With a single glance, small changes often go unnoticed. Over a long period of time, however, many small changes can add up to make an enormous difference.
Using the Fraunhofer ISE Energy Charts, we decreased the zoom factor and thus were able to compare the net electricity generation of the past ten years, from 2009 to 2018. Some amazing findings were the result [See screencast at end of this post]:
- In the past ten years, the net electricity production from renewable energy sources has more than doubled from 18.5 to 40 percent.
- The same is valid for wind energy production: The share of wind rose from 8 percent in 2009 to 20 percent in 2018. Today wind is Germany’s primary source of renewable energy. (In 2002 the share from wind was only 2.2 percent.)
- Solar energy also experienced significant growth, increasing from 1 to 8.4 percent in ten years. Although this in itself is a success, the German energy system would greatly profit if the share of solar in the net electricity production were greater. This was demonstrated, for example, in the extremely hot, record-breaking summer of 2018. In summer 2018, the share of renewable energy was well below the annual average, since there was little wind. In addition, conventional power plants could not be sufficiently cooled due to the high river temperatures, and the low water levels in the rivers led to transport bottlenecks for hard coal. Under these conditions, solar energy would serve as an optimal energy source. The solar capacity presently installed in Germany, however, is still too small to adequately compensate for the plant outages from other energy sources, even under optimal weather conditions for solar as in summer 2018.
- From 2009 to 2015, the electricity production from natural gas decreased by half from 11 to 5.5 percent. Since 2016, the percentage from natural gas has stabilized to ca. 8 percent.
- The rise in renewable energy sources has compensated for the total decrease in nuclear energy over the past ten years. The share of nuclear energy in Germany’s net electricity production fell from a share of 25 to 13.3 percent. (In 2002 the nuclear share was still 30.9 percent.)
- Brown coal, the dirtiest energy source, is still holding strong, and the low prices of CO2 certificates are the main reason. Due to the low production costs, the export surpluses increased from 12 TWh in 2009 to 50 TWh in 2017 and 2018.
- The share of net electricity production from hard coal decreased from 18 to 13.4 percent. Hard coal could not compete with brown coal, although it produces less emissions and can be controlled more rapidly, which makes it a better supplemental energy source to renewables than brown coal.