Germany’s Energy Conundrum

National Economy

The population of the Federal Republic of Germany is approximately 84.06 million people[1]. In 2019, 100% of the people in this Central European country had access to electricity[2].

In 2019, Germany’s economy was ranked 4th in the world in gross domestic product (GDP)[3]. The country’s economy[4] is dependent on the export of cars, vehicle parts, planes, helicopters, spacecraft, and pharmaceuticals.

Environment Policies

In 2009, Germany as a member of the European Union (EU) committed to the Renewable Energy Directive,” which requires each country to use renewable energy for 20% of its total energy needs by 2020 and 27% by 2030.

In 2011, Germany decided to close eight nuclear power plants, as a result of the nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima, Japan. The country’s last remaining nuclear power plant, Neckarwestheim 2 is schedule to close by year-end 2022.

In 2016, Germany as a member of the EU signed the “Paris Climate Agreement”[5]. The EU committed to a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emission by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

In 2018, Germany granted permits to the Russian energy company, Gazprom to increase the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline capacity into the country by 55 billion cubic meters (1.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas).

In 2020, electric utilities[6] used renewable energy (59.9%), coal (20.3%), natural gas (14.0%), nuclear (3.8%), and oil (2.0%) to fuel power plants in Germany. Onshore wind, solar, biomass, offshore wind, and hydropower are the primary sources of renewable energy in Germany.

Recent renewable energy projects in Germany include:

  • 200 MW Offshore Wind Project – In June 2020, German power company, Trianel GmbH commissioned the Borkum West II Offshore Wind Farm, which is located approximately 28 miles off the  northern coast of Borkum Island.
  • 187 MW Solar Project – In December 2020, German utility, EnBW commissioned a solar project, which is located near the German capital, Berlin.
  • 112 MW Offshore Wind Project – In January 2020, EnBW commissioned the Albatros Offshore Wind Project, which is located approximately 65 miles off the German coast.
  • 4.1 MW Agrivoltaic Project – In October 2020, German solar developer, Next2Sun completed an agrivoltaic project with an apiary and solar panels at a site located in the southern Germany.
  • 750 kW Floating Solar Project – In September 2020, German solar developer, Rheinland Solar commissioned a floating solar project near the town of Weeze in eastern Germany.

Conclusions

In 2010, 50.2% of Germany’s electricity was generated from zero-carbon power plants, renewables (42.4%) and nuclear power (7.8%). Ten years later,63.7% of Germany’s electricity was generated from zero-carbon power plants, renewables (59.9%) and nuclear power (3.8%).

The development of new renewable energy power plants over the past decade has resulted in Germany making progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, Germany is facing an energy conundrum.

In 2022, Germany will shutter its last nuclear power plant, which has the capacity to generate over 10.7 billion kilowatt hours of power per year. How will Germany replace this zero-carbon emission power supply?

 The mostly power source to replace Germany’s last nuclear power plant will almost certainly be fossil fuels, specifically natural gas. Germany’s support for the development of Gazprom’s massive Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline is compelling evidence for this premise.

It would appear that Germany is indeed faced with an energy conundrum.

Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”

www.jackkerfoot.com

 

[1] Germany Population (2021) –  July 17, 2021, www.worldometers.info

[2] Germany – The World Bank Group

[3] Gross Domestic Product 2019 – World Bank DataBank

[4] The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) – Germany

[5] Carbon Brief – “2015: Tracking Country Climate Pledges”

[6] Clean Energy Wire – Germany’s Energy Consumption & Power by K. Appunn, Y. Haas, & J. Wettengel, 12 December 2020

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