According to the German Association of Energy and Water, Germany produced 81 terawatt hours of its electricity from renewables in the first half of 2014. This represents 31 percent of the country’s total energy needs.
Germany’s energiewende, or “energy transition” program, has focused the nation’s trajectory onto a completely renewable energy grid by the year 2050. Thus far it has shown enormous success, with one state, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern generating 120 percent of its electricity from renewables, and mainly from wind power. On a single Sunday last May, renewables generated over 74 percent of Germany’s total electricity needs.
All of Germany’s renewable energy production is up while most of its non-renewables are down. Solar has increased 28 percent, wind 19 percent and biomass by 7 percent, whereas its gas power plants are generating 50 percent of what they were in 2010.
Yet for all this clean energy success, Germany remains the European Union’s biggest polluter. After the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Germany began to divest itself from nuclear power. To take up the slack, it turned to coal, the energy source with the largest carbon footprint. Since 2008, U.S. coal exports to Germany have more than doubled.
Of Europe’s Dirty 30, the biggest carbon emitters in the EU, Germany and the UK tied for first place in 2013. Germany is making tremendous strides in the renewable sector, but it still produces more electricity from coal than any other energy source – 69.7 TWh from brown coal and 50.9 TWh from hard coal.