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Topic - Renewable Energy

For a future of green energy

Introduction

The expansion of renewable energy is one of the central pillars in Germany's energy transition. We want to make our electricity supply more climate-friendly and, in light of an increasing scarcity of resources, become less dependent on fossil fuels.

Germany's energy supply is becoming “greener” every year as the contribution made by renewable sources is constantly growing. In 2015, renewable energy sources covered roughly 33 per cent of gross electricity generation. The figure for 2014 had been 25.8 per cent. By 2025, 40-45 per cent of electricity consumed in Germany is to derive from renewables; the figure for 2035 is to be 55-60 per cent. The growing significance of renewable energy sources in the power sector is largely due to the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG).

Gross electricity generation in Germany in 2016, Working Group on Energy Balances, status: December 2016 Enlarge

Gross electricity generation in Germany in 2016*, status: December 2016

© Working Group on Energy Balances

Energy sources that drive forward the energy transition

Wind and solar energy are the most important renewables in Germany’s energy transition. Additionally, biomass, hydropower and geothermal energy make valuable contributions to the sustainable energy supply.

  • Solar power can be used directly in many ways. In photovoltaic installations, solar panels directly transform sunlight into electricity. In solar thermal installations – which are used in regions with high solar radiation – sunlight is transformed into electricity by either using high temperature heat storage or solar collectors. Only 5 or 10 years ago, solar power was still one of the most expensive forms of renewable energy. Rapid advances in technology have led to solar installations becoming much cheaper, and they are now among the most affordable renewables technologies. And the technological development of solar installations is still ongoing, which means that the cost of these installations could be reduced even further in future. Solar energy currently accounts for around 6 per cent of Germany’s electricity demand.
  • Wind energy plays a crucial role in expanding renewables. It now accounts for about 15 per cent of the German power supply. Apart from expanding wind energy in suitable onshore locations and replacing older, smaller turbines with modern and more powerful ones – known as repowering – expanding offshore wind energy is playing a growing role. At the end of 2015, Germany’s offshore wind power capacity in the grid reached around 3,280 megawatts (MW). The Federal Government is aiming to bring this figure up to 15,000 MW by 2030.
  • Biomass in solid, liquid and gaseous form is being used for electricity and heat generation and for the production of biofuels. Just under 60 per cent of the total final energy from renewable sources was generated by the different types of biomass used to this end in 2015.

Four key figures on renewable energy

31.6
Symbolicon für Grüner Strom

per cent share
of renewables in gross electricity generation in Germany in 2015

42.3
Symbolicon für Windräder

per cent share
of wind power in electricity generation from renewable sources in 2015

6.92
Symbolicon für Summe in Euro

ct/kWh: lowest bid
made in an auction for funding for ground-mounted PV installations on 1 April 2016. (Back in 2006, funding still amounted to 40 ct/kWh)

17.6
Symbolicon für Sonne

per cent Germany’s share
of global installed photovoltaics capacity in 2015

2014 Renewable Energy Sources Act: Relaunching the energy transition

Making the right choices

The Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) is a key driving force of the expansion of renewable energy in Germany. The 2014 revision of the Renewable Energy Sources Act was an important step towards setting the energy transition on a path to success.

The Renewable Energy Sources Act built a platform for the expansion of renewables, enabling them to emerge from a niche to become one of the mainstays of Germany’s power supply, generating more than 30 per cent of our electricity. This law had the aim of enabling young technologies such as wind and solar energy to enter the market with support provided by fixed tariffs and a purchase guarantee. However, the rapid expansion also resulted in a rise in costs – particularly of the surcharge imposed under the Renewable Energy Sources Act ('EEG surcharge').

2014 revision of the Renewable Energy Sources Act: an important step for re-booting Germany's energy transition

The revision of the Renewable Energy Sources Act in 2014 was therefore an important step towards ensuring the continued success of Germany's energy transition. The revision particularly aimed to substantially slow any further rise in costs, to systematically steer the expansion of renewable energy, and to bring renewable energy more and more to the market. It is clear that the price of electricity is a major factor in their level of competitiveness, particularly for energy-intensive industries facing international competition. These companies are covered by the special equalisation scheme, which permits exceptions from the electricity price under certain conditions. Find out more about the special equalisation scheme and self-suppliers.

Expanding the use of renewable energy cheaply

The design of the auctions for the newbuild of ground-mounted PV installations has also been made as easy to understand and as transparent as possible in order to deliver a high level of stakeholder diversity. In order to attain the expansion targets for renewables in a low-cost way and to gather experience, the pilot auctions for ground-mounted PV installations have been launched, and are also targeted at citizens' energy projects and energy cooperatives. You can find out more about this here.

Publications on renewable energy

2017 Renewable Energy Sources Act

Competition-based funding for renewable energy

Competition-based funding for renewable energy

The 2014 Renewable Energy Sources Act paved the way for making the energy transition a success. The 2017 revision of the Renewable Energy Sources Act rings in the next phase of the energy transition: from 2017 onwards, funding rates for renewable electricity will no longer be fixed by government, but will be determined via a market-based auction scheme – a fundamental change in funding renewable energy.

