Germany sets world record for pencentage of renewable supply  

On Sunday May 11, Germany set a new world record for the highest percentage of total energy consumed coming from renewable sources.

The amazing achievement has been decades in the making, and it’s expected that the records will keep tumbling as Germany forges ahead with its Energiewende (energy transformation).

Amazingly, the wholesale price of electricity in the country dropped into the negative for a large part of the afternoon, a worrying sign for utilities with the break-even pointing falling around 3.2c per kWh.

For the first quarter of 2014 Germany achieved 27% overall supply from renewable energy sources, dwarfing countries like the US at 13% and Australia at only 9.87%.

In the over-saturated German solar market installations continue to fall slowing solar growth. Adding 3.3GW of PV installations in 2013 was a drop from the 2012 benchmark of 7.6GW. US, Japan and China are now enjoying increased growth as they play catch up with their European competitor.

Driven by government incentives like a standardised feed-in tariff (FIT), installation figures have far surpassed expectations. With long-term contracts in place offering generous returns for renewable energy producers they have been forced to scale-back the tariffs for future solar systems.

Previously Germany’s FIT was funded by a surcharge pail by utility customers. A proposed “PV self-consumption charge” will be contested in court.

Recently former US Energy Secretary Steven Chu unveiled his plan to avoid spiraling utility costs resulting in rising electricity prices for those not generating power from renewable sources.

By using their incredible financial backing, utilities could invest in solar power systems on behalf of their customers, in some case even paying to install them on their customers rooftops, then charging a reduced rate for the electricity the system generates. This provides renewable energy for the customer, allows the utilities to recoup their upfront costs and super-charge the solar revolution across his home state of California.

Seemingly being the world leader in renewable energy doesn’t guarantee smooth sailing, but it’s certainly a good problem to have.