The German Renewable Energy Federation (known as the “Bundesverband Erneuerbare Energie” or BEE in Germany) has good news and bad news. The good news? From January to June, the country produced a record 35 percent of its electricity from renewable energy.
Comparatively, the US produced 19.35 percent of its electricity from renewable sources like wind, solar, and conventional hydroelectric power in the first quarter of 2017 (defined as year-to-date to April 2017).
For Germany, the bad news is that the numbers don’t look so good for German renewable energy when it comes to the heating and transportation sectors. These are two difficult sectors to wean off fossil fuels as electric vehicles (EVs) still rely on government incentives to be an economical choice for most people. In fact, the percentage of Germany’s transportation sector (PDF) that has moved away from fossil fuels has declined—from 5.7 percent in the first half of 2015 to 5.1 percent in the first half of 2017.
Overall, 15.2 percent of Germany’s whole economy has divested from non-renewable sources of energy in the first half of 2017, up just 0.4 percent from the half-year prior. Despite the considerable gains in the electrical sector, the BEE wrote that it’s disappointed in the progress. “On the way to decarbonization, 85 percent are still ahead of us,” a report from the federation noted. "The small increase in the share of renewable energies in final energy consumption is reinforcing the skeptical forecast of the BEE for 2020… Under the current conditions, Germany will clearly miss the mandatory EU target of 18 percent renewable energies in the gross final energy consumption in 2020.”
The task is made more challenging by the fact that Germany is undergoing another, concurrent change in its grid makeup—the country has pledged to phase out its reliance on nuclear power by 2022. Although not a renewable source of power, nuclear energy is free of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. It's not free of controversies over safety, efficiency, and waste management, however.
Still, Germany is making up the ground it’s losing in heating and transportation in electricity production. Reuters noted that the country “has been getting up to 85 percent of its electricity from renewable sources on certain sunny, windy days this year.”
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