One thing we have learnt this week – German Energiewende

The German Energiewende or transition to renewables is controversial both at home and abroad.  This blog has detailed some of the issues about what to do with the excess power, although the problems put about by prominent climate sceptics seem to have been exaggerated.  There have not been wide spread power outages.  Another area of controversy has been over the German Energiewende and coal use.  Many critics say that the closure of nuclear power has led to the production of much more electricity by coal, increasing CO2 emissions.  The latest figures suggest this is not true.

The first graphic shows Germany’s installed generation capacity.

German installed generation capacityThe second shows the change in power output between Q1 2013 and Q1 2014.  Both figures from the Fraunhofer Institute.


German output by type Of course the data is only for two quarters and the winter was mild and more conducive to solar and wind output.  It does nevertheless suggest the German Energiewende is not necessarily leading to more coal use.

Another criticism of the German Energiewende is that Germany is importing fossil fuel or nuclear generated electricity from elsewhere in Europe.  Again the latest data suggests this is not the case.  Germany continued to export power in Q1 2014.  It was 4.6TWh, the lowest ever, but its still positive.

The Germans should be congratulated on their Energiewende.  They are leading where the rest of us must follow and we can learn from them.  The UK is fast catching up in terms of wind and solar with over 1GWp of solar alone installed in the first quarter of this year.  Therefore some of the excess power issues are going to show this summer or the year after.  Some more details about the German Energiewende data can be seen here.


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