Berlin, Germany — ESI-AFRICA-COM — 29 March 2011 – As the nuclear reactor crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan continues to dominate the world’s attention, Germany has quietly broken more renewable energy records.
The conservative government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, struggling to stay ahead of public attitudes toward nuclear power in the run-up to regional elections, has issued its annual report on the contribution of renewable energy to the German energy market in 2010, reports
Wind turbines, hydro-electric plants, solar cells, and bio-gas digesters now provide nearly 17% of Germany’s electricity.
Meanwhile, the German network agency (Bundesnetzagentur) has issued its final update on the installation of solar photo-voltaics (solar PV) in 2010.
The results are nothing short of startling and will add fuel to the heated debate about how countries such as Japan can meet their electricity needs without reliance on nuclear power.
In the immediate aftermath of the Japanese nuclear accident, Germany’s Merkel closed two reactors permanently, and another five temporarily. She also called on her government to revisit its controversial decision to extend the life of its aging reactors. The reactors at Fukushima Daiichi are 40 years old and their license to operate had been extended by the Japanese government.
The reports on the rapid growth of renewable energy in Germany may give Merkel’s government the cover it needs to reverse direction on nuclear power, and by doing so reverse its faltering political fortunes.
Germany uses an advanced system of feed-in tariffs to pay for renewable energy generation, and has an aggressive target of meeting 39% of its electricity supply with renewable energy by 2020. Its system of advanced renewable tariffs has enabled Germany to exceed its 2010 target of 12.5% by a wide margin.
The German Ministry for the Environment and Reactor Safety reports that in 2010 renewable energy generated more than 100TWh (billion kilowatt-hours) of electricity, providing nearly 17% of the 600TWh of supply. Renewables generated more electricity in Germany than gas-fired power plants “’ nearly as much as hard coal “’ and are fast approaching the contribution of nuclear power.
With the Japanese nuclear calamity fresh in everyone’s mind and upcoming elections staring the government in the face, the success of Germany’s rapid development of renewable energy may give Chancellor Merkel’s conservative government the flexibility it needs to weather the nuclear crisis, said renewableenergyworld.com. It would not be surprising to find the government proposing an even more aggressive pace of renewable energy development than that seen in 2010, it added.