Germany, Denmark and the US are clean energy leaders that are proving that renewables can meet the electricity needs of modern nations. In Germany and Denmark they are producing so much power from renewables that they are exporting clean energy. In the US renewables continue to grow accounting for the vast majority of new energy production in the first half of 2015.
Germany is both a clean energy and an economic leader that broke a number of records in 2014. For a period in May of last year renewable energy supplied almost three quarters of the nation’s overall electricity needs. In the first quarter of 2014 more than one quarter (27%) of Germany’s electricity demand was being met by renewables. In 2014 Germany increased its renewable energy generation by 5 billion kilowatt hours compared to the same period in 2013 (40.2 billion vs 35.7 billion kilowatt-hours).
Renewable energy generated 32.5 percent of Germany’s electricity in the first half of 2015. Most of the increased capacity came from new wind generation.
That is an increase in overall renewable energy electricity production compared to the same January to June period last year.
Germany has been an energy exporter since 2003. Its principal customer has been the Netherlands, followed by Austria, Switzerland, and Poland. Germany has set exporting records in 2012, 2013 and 2014. It exported 18 TWh during the first half of 2014, as compared to 14.5 TWh during the same period in 2013.
As part of its Energiewende (energy transformation) program Germany seeks to be almost entirely powered by renewable sources by 2050. Although there are some concerns about Germany’s ability to meet its 2020 European target.
At the end of last summer Denmark has passed a world leading climate change bill. In July Denmark’s windfarms produced more energy than the nation could use. In addition to meeting their own domestic electricity demand they export additional supply to Norway, Germany and Sweden. After producing 16 percent more power than they needed on Thursday July 9th, they produced 40 percent more power than the country needed on Friday July 10th as demand dropped in the early morning hours.
These peaks were not close to Denmark’s 4.8GW capacity and more capacity will be coming online soon with an additional 1.5GW coming from new offshore windfarms. Overall, thanks to strong government support, there has been an 18 percent year over year growth in wind energy in Denmark.
Denmark could be producing half of its electricity from renewable sources well before a target date of 2020.
The US also posted a milestone of its own between January and June 2015. Renewable energy which includes wind, solar, hydro, geothermal and bioimass, was responsible for almost 70 percent of the new electrical generation in the first half of 2015.
As reviewed in the July “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) office of energy projects, in the first half of 2015 there was an additional 1,996 MW of new wind generating capacity, 549 MW of solar, 45 MW of geothermal and 21 MW of hydro.
New capacity from renewables in the first half of 2015 is 904 times greater than that from coal and more than double natural gas. In June alone wind contributed 320 MW, biomass 95 MW and solar 62 MW.
As a whole renewable energy now accounts for more than 17 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the US (hydro 8.61%, wind 5.84%, biomass 1.40%, solar 1.08% and geothermal 0.34%). Renewable energy now generates more power than nuclear (9.20%) and oil (3.87%) combined.
The growth of renewables is lending credence to those who believe we can get all (or most) of our energy from clean sources.
As explained by Oliver Joy, a spokesman for trade body the European Wind Energy Association,
“It shows that a world powered 100% by renewable energy is no fantasy.”
Moving Towards 100% Renewables in the US
Germany’s Renewable Energy Leadership
Europe Moving Towards 100 percent Renewable Energy
Growth of Renewable Energy in 2015 and Beyond
One of the Best Years Ever for Renewable Energy in 2014
2014 Year End Review: Renewable Energy Achievements
Renewable Energy in Africa and the Middle East
The ABCs of Latin American Renewable Energy (Argentina, Brazil and Costa Rica)
Asian Renewable Energy (China, India Japan, South Korea)
Australia Can Go 100% Renewable Due to Falling Costs
Canada Could Get All of Its Electricity from Renewables
Renewable Energy Case Studies: Burlington Vermont and Argentina