Germany has a target of reaching 65 per cent renewable energy for its electricity network by 2040, but it is already capable of reaching such levels for shorter periods of time, as illustrated last week.
For “week 10” of 2019, the week finishing on March 10 (Sunday), Germany sourced 64.8 per cent of its electricity generation from renewables.
As this graph below illustrates, the bulk came from wind (48.4 per cent), with solar contributing 5.1 per cent, biomass 7.6 per cent and hydro 3.5 per cent.
Throw in nuclear, and the share of zero emissions electricity sources reached 77.7 per cent for the whole week, in the biggest economy in Europe and one of the biggest in the world.
Germany leads the world in the transition to renewables, although it faces stiff competition from the likes of Denmark, California, Hawaii, and the state of South Australia.
What makes germany exceptional, however, is the sheer size of its grid, its dependence on an industrial economy, and its comparatively lousy wind and solar resources, which are vastly inferior to South Australia, for instance.
This graph below illustrates the past week in a different perspective. It is interesting to note that the amount of wind power generated throughout the week at no time dipped below the maximum output of either nuclear of brown coal..
Black coal is used hardly at all, and has to flex to respond to changing outputs of wind and solar and consumer and industrial demand.
Germany's main challenge will be replacing those solid red and brown lines at the bottom of the chart. Nuclear (in red) is due to be phased out by 2022, while all parties have now agreed that brown coal (in brown) will be phased out by 2038.
Some want this to occur much earlier given its high emissions, but in Germany it remains the cheapest form of energy (excluding the impact of those emissions).
Germany has a 35 per cent renewable energy target for 2020 but has already exceeded that. In 2018, it generated 40 per cent from renewables and so far this year it has sourced 43 per cent of its gross electricity production from renewables.
Giles Parkinson is founder and editor of Renew Economy
, and is also the founder of One Step Off The Grid
and founder/editor of The Driven
. Giles has been a journalist for 35 years and is a former business and deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review.