The expansion of renewable energy continues to be one of the key pillars of the energy transition. We want to increase the share of renewable energy from its present level of around 33% up to 40-45% in 2025 and to 55-60% in 2035. The next phase of the energy transition will focus on bringing about more competition, a continuous expansion with effective steering, restrictions on costs, stakeholder diversity and dovetailing with grid expansion.

Competitive auctions help steer the expansion and limit the costs

The 2017 Renewable Energy Sources Act is the key instrument to achieve an effective annual quantitative steering and to bring renewable energies closer to the market. From the beginning of 2017, the level of funding will be determined on the market by auction.

Maintaining stakeholder diversity

By exempting small installations that generate no more than 750 kW from the obligation to take part in the auctions, relaxing rules for citizens’ energy companies bidding in auctions for onshore wind funding, and streamlining all auction models, we are making sure that the diversity of stakeholders will be maintained.

The expansion of renewables capacity and of our grid capacity is to be better synchronised

The Federal Government and the Länder are sticking to the existing grid expansion plans. However, the pace of work needs to pick up. Nevertheless, there will be bottlenecks in the transmission grid in some regions of Germany during a transition period, particularly in the north of Germany. It is therefore important to ensure that the energy which we generate can also be transported to consumers. For this reason, during a transition period, the expansion of onshore wind energy will be subject to local adjustments where there are significant bottlenecks in the grid. You can find out more about grid expansion here.

Find out more about the 2017 Renewable Energy Sources Act here.

Diagrams on renewable energies

Importing renewables from other European Member States

Opening up renewable energy auctions to European Member States

When it comes to funding renewable energy in future, we will rely on competition-based auctions instead of fixed funding rates. Bidders from other European Member States will also be allowed to take part in these auctions – from 2017 onwards, auctions for 5 per cent of new renewables capacity installed each year will be opened up to other European Member States.

Pilot auctions for ground-mounted PV installations are being organised in order to test this in practice. The ‘Cross-border Renewable Energy Ordinance’ – which was adopted by the German Cabinet on 1 June 2016 – sets out the rules for this new procedure. In summer 2016, a first cooperation agreement between Germany and Denmark will be adopted.

Further information

Renewable heat

Using renewables for heating

More than half our energy is used for heating and cooling purposes. If we want the energy transition to be successful, it is therefore crucial to also expand the use of renewable energy in the heating sector.

Renewables are taking on an ever more important role in the heating market. Between 2000 and 2015, the share of renewables in the heating sector tripled, rising from 4.4 per cent to 13.2 per cent.

Share of renewable energy in heat consumption in Germany; Source: BMWi; Datenbasis: Arbeitsgruppe Erneuerbare-Energien-Statistik

Share of renewable energy in heat consumption in Germany

© BMWi; Datenbasis: Arbeitsgruppe Erneuerbare-Energien-Statistik

Within the heat market, the use of renewable energies is regulated by the Renewable Energies Heat Act. Under this law, builders of new buildings are required to generate a percentage of their heating requirements from renewable sources of energy, to undertake certain compensatory measures such as installing additional insulation, or to use combined heat and power systems or district heating.

In addition to the Renewable Energies Heat Act, the Federal Government uses the Market Incentive Programme (MAP) to increase the proportion of heat generated from renewable sources. Under this programme, assistance is provided primarily for existing buildings to promote the use of renewable energy technology in the heat market, such as solar thermal installations, wood pellet heating systems and efficient heat pumps.

Energy Export Initiative

Off to new markets!

The Energy Export Initiative provides support for small and medium-sized companies in Germany’s energy sector, and helps them access new markets abroad.

The Initiative targets companies that offer solutions in the area of renewable energy, energy efficiency, smart grids and energy storage. You can use the services provided under the Energy Export Initiative to promote your business! Valuable information on all the services available under the Initiative and an events calendar can be found here.

Further information

  • 03/08/2016 - Press release - Grids and Grid Expansion

    Press release: Cabinet approves Incentive Regulation Ordinance

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  • 26/07/2016 - Press release - Renewable Energy

    Press release: The first solar airplane to circumnavigate the world: Baake congratulates Solar Impulse team

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  • 20/07/2016 - Press release - European and International Energy Policy

    Press release: Denmark and Germany sign first cooperation agreement on mutual cross-border pilot auctions for PV installations

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  • 08/06/2016 - Press release - The Energy Transition

    Press release: Minister Gabriel: 2016 Renewable Energy Sources Act marks paradigm shift and launches next phase of energy transition

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  • 01/06/2016 - Press release - Electricity Market of the Future

    Press release: Cabinet adopts important energy policies

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  • 10/05/2016 - Press release - Renewable Energy

    Press release: Statement by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy on today's judgement by the General Court on the EEG 2012

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Solaranlage zum Thema Erneuerbare Energien; Source: iStock.com/nullplus