German Investment in Renewable Changing the Economic Landscape

Germany has made a major push to replace existing energy options with cheaper renewable energy. The nation is largely responsible for the downward spike in solar and wind power costs seen globally. Germany, the largest industrial nation to be so dependent on renewable energy, is currently receiving 20% to 30% of national energy from renewable sources. Solar panels prices have seen a 70% decrease in the past five years making them more economically viable than ever before. The dramatic decrease in prices can be traced to German strategies. The European nation has invested $140 million in renewable power, prompting China to push out large supplies of renewable resources. The costs of the transition have largely been paid by surcharges added to electrical bills that can cost the average German family $280 a year.

The Germans were not really buying power — they were buying price decline,”

The transition from conventional power sources to renewable has created some upset in the German economy. Utility companies have seen exceptional losses as a result of decreased electricity prices. Instability in conventional energy production could stall the nations rapid move toward renewable. The greatest drawback to relying so heavily on sources such as wind and solar is their intermittent nature. Alternative sources of energy would be necessary to guarantee continuous energy availability and conventional energy is not necessarily profitable if operated in a sporadic manner. These concerns are weighing heavily on lawmakers who are considering new rules to offset the struggles coming along with the energy transitions.

Indeed, the German people are paying significant money, but in Germany, we can afford this — we are a rich country. It’s a gift to the world.”

Germany’s commitment to renewable energy has made waves in the US. The sharp decline in the price of solar and wind power has caused a spike in demand in the US. Most notable examples are initiatives in California, which aims to put the state at 33% renewable by 2020, and Burlington, Vermont, a city of 42,000 that is 100% reliant on renewable energy. The boom in solar, wind, and water has set American lawmakers and companies to find solutions to the potential drawbacks to renewable energy. Smart chips in appliances and far-flung power lines to provide wind and solar energy to distant communities are some of the options being discussed. American tests for some of these energy solutions are proving promising, providing hope for an easier transition into a renewable future.

 

Read More – Sun and Wind Alter Global Landscape, Leaving Utilities Behind (Justin Gillis, New York Times)

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Originally from Gaithersburg, Maryland, Millan is a senior at the George Washington University studying Biological Anthropology.

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