Germany: Renewables overtake coal as main power source


An article from Deutsche Welle (reprinted by permission)

Renewable energy became Germany’s dominant source of electricity in 2018, beating coal  for the first time in history, experts from the Germany-based Fraunhofer Institute said on Thursday.

“Green” energy sources  such as solar, wind, and hydropower accounted for 40.3 percent of German net electricity production last year, rising by 4.3 percent compared to 2017. Experts said coal-fired power plants supplied about 38 percent of electricity in 2018.

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Question for this article:

Are we making progress in renewable energy?

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Germany has set  ambitious energy targets  for the upcoming decade, aiming to have renewable sources provide 65 percent of energy by 2030. The percentage had grown from 8.5 in 2003 to 16.2 in 2008 and 27.2 another five years later.

Even with the 2018 landmark, the change is “not happening quickly enough,” Fraunhofer Institute professor Bruno Burger told Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine.

“If Germany continues at this rate, we are going to miss our 2030 targets,” he said.

More sun, less water

Nuclear energy accounted for around 13.3 percent of electricity in 2018. However, the country is committed to shuttering its nuclear power plants by 2022.

Climate change seemed to have a positive effect in 2018. A dry and hot summer meant solar power provided 16 percent more energy than the previous year, but it also shrunk the output by hydropower plants, according to the Reuters news agency.

The German government’s coal commission is set to present its plan for finally phasing out coal  in early February.

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