Nearly One Third of Germany Is Now Powered by Renewable Energy

One of the most industrial nations on the planet is running on an immense amount of clean energy.

Jul 29 2014, 6:50pm

GEOSOL / Wikimedia

Germany is now  producing 28.5 percent of its energy—nearly a third—with solar, wind, hydro, and biomass. In 2000, renewables accounted for just 6 percent of its power consumption. 

This is further proof that Germany is, essentially, the world leader in renewable energy. No other country has demonstrated such a dedicated, accelerated drive toward transitioning to clean power—in Germany's case, away from nuclear to solar and wind. It has done so by intensely incentivizing private and commercial solar, aggressively pursuing wind power contracts, and, yes, by raising, slightly, the cost of energy in the process.

A couple years ago, Germany broke a record when, for a day, its wind and solar plants generated enough clean power to meet  half the country's energy needs. This year, it broke a new one when they whipped up enough power to meet 75 percent of demand. That's three-fourths of a nation, running on clean energy. 

And not just any nation, either. Germany is one of the largest energy consumers in the world, with one of the most powerfully industrialized economies. And it is running on an immense amount of clean power. Today's milestone is important because it's not a spike from an exceptionally windy or sunny day—which are rare in Germany—but routine, average generation. 

The Federal Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) issued a release explaining the gains this morning: "The share of renewable energies in gross domestic energy consumption is expected to rise to 28.5 percent in the first half of 2014,"  BDEW reports, citing its own estimates. By way of comparison, "In the first half of 2013 the share of renewable energies in gross domestic energy consumption was still at 24.6 percent."

BDEW also details where the gains came from: Wind power grew by 21.4 percent in the first half of 2014, and produced 31 billion kWh. "Photovoltaic plants produced 18.3 billion kWh," and grew by 27.3 percent. Biomass was also up by 5.2 percent. All told, clean energy generated 22 billion kWh in 2014 so far. 

China is perhaps the only other nation building out clean energy so rapidly, but it is also building an immense fleet of polluting coal and gas plants, too (remember that  LA-sized 'coal base'?). If it's possible to transition away from the dirty energy of the past in time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, that road is being paved by Germany right now.