Germany’s renewable share for the first half of 2012 has recently been released, and guess what, they’re thrashing the majority of EU nations comfortably, reaching 26% overall, a staggering increase from 20.5% during the same period last year. That means that over a quarter of the energy filling the German grid was produced purely by renewable means, and that is something they should be seriously proud of, and rubbing in our faces, as I’ll explain below.
What is even more interesting about this event, is the specific mix of renewables used in accomplishing this task. Wind sits in gold medal position with 9.2%, with biomass (surprisingly) taking second with 5.7%, whilst solar PV follows closely behind with 5.3%, expanding by over 40% in comparison to last year. That alone is an impressive stat to contend with, and was no doubt bolstered by Germany’s generous FiT, which although was recently slashed to save on funding, has been highly successful in generating consumer interest in solar as a viable energy alternative.
Hydropower boosted 25%, up to 4% in the overall mix, with all other renewables completing the lineup.
It’s no surprise that wind energy takes pole on the list given how perfectly flat, large and windy Germany as a landscape is, and their heavy involvement with the cheapest of all renewable technologies. Many have attributed the extra-impressive results to the weather this region of Europe has been experiencing over the past 6 months, with abnormally high winds spinning up the turbines country-wide, torrential rains over-powering the hydroelectric dams, and in the later parts of the year, intense solar radiations and clear skies bathing the abundant solar panels in beaming energy.
Then again, attempting to diminish the feats achieved by the German renewable grid by stating it ‘was the weather which made it so damn good’ is a tad cheeky, considering the very point of many clean energy sources is that the sun and weather itself drives the production. If we have optimal weather, then they’re working exactly as planned.
What was surprising is the biomass share, which was much more than I thought had been invested in, with this form of energy generally not so high on a country’s energy list. I’m assuming that good recycling programs and clever biomass burning policies mean that Germany’s energy production is relatively high here, although actual year-on-year growth has been the smallest in this sector, just 7.5%.