Revolutionizing energy generation

Germany will dramatically restructure its energy supply by 2020. Electricity from solar, wind, biomass and other renewable energies will have a share of 25 to 30 per cent, up from 6.3 per cent in 2000 and around 12 per cent in 2006. The renewables' share in heat supply will rise to 14 per cent, more than twice the current share of 6.3 per cent.

The key to the success so far has been the Renewable Energy Sources Act (German Government, 2004), which guarantees the feed-in of electricity from renewables at a fair and fixed fee. Thus, the additional costs of renewable energies are apportioned among all electricity consumers. The act has since served as a model for more than 30 countries. The expansion of renewables also shows how countries can profit from fostering climate-friendly technologies. This has enabled German industry to win an important competitive margin in a lead market, with positive effects for other sectors too. In terms of employment, more than 400,000 jobs are expected to be created in the field by 2020.

A crucial role on the supply side is also attributed to combined heat and power (CHP) generation. CHP plants use the heat produced for the generation of electricity for the supply of surrounding residential areas or for process heat in industry and thus achieve an outstanding level of efficiency of up to 90 per cent. It is Germany's aim to increase the share of CHP in electricity generation to 25 per cent by 2020 - twice the current level. Combined heat and power plants are supported with fixed fees per kilowatt hour of electricity, similar to the successful feed-in tariffs for renewable energies. The construction of heat pipes will also be supported by investment grants of 20 per cent.

In addition, under the European emissions trading scheme, the German government has considerably lowered the emission cap for the energy-producing sector and energy-intensive industry. In 2008 to 2012, companies will receive allowances about 15 per cent below their present emissions level. Moreover, while in 2005 to 2007 allowances were allocated free of charge, now 10 per cent will be auctioned. The mode of allocation will create an incentive for the energy-producing sector to reduce emissions. It should be also noted that the forthcoming modernization of the German power plant park will see only the most efficient plants being connected to the grid. Revenues ensured from the auctions will be used to promote climate protection research and investments both in Germany and in developing countries.

Finally