The Problem with Renewables and Germany’s Energiewende

July 26, 2017

Posted: February 9, 2017, 6:22pm

A year ago, renewable sources except for large hydropower plants contributed to one tenth of the worldwide power generation. Renewables do not come without problems and they need to be very efficient to be able to help constrain global warming.

Even though most of the governments have provided subsidies, renewables are still costly. For instance, a large wind farm would be in sites far away from the cities and the electricity generated by them would have to be connected to the electricity grid, which would then need to be widened and this would add to the cost. Also, it has an intermittent production of power since the wind required for it does not blow all the time. To also utilize solar power plants to the fullest, the sun needs to shine all the time but this is not possible. Thus, traditional power plants need to be working to provide the electricity when the demand is high and cannot be met by only renewables. This would again lead to increased carbon emissions.

Germany’s carbon emissions have been rising despite their increased use of renewables like wind and solar power. Germany is the fourth largest economy in the world and they installed many wind and solar plants to reduce carbon emissions but the emissions rose in 2015 instead of declining. This happened because Germany kept the power plants that burnt coal running and thus produced more electricity than required. However, to address this issue the government is changing its energy strategy called Energiewende. Its goal was to cut down the carbon emissions by 40 percent compared to the 1990 levels, by 2020. Many aspects of Energiewende have been successful like renewables supplying one-third of the consumed electricity in 2015, Germany becoming the world’s largest solar power market and carbon emissions going 27 percent below the 1990 levels in 2014. The government is going to set a capacity level to build renewable power plants and power industries will bid on building these projects. This will help avoid building new renewable plants and will eliminate the chances of generating excess power. This is needed because the coal plants cannot be shut down that easily as they are very profitable and thus would involve several political issues. Also, these plants meet the demand when renewable sources are low in power production due to unseen weather conditions.

Going green and meeting majority of the energy demands by using renewables sources of energy is not as easy as it sounds. Renewables are expensive and a lot of changes need to be made to the existing energy production markets to be able to adapt to these renewable sources.


Published on July 26th, 2017

Last updated on August 10th, 2017