Germany continues breaking clean energy records  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

Grist has a post on the continued expansion of renewable energy capacity in Germany - Germany continues breaking clean energy records.

As the nuclear reactor accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant continues to dominate the world's attention, Germany has quietly broken more renewable energy records.

The conservative government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, struggling to stay ahead of public attitudes toward nuclear power in the run-up to regional elections, issued its annual report on the contribution of renewable energy to the German energy market in 2010.

Wind turbines, hydroelectric plants, solar cells, and biogas digesters now provide nearly 17 percent of Germany's electricity.

Meanwhile, the German network agency Bundesnetzagentur issued its final update on the installation of solar photovoltaics (PV) in 2010.

The results are nothing short of startling and will add fuel to the heated debate about how countries such as Japan can meet their electricity needs without reliance on nuclear power.

In the immediate aftermath of the Japanese nuclear accident, Germany's Merkel closed two reactors permanently, and another five temporarily. She also called on her government to revisit its controversial decision to extend the life of its aging reactors.

The reactors at Fukushima Daiichi are 40 years old and their license to operate had been extended by the Japanese government.

The reports on the rapid growth of renewable energy in Germany may give Merkel's government the cover it needs to reverse direction on nuclear power, and by doing so reverse its faltering political fortunes.

Germany uses an advanced system of feed-in tariffs to pay for renewable energy generation, and has an aggressive target of meeting 39 percent of its electricity supply with renewable energy by 2020. Its system of advanced renewable tariffs has enabled Germany to exceed its 2010 target of 12.5 percent by a wide margin.

Chart.New renewables near 17 percent of electricity supply in 2010: The German Ministry for the Environment and Reactor Safety reports [PDF] that in 2010, renewable energy generated more than 100 TWh (billion kilowatt-hours) of electricity, providing nearly 17 percent of the 600 TWh of supply.

Wind turbines and biomass plants delivered more than 70 percent of renewable generation.

Biogas plants powered with methane from manure alone generated nearly 13 TWh.

In 2010, renewables generated more electricity in Germany than gas-fired power plants -- nearly as much as hard coal -- and are fast approaching the contribution of nuclear power.

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