Renewable energy has been widely spoken about in recent years as the world’s resources of oil deplenish and we start to see affects of global warming. Despite this, we have yet to see most countries seriously invest in green energy production. Many places are still gaining a high percentage of their power from fossil fuels or nuclear power stations.
Germany has begun to buck the trend; they have recently broken a record for solar power generation. As the country baked under last weekend’s heat wave it created the equivalent power of 20 nuclear power stations through renewable generators. Within the country there is currently a battle between the big utilities companies and the community-owned renewable generators. Germany has seen a radical transformation with Chancellor Angela Merkel seeing renewable energy as a vital part to his chance of getting re-elected in 2013.
The ambition of Germany’s change of energy direction, universally called “Energiewende” is huge. The country aims to cut its energy usage by 50% by 2050 and to produce 80% of its energy from renewable sources. In this same time frame the UK expects to see electricity usage increase between 33% and 66%. The country took a huge turn last year when they closed nearly half of their nuclear power plants and plan to shut the remaining plants by 2022.
Germany’s current aims to improve its renewable energy from 20% to 35% by 2020. While many people have stated this is “starry eyed” or “unachievable” Sascha Muller-Kraenner, the executive director of the Nature Conservancy in Europe has stated the figures are based on real experience of the countries current renewable roll-out.
In contrast the UK has done very little to increase renewable energy, with only 9.5% of electricity in 2011 coming from green sources. In Germany 65% of renewables are owned by individuals compared to less than 10% in the UK. One B2B UK energy provider called Opus Energy is trying to improve this and has recently introduced a renewable scheme to help small businesses generate their own power. The question remains when will the rest of Britain follow in Germany’s footsteps?