Germany is the world’s fourth-largest economy and nearly a third of its electric power comes from renewable energy. That fraction is increasing… Indeed it is now thought that Germany is an ideal global test bed for the feasibility of using renewable energy on a large scale.
Let’s look at other countries that generate a large amount of renewable energy. We have Brazil which has moved away from polluting fossil fuels and now generates a staggering 80% of its electric power from renewables. But the secret here is sugarcane ethanol- not something in abundant supply in Germany!
Canada is blessed with superb white water resources and so 60% of its electricity is generated by hydropower. Again, Germany doesn’t have such a resource. Interestingly, Germany is a world leader in hydro technology and the construction of hydroelectric plants, yet gets very little of its electricity from this source. So without sugarcane and white water Germany made the decision some time ago to generate its electricity from wind and sun. And it is now a showcase country for green renewable energy production.
The United States might have been a little slower to embrace wind and solar power, but seems to be concentrating more now on fracking- the system of extracting natural gas from the rocks by means of high power steam and chemicals. But this is still a relatively new method of obtaining gas, and is the subject of controversy and opposition in the United Kingdom and Germany. There are even moves in Germany to ban fracking outright.
Indeed Germany’s embrace of wind power is a god example of how the world at large can benefit. Germany created a huge demand for wind turbines and solar panels, and this has brought in Chinese manufacturers keen to get in on the act. This has had the effect of driving down costs and encouraging technical innovation around wind turbine technology and electricity storage.
We predict that if the markets are left to sort things out for themselves without political intervention and interference, it is likely that the U.S. and other countries will inevitably move in Germany’s direction, as renewable energy becomes more cost-competitive. And that’s good news for the well-being of the planet!