Germany is a world leader in renewable energy, with approximately a quarter of their energy being produced from renewable sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, or biomass. As part of the “energiewende” (energy transformation) campaign, the country hopes to phase out nuclear energy, cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels, and rely more on renewables by 2022.
Thomas Grigolei, director of renewable energies at Germany Trade and Invest, said Energiewende has been very successful and will continue to make Germany stronger. In fact, more than 10,000 people have already invested in renewable energy systems in Germany and solar grid parity (or when electricity from solar power is as cheap as conventional power) has already been reached. German solar energy is predicted to become so competitive that a solar market is expected to develop independently of government incentive.
However, according to Peter Jahr, a German representative from the European Parliament, “there’s a bad side to every good story.” Mr. Jahr recently spoke to a small audience at the University of Northern Iowa, where he urged Iowans to use caution when choosing renewables because they may be more costly than desired. In Germany, renewables are producing more energy than their grid can handle, resulting in the need to pay others to take some of the excess.
Mr. Grigolei says the focus of Energiewende over the past decade has been on the generation side and the increase in production, but is now becoming much more focused on integrating these “massive renewable capacities” efficiently into their system.