Germany Can Achieve 100% Renewable Electricity Supply by 2050

Sep 8, 2010
Jochen Flasbarth, President of Germany’s Federal Environment Agency Enlarge image Jochen Flasbarth, President of Germany’s Federal Environment Agency (© German Embassy)

During a recent visit to Washington D.C., Jochen Flasbarth, President of Germany’s Federal Environment Agency (UBA), suggested that Germany can achieve the ambitious energy goal of 100 percent renewable electricity by 2050, using technology that’s already available.

Presenting a new study published by his agency at the World Resources Institute on Wednesday, September 8, an event organized in cooperation with the German Embassy, Flasbarth explained that this goal is achievable if all regions in Germany would fully tap their potential to use renewable energy.

Introducing Mr. Flasbarth on Wednesday, Jonathan Lash, President of the World Resources Institute, suggested that if any country could achieve this goal, it would be Germany, given its “conscious policy over several years that has promoted renewables and efficiency.”

Jonathan Lash, President of the World Resources Institute Enlarge image Jonathan Lash, President of the World Resources Institute (© German Embassy)  

Germany’s “rapid growth of renewables is certainly not due to any natural advantages” he said, given it has less average sunshine than any place in the U.S. apart from Alaska.

Germany’s electricity supply is currently responsible for about 40 percent of energy-related CO2 emissions. The UBA study predicts that if 100% of its electricity came from renewables, neither Germany's status as a highly industrialized country, nor its way of life or consumption levels, would be compromised.

In addition, any fluctuations in energy supply could be safely compensated and only a very small share of electricity would need to be imported from neighboring countries.

To achieve the goal of 100 percent renewable electricity by 2050, energy would be sourced from Germany’s supplies of solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and, to a limited extent, hydropower. This would build on the current share of renewable energies in Germany’s electricity consumption, which has already increased in the past 15 years from less than 5 percent to 16 percent in 2009.

Jochen Flasbarth said the study, as all UBA strategies, is “linked to the need to deal with climate change.” The organization’s aim is a “carbon-neutral society” and to achieve this, “the energy sector is key,” he said.

However, this study is merely a feasability study showing that it would be possible, and does not include a cost analysis.  
Jochen Flasbarth on a panel with Chris Flavin (President, Worldwatch Institute) and Ana Unruh Cohen (Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming) Enlarge image Jochen Flasbarth on a panel with Chris Flavin (President, Worldwatch Institute) and Ana Unruh Cohen (Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming) (© German Embassy)
Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday presented the federal government’s new Nine-Point Plan for Germany’s energy supply over the next 40 years in which renewable energies are to play an increasing role. According to the plan, the share of renewable energies in gross electricity consumption should total 35 percent by 2020.  By 2030, it will climb to 50 percent; by 2040, to 65 percent; by 2050, to 80 percent. Major investments, funded by the sale CO2 emissions  certificates, are also to be made in research and development of renewables.

© German Embassy

100% Renewable Electricity

Photovoltaic cells in a solar park, © BMU / Bernd Müller

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