German GHG and Renewables Update

German GHG and Renewables Update…

Germany’s energiewende program has been touted as an example for all to follow in efforts to cut CO2 emissions.

This begs the question:

What have been the results of energiewende in the power sector?

Specifically, to reduce CO2 emissions by promoting the use of wind and solar.

Figure 1: CO2 Equivalents in millions of tons on y axis. Years on x axis

The first chart shows greenhouse gas reductions since 1990 for all sectors, including transportation.

Overall, GHG have been reduced by 28%. Largest reductions by sector, in tons of CO2:

  • Manufacturing, construction and industry 96 tons
  • Energy 95 tons
  • Households 44 tons

Transportation increased by a few tons over this period.

Figure 2: Gross power production in terawatt hours by year, 1990 to 2016

Figures 2 and 3 show the amount of renewables. Figure 2 from 1990 to 2016, Figure 3 for 2016.

Figure 3: Share of terawatt hours by source in 2016

As shown in the side graph of Figure 3, wind and solar only accounted for 18% of electricity production in 2016. The balance of the 29% of renewables, came from hydro at 11%, plus biomass and waste.

Coal still accounts for 40% of Germany’s electricity production.

Nuclear accounts for 13% of Germany’s electricity, but nuclear is to be shut down by 2022.

According to the NY Times, Germany has spent over $200 billion on renewable energy subsidies.

The average German household pays 33 cents per kWh for its electricity, which is about three times as much as the average American.


In spite of huge investments in wind and solar, renewables, including hydro and biomass, only account for 29% of Germany’s electricity production.

At the same time, Germany has only reduced its CO2 emissions by 28%.

Germany still uses coal for 40% of its electricity production … Which is more than coal’s share in the United States.

By any objective standard, Germany’s energiewende is not a role model to be followed.

If CO2 is such an existential threat, why is Germany still using coal, and why is Germany eliminating nuclear power?

Germany preaches to the world about cutting CO2 emissions, but won’t follow its own advice: I.e., Do what I say, Not what I do.

. . .


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4 Replies to “German GHG and Renewables Update”

  1. Your observation is spot-on as so often. However, what would you suggest that a country like Germany do? Coal is quite expensive there and no longer abundant, so increase nuclear? Import more gas from Russia?

    • A German friend of my brother has substituted gas for oil heating. Still, as someone who thinks paranoids are insanely optimistic, I have to agree that nukes are the best bet for Germany. If they’d spent the $200 billion on nukes, they’d have decreased their CO2 emissions by far more than that saved by the windmills. Since uranium is relatively cheap and easily stored, they’d be able to guarantee their power supplies long enough to grind up the local granite if there’s any problem in buying overseas. All industrial societies need plentiful, reliable and relatively cheap energy. Nukes are far cheaper than a war for energy resources.

      • No question that nuclear would be the best solution for Germany if it wants to cut CO2 emissions.