Renewable power crosses the 20% mark in Germany for the first time | The American Ceramic Society

Renewable power crosses the 20% mark in Germany for the first time

Solar power in Germany jumped 76 percent in first six months of 2011. Credit: NREL.

According to the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW), renewable energy grew—in the first half of 2011, alone—from 18.3 percent of total demand in 2010 to 20.8 percent. That’s a significant jump and achievement.

What makes it even more remarkable is that, for sheer timing reasons, it cannot be connected to Germany’s post-Fukushima policy decision to shut down its nuclear power facilities. Indeed, as Spiegel Online International reports, “[the increase] does give a boost to Germany’s long-term effort to phase out nuclear power completely by 2022.” Spiegel speculates that trend will give Chancellor Angela Merkel new political capital to offset dissension about the elimination of in-country nuclear power sources.

I don’t have access to an English version of the BDEW report, but Spiegel says the group attributes most of the change to photovoltaic installations. PV power now ranks third in the list of renewable sources (in terms of kilowatt-hours consumed), knocking wind power to fourth place.

Why the surge in the recent months? BDEW, according to news reports, cites two major factors: 1) a big drop in PV equipment prices (50 percent since 2006) and 2) continuation of federal subsidies for private PV generation (which had been targeted for elimination).