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Electricity from the wind and sun

The development of renewable energy, along with energy ef ciency, is a pillar of the Energiewende. Wind, the sun, hydropower, biomass and geothermal energy are climate-friendly and local sources of energy that make Germany less dependent on fossil fuels and play a key role in climate protection.

Renewables are the most important source of energy in the electricity mix

Share of renewables in gross electricity consumption

Wind supplies the most electricity from renewable sources

Share of total renewables generation in 2014

The use of renewables is most advanced in the electricity sector. Since 2014, they have been the most important source of energy in Germany’s electricity mix, supplying almost a third of the power consumed in the country. Ten years earlier, they met only nine percent of demand. Targeted funding is the reason for this success. It began in 1991 with the Electricity Grid Feed Act, which introduced fixed feed-in tariffs and compulsory purchasing with the aim of opening the market to new technologies. This was followed by the Renewable Energy Sources Act in 2000. It has three key components: guaranteed feed-in tariffs for various technologies; priority grid feed-in; and a surcharge system that shares the resulting additional costs among all electricity consumers.

Since the Renewable Energy Sources Act entered into force, annual investments in new wind farms and PV plants in particular, but also in wood-fired and biogas plants, have risen continually. The high demand resulted in the creation of a new sector, with over 370,000 jobs in Germany alone. It also boosted the efficient mass production of renewable energy technologies, thus leading to substantial price drops worldwide. For example, a solar module cost 75 percent less in 2014 than it did five years earlier. A kilowatt-hour of solar electricity received the equivalent of 50 eurocents in funding in Germany in 2000. By mid-2015, this support had fallen to less than nine eurocents. Despite the moderate amount of sunshine in central Europe, solar energy has become an important source of electricity in Germany. PV systems now provide over 20 percent of the electricity from renewable energies.

Renewables enhance energy generation and climate protection

Benchmarks for 2014

Wind power is currently the most important renewable source of electricity. Electricity supplied by onshore wind turbines now costs only between 5.5 and 8.9 eurocents per kilowatt-hour on average.
The challenge for Germany is to steer the expansion of wind and solar energy so that these sources remain affordable and increase security of supply. This is why the German Government restructured renewable energy funding in the electricity sector in the summer of 2014. The amendment put an end to overfunding, thus resolving the issue of rising costs. Annual expansion corridors for the individual technologies make it easier to plan and steer the development of renewable sources. This expansion focuses on the inexpensive technologies of wind and solar energy. Operators of renewable energy plants have to sell an increasing proportion of their electricity on the market, like other plant operators, thus taking on greater responsibility for the energy supply system. As of 2017, the amount of funding provided will be calculated via calls for tenders for specific technologies.