Germany hits new green-power milestone – Where does the U.S. stand?
Germany hits new green-power milestone – CSMonitor.com.
Green energy sources now account for 20 percent of Germany’s electricity production – a new high. Germany aims to be 35 percent green by 2020, and to have phased out nuclear power by 2022.
Given that hydroelectricity contributes only a small part, 3.3 percent, of Germany’s power grid, the share of the “new” renewable energy sources – solar, wind, and biomass – has grown significantly.
The new figures, published in late August by the German Association of Energy Providers, show the share of renewable electricity sources rising by more than 2 percent in a year
Ms. Loreck points out that the decision for a nuclear phase-out as well as the legal framework for the promotion of renewable energy sources have been there for more than a decade, particularly the feed-in tariffs, which guarantee providers of green energy access to the power grid and a fixed price for up to 20 years.
The costs for the feed-in tariffs are borne by the German consumers, currently at 3.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. And according to a new study by pollsters TNS Infratest, 79 percent of Germans are happy to pay this price or even think it should be higher.
In contrast to Germany, the U.S. renewable energy portfolio consists of approximately 8% of total consumption. The share of energy consumed by type can be seen below.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, there are several challenges to developing a larger U.S. renewable energy portfolio. First, renewable sources are capital-intensive and are “generally more expensive to build and to operate than coal and natural gas plants.” Also, “the best renewable resources are often available only in remote areas, so building transmission lines to deliver power to large metropolitan areas is expensive.”
NeilS – As more doubts begin to surface about the future of the Kyoto Protocol, which is set to expire in 2012, it is good to see some countries take their renewable futures into their own hands. Todd Stern, the president’s envoy for climate change, stated yesterday that the European Union was the only large entity left that would potentially support the protocol going forward.
Of course, this is grim news for our increasingly warm planet. Not to mention that the United States, as the second largest producer of carbon emissions, has a growing political body that doesn’t believe in global warming in spite of scientists insistence that it is a reality.
Germans, on the other hand, seem united in their vision of a renewable energy future. 79% of Germans are happy to pay extra taxes to overcome the kinds of challenges that the United States faces in building their renewable portfolio. Of course, Germany is a much smaller country so building the infrastructure is a bit easier. But, the United States has its own advantages. For example, the U.S. is endowed with much more productive land for outfitting renewable sources.
I wonder how many Americans would be willing to pay more for their energy if they knew it came from renewable sources.