On 25 July a new national record for renewable energy generation in Germany was made as 78% of electricity demand was produced by renewables sources. The previous record was 74% in May of 2014.
A stormy day across northern Europe combined with sunny conditions in southern Germany led to the new record. Most of Germany’s wind turbines are installed in the north and most of its solar panels are in the south.
Wind and solar generated an estimated 40.65 gigawatts (GW) of power on 25 July. When this is combined with other forms of renewables, including 4.85 GW from biomass and 2.4 GW from hydropower, the total reaches 47.9 GW of renewable power — occurring at a time when peak power demand was 61.1 GW on Saturday afternoon.
Renewable sources accounted for 27.8% of Germany’s power consumption in 2014, up from 6.2 % in 2000. The expansion of renewables and another weather phenomenon — a relatively mild winter – led to Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions falling for the first time in three years in 2014, a 4.3 percent year-over-year drop. Greenhouse gas emissions are now down to their lowest level since 1990, according to analysts at Agora Energiewende.
In response to the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan in 2011, Germany decided to shutter its nuclear power operations, causing the country to rely more on coal as it transitions to renewables. Currently coal still accounts for some 44% of the country’s power generation.
As more and more wind turbines and solar panels come online there is a major technology push to create better forecasting software and to increase the efficiency and enhance the location of these forms of power. IBM and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently announced that they are working on a producing solar and wind forecasting that’s at least 30% more accurate than conventional methods.