NewEnergyNews: GERMANY SHOWS WHAT NEW ENERGY CAN DO

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    Friday, November 02, 2012

    GERMANY SHOWS WHAT NEW ENERGY CAN DO

    German official says expansion of renewable energy production outpacing forecasts

    Juergen Baetz, October 29, 2012 (Associated Press)

    “The production of renewable energies in Germany is expected to grow faster than the government’s forecast and account for almost half of the country’s electricity within a decade…The current boom in new installations of wind, solar and other renewable power sources will easily top the official target of 35 percent by 2022, reaching about 48 percent by then, said Stephan Kohler, who heads the government-affiliated agency overseeing Germany’s electricity grid.

    “…[M]ore and swifter investment is needed to upgrade the electricity grid to cope with the influx of unstable and geographically dispersed renewable energies…One of Germany’s challenges in ensuring a steady supply of electricity to the world’s fourth-largest economy is that it derives most of its wind power from the country’s north, but demand is highest in the strongly industrialized south…To cope with that challenge, the agency estimates that Germany needs to build another 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) of high voltage lines — at an estimated cost of some €20 billion ($26 billion).”

    “Germany decided after Japan’s 2011 nuclear disaster to speed up phasing out nuclear power, which then accounted for just under a quarter of the country’s electricity production, about the same share as in Japan and the U.S…Renewable energies’ share has since risen from 17 percent to 25 percent, driven by subsidies and investment incentives that are mostly paid for by a tax on households’ electricity bills. By 2050 Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, wants to generate 80 percent of its electricity from renewable sources…

    “Even to meet the 50 percent target, Kohler stressed that Germany needs to build more conventional power plants — for example, gas-fired plants — over the next decade to ensure backups are in place to provide a steady stream of power when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine…He said he was confident there would be no major problems with the grid’s stability over the next three years, but added there is a risk of blackouts in southern Germany once another nuclear power plant will be shut there in 2015 because grid changes will just be under way and the region lacks the conventional power plants needed…To address that shortfall, he urged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to do more to coordinate energy policy with other EU countries because electricity is traded freely across borders…”

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