Wind turbines surround a coal-fired power plant near Garzweiler in western Germany. Renewables now generate 27 percent of the country’s electricity, up from 9 percent a decade ago. PHOTO: Nat Geo
Germany has been one of the few countries that have successfully moved away from nuclear energy. Germany has so far successfully shut down its nine units that had the capacity of generating enough power for at least 20 million homes in Europe. In fact, the contribution of nuclear power in Germany’s electricity generation has now fallen to just 16 percent and renewables are now the preferred source of electricity generation in the country.
Germany is pioneering an epochal transformation it calls the energiewende—an energy revolution that scientists say all nations must one day complete if a climate disaster is to be averted. Last year about 27 percent of its electricity came from renewable sources such as wind and solar power, three times what it got a decade ago and more than twice what the United States gets today. The change accelerated after the 2011 meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, which led Chancellor Angela Merkel to declare that Germany would shut all 17 of its own reactors by 2022.
Germany is set to overtake the UK as the biggest installer of offshore wind globally. Denmark comes behind the UK by capacity, followed by Belgium and China. PHOTO: Reuters/Fabian Bimmer
We first discussed wind energy, as a viable resource to power the world’s needs, almost three years ago. Prior to that and in the time hence, Germany has done much about it. The country has chalked out a plan to replace nuclear power plants with offshore wind farms in a bid to use renewable energy round-the-clock. Importantly, the country is sticking to its plan. Above all, it is building on it.
Germany has hugely ambitious green goals. Five years ago it set a goal to produce 18% of its energy from renewables by 2020 (latest figures show it having reached 12.4%). The country also wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2020, compared with 1990 levels, and by 80% by 2050. The transformation is knows as the Energiewende—literally “energy turn.”