Renewables Update

Summary of original speech
Latest developments in Germany's - ongoing - Energiewende

14 March 2014 Stefanie Pfahl, Head of Wind Energy and Hydro Power Division
Federal Ministry for the Environment
Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear

In Germany, The first Renewable Energy Sources Act (RESA) was adopted in 2000. At that time the share of renewables in electricity production was almost non-existent.

Within 14 years renewables (wind, pv, biomass, hydro power, some geothermal) were contributing around 25 percent to gross electricity consumption. Our target is an 80 percent share by 2050.

This target stems not only from phasing out nuclear energy but is linked to our goal of reducing CO2 emissions considerably for climate protection reasons.

By the end of 2012 Germany had the following installed capacity from
renewable sources:
33,000 MW Photovoltaics
31,000 MW onshore wind
7,500 MW biomass
5,600 MW hydropower
435 MW offshore wind
12 MW geothermal power

These installations produced 143 TWh of electricity,equivalent to the electricity generated by 13 nuclear power plants. Of the 17 nuclear power plants formerly in operation in Germany, 8 have now been taken from the grid - representing a capacity of around 9,000MW. The remaining 9 nuclear power plants produce a gross electricity volume of around 97 TWh.

The next two nuclear power plants will be decommissioned in 2015
(Grafenrheinfeld) and 2017 (Gundremmingen B). Germany's last nuclear
power plant will be shut down in 2022. With respect to the critics of the Energiewende I want to stress here very strongly that at no point has supply security been compromised. There have not been any black outs nor is there ground to suspect that we have a shortage in energy supply.
What we see however is, that grid operators have to focus more on grid
management and short term supply and demand forecasts in order to run the system. Over the past 14 years, the total cost of supporting renewable electricity
grew up to 24 billion euros per year. Here I must point out that the Energiewende was accelerated in the wake of the accident at Fukushima:
this has meant stepping up our renewable energy expansion, leading to a significant increase in costs. At present, the cost of renewable energy support for an average household is around 18 euros per month.

Speaking of costs –
which are also a major point of critique in the context of the German transformation strategy – I do not want to deny, that now with a share of around 25 percent renewables in gross electricity consumption is the time to carefully review the system in order to improve cost efficiency.

But I would also like to stress that the renewable support system based on feed-in tariffs was very successful. Not only in expanding renewables and bringing them to the point where they are now, but it also in developing the industries and employment and thus contributing substantially to domestic value creation. Especially in the wind sector it helped creating successful export markets.

And last but not least, many electricity consumers who are renewable electricity producers at same time (farmers, members of community power associations, private actors, SMEs) benefited from the revenues guaranteed by the feed-in tariff. Thus, there are not only costs, but also benefits to the economy and the people!