even ignoring the many negative effects fossil fuels create for society.
The new renewable record in Germany continues a trend. So far in 2017, renewable energy has consistently been a significant source of electrical power in Germany. In March of this year, over 40% of all electricity consumed in the country was provided by renewable sources.