Germany Will Seek 100% of its Electricity from Renewables by 2050

Germany, which generates 16% of its power from renewable sources such as hydro-electric, wind and solar, now plans to get 100% of its electricity from renewables by 2050. It is an audacious plan, but German economists maintain it will actually improve the German economy and forestall the dislocations of the global warming that will otherwise occur.

Wind turbines alone are expected to generate 25 percent of the electricity in the European Union of 27 states by the year 2030.

By hooking a network of wind turbines into a common grid, some of the big problems with wind power, especially intermittency or the failure of the wind to blow all the time, can be overcome (with a networked grid, active wind farms can take up the slack for ones where the breeze has temporarily died down).

A plus: Germany’s offshore energy platforms don’t leak petroleum:

8 Responses

  1. Dear Professor Cole

    I suspect it is important not to leave out mention of the Desertec project.

    link to desertec.org

    It is a European Scale project and involves integrating North Africa with Europe and providing alternative sources of supply to balance the higs and lows of sources.

    The technology and economics were analysed by Deutsche Aerospace whose documentation is worth reading.

    link to dlr.de

    This project holds considerable promise for the integration of EU and North Africa/ Middle East.

  2. In some parts of the world like the North Sea and Baltic people live sufficiently close to the wind that losses due to transmission are low enough to make it worth the effort. It is not clear that in the US same circumstances exist.

    I also wonder how effective future wind projects will be as prime locations are exhausted and wind turbines are located in locations with less potential. I suspect they are looking at current projects and assuming that future projects will achieve the same success.

    As the number of wind power projects grows I suspect that people will begin to notice the negative aspects of these projects and fall out of love with large scale wind power as they have with all other energy sources.

  3. Bill Moomaw of Tufts and a member of the IPCC spoke at the Boston Area Solar Energy Association last September and said that Germany had completed a year-long project to run one part of its grid only on renewables very successfully. I emailed him for further information but never heard back.

    Both Germany and Spain are running a significant portion of their electricity with wind turbines today. In some areas, up to 75% of the electricity is generated by wind.

  4. The world will need double the amount of energy it consumes today by 2050. There is only one answer: The Nanotech Energy Initiative proposed by the late Professor Richard Smalley.

    Google it.

    He makes it clear in his talks that the only viable source of the energy we need is solar energy captured in space and downloaded, then distributed via nanotech-enabled cabling and nanotech-enabled efficient batteries. And this solution could be financed by merely enabling a ten cent tax per gallon of purchased gasoline.

  5. I love Desertec because it enabled me to write my all-time favorite e-mail title about the German project to generate electricity in North Africa – “Afrika Korps II: Electric Boogaloo.”

    But I also admire it because it’s the kind of big project we Americans used to carry out and no longer seem able to manage. Look at the problems with the Big Dig. Or our refusal in the late ’90s to budget $50 billion to restore southern Louisiana’s waterways and wetlands to a natural state to avoid a future disaster like Katrina – which I understand caused many times more expense.

    The catch – Germany has a 50-cent per kilowatt-hour tariff on renewable electricity. So presumably the Desertec partners were expecting to get that ridiculous bounty by running power lines all the way from North Africa. It sounds like the commitment to such subsidies will be strangled by “austerity”.

    They need to think big. The US has manipulated politics and pipelines across Central Asia in a desperate attempt to keep Europe from buying gas & oil from Russia because, we claim the Euros will sell out their democracy to the Russian Satan. But if Europe can build Desertec, then it won’t need gas from Russia or Iran, and how could America object?

    Unless, of course, what we really want is to keep Europe from becoming too independent of us. If such a system is built, the meaning of all sorts of relationships change. North Africa is no longer another place where undeserving Arabs and others squat on “our” oil – these solar collectors will require labor and trained technicians. That damages both Israel’s narrative of Arab inferiority and its claim that its alliance with America helps ensure our energy security (!) by keeping Arabs and Iranians in line. Because Europe will be the place where electric cars will prove most useful and economically attractive due to $7/gallon gas, the entire role of oil in justifying the Anglo-American power structure might be threatened by a flood of cheap solar electricity.

    No one has had an entity that economically integrated both sides of the Mediterranean since Rome/Byzantium. By the dogmas of the Project for a New American Century, Europe would become a threat to America. I welcome it – our greed and shortsightedness has already ensured China’s rise to a share of global power and its people sacrificed greatly to bring it about. Rather than try to pull it down, as many Americans seem to desire, how about we pull up democratic Europe as a counterbalance before we become too weak to pick winners?

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