On Sunday, May 15, 2016, in Germany at around 2p.m. (local time); renewables were supplying 45.5 gigawatts electricity and the demand was 45.8 gigawatts! Germany is determined and pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80-85% percent by 2050 from 1990 levels, has assertively inched towards its commitments to 100% renewable energy by 2050. The unique thing happened on this historical Sunday – Power prices in Germany actually went negative for few hours, in simple words “commercial customers were being paid to consume electricity”.
Among the developed industrial nations Germany has become a world leader in the pioneering energy revolution. After the disastrous meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, the then Chancellor Angela Merkel declared “Germany will shut down all 17 of its own nuclear reactors by the year 2022”. The country is marching towards its decision and as of date, nine of them are already switched off. This type of initiatives and achievements will not only reduce Germany’s carbon footprint but will also help Europe substantially to curb Greenhouse emissions.
German: Energiewende, as it’s called means – a sustainable energy transition, is the shift from nuclear and fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy. Merkel’s and the whole country’s unprecedented determined shift to clean energy has reduced the operating profit margins at coal and gas plants. Other countries in Europe have also shown keen interest and are increasing the renewable capacities, in order to reduce emissions and meet Paris commitments. This does not mean Germany can put off all its coal ignited power generation stations, as for such an industrialized nation always a backup system is required, especially on days when the wind or solar drops. Germany has a very strong electricity export capability with adequate infrastructure. It’s worth to mention here, on the historic Sunday, May 15, 2016, conventional power plants were still supplying 7.7 gigawatts and was being exported to neighboring countries. German Advisory Council on the Environment says “the conversion of the electricity supply system towards the use of 100% renewable energies by 2050 is possible; these technologies include renewable energy such as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal energy”.
But in this kind of the country’s success in inching towards Green Energy is due to awareness from grass root level. In the seventies, Germans were blamed for destroying their forests due to acid rains, only because of fossil fuel emissions. The serious threat of waldsterben, or forest death, which is their national treasure; made them think harder. Individual citizens and local citizens associations are making a lot of investment in renewables. Nearly 2% of the German population is selling the electricity to the main grid as of now. What is astonishing is “a country which was bombed out – had become wasteland has today set an ideal example in front of the world “how determination from within and from the bottom most level of the society can make a turnaround”.
*All images are copyright to their respective owners