Renewable energies in Germany

Renewable energies in Germany

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This week Technology Review published an interesting article on the great German energy experiment.

In 2010, the German government declared that it would carry out what it has popularly called Energiewende, a true energy revolution. This shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy is the most ambitious a highly industrialized country has ever attempted: the goal is reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% from 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% by mid-century.

The goal was challenging, but somehow made easier by the fact that Germany already generated more than 20% of its electricity from nuclear power, which produces almost no greenhouse gases. However, last year, in response to public concern over the disaster following the nuclear tsunami in Fukushima, Japan, Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered the immediate closure of the eight oldest German nuclear plants. A few months later, the government finalized a plan to close the remaining nine by 2022.

Now the Energiewende includes a move away from Germany's largest low-carbon electricity source.
Germany has carried out a grand experiment on itself that could have repercussions throughout Europe, which is largely dependent on German economic strength. The country must develop and use renewable energy technologies on an unprecedented scale, at enormous and uncertain cost, while reducing energy consumption. And it has as if that were not enough, all this without hurting your industry, which depends on reliable energy at a reasonable price.

The main players in the German energy industry are carrying out several strategies at the same time. To help replace nuclear power, they are rushing to install huge wind farms off the German coast, in the North Sea; and they are planning a new transmission infrastructure to bring power to Germany's industrial regions.

At the same time, companies such as Siemens, GE and RWE, Germany's largest power producer, are looking for ways to keep factories running during wind and solar downturns, in the form of cheap to large energy storage media. scale, hoping computers can intelligently coordinate what could be millions of distributed power sources.

Estimates of the cost of the transition vary widely, depending in part on how quickly new technologies can be introduced and their price is reduced. Several groups of economic experts predict that the country will invest between 125,000 million and 250,000 million dollars in infrastructure expansion and subsidies in the next eight years.

Germany has already incurred significant costs. Each monthly electricity bill carries a renewable energy surcharge of around 15% (heavy industry is exempt). Wholesale electricity prices have risen about 10% since the closure of the eight nuclear plants.

Despite the costs, Germany could benefit greatly from this grand experiment. In the last decade, the country has not only invested in wind and solar energy, but also in other lesser-known technologies, such as management software and efficient industrial processes. Together, these green technologies have created a $ 12 billion export industry that is set to grow further.
Government policies could provide more incentives to develop and implement new technologies.
If Germany succeeds in making the transition, it could provide a viable model for other industrialized countries, many of which will likely also face pressure to transform their energy consumption. “This Energiewende is being watched very closely. If it works in Germany, it will be a model for other countries, ”says Graham Weale, chief economist at RWE. "If not, it will be very detrimental to the German economy and that of Europe."
Source: The Great German Experiment

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Video: What is the German Energiewende? (August 2022).