Although worldwide renewables (wind, solar, biofuels, geothermal) are still primarily tax-subsidized and only supplemental to fossil fuels, Germany, Europe’s largest economy and among global gross domestic product leaders, has set very ambitious long-term goals for the energy supremacy of renewables.
Having decided to shut off its nuclear reactors by 2022, along with further slashing greenhouse and gas emissions Germany requires of its population the world’s most ambitious renewable energy expansion. Last year, Germany generated 22% of its electricity from renewable sources, up from only 8% a decade ago. This is twice as much as has been achieved by the U.S., the United Kingdom, or Japan.
Germany’s goals, under its “energy evolution” is to generate at least 35% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, and at least 80% by mid-century. Berlin hopes to make this happen, while cutting its total energy consumption in half by 2050.
Such an ambitious strategy is questioned even by “renewable advocates,” who now look to Germany as a key genesis for the rest of the commercial/industrialized world to follow. On the other hand, doubters criticize this approach for imposing additional high costs on households and industries that already pay far more for electric power and its usage than those in similarly advanced industrial nations.
A part of Germany’s success is that small-scale energy producers are dominating the growth of Germany’s renewable energy sector. Households with solar panels, already profuse throughout Germany, and farms proficient in bio-fuel conversion, account for 35% of the country’s renewable energy supply. Another 25% is contributed by the producers of green energy, such as ethanol and geothermal. Since Germany, even under an advanced modern Democratic form of government, is still unique in its goal-setting, its highly ambitious objectives shouldn’t be taken lightly; but hardly as a template for other nations, who don’t exhibit the same sense of national discipline.
The recent history of Germany’s zeal for the use of solar and wind power, in a nation that has far less availability to those elements than other nations with more plentiful natural capability, arise out of a desire to shed nuclear energy, especially after the Chernobyl disaster of the 1980′s, and the Japanese Fukushima catastrophe in early 2011.
Although instigated under Socialist Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, and now implemented by Conservative successor Angela Merkel, Germany will be totally nixing nuclear energy in the next decade. This is based on Germany’s traditional record of successfully achieving its economic goals; but it will be doing so at a much higher cost per energy unit than now exists.
However, it’s estimated that the implementation of these ambitious energy objectives, are already the highest in Europe, and three times more cost per unit than the U.S. This could eventually generate a popular push-back. With exports proving the main key to Germany’s economic achievements, any impact on its future global competitiveness could eventually instigate a reassessment of its laudable energy programming.
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