Wind Energy

German Renewables Sector Overheating

merkel wind-Imago
Some winds are blowing against Chancellor Merkel's plans to rapidly expand renewable energy.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The faster-than-expected expansion of renewable energy in Germany has sparked fears that the resulting costs to consumers will rise too fast, and that the construction of modern power lines can’t keep pace.

  • Facts


    • The government expects that it will reach its goal of 40 percent renewable energy generation in 2020 — five years ahead of schedule.
    • Conservative lawmaker Michael Fuchs told Handelsblatt that the expansion could increase subsidy costs for renewable energy to €30 billion per year in 2018 from €25.7 billion.
    • German energy reform think-tank Agora has proposed that Germany phases out all coal-fired power generation by 2040.
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Robert Habeck is a big fan of renewable energy. The energy minister of the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein has a vision of a land crowded with wind turbines. By 2025, he wants his state to produce three times more power from renewable sources than it consumes, putting it at the forefront of Germany’s drive to expand renewable energy.

It’s not an unrealistic plan by the Green party politician, who wants to become his party’s leading candidate in the 2017 general election. The expansion of power generation from wind, sun and biomass is advancing so rapidly across Germany that the Federal Economics Ministry is forecasting that renewable energy will reach a share of around 40 percent of total power generation as soon as 2020.

That’s according to a letter by the ministry to lawmakers from the ruling conservatives in the German lower house of parliament, or Bundestag. It means Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is well ahead of schedule in its energy transition, known as the “Energiewende,” launched in 2011 — a bold plan to phase out nuclear power by 2022 and wean Europe’s largest economy off fossil fuels by 2050.

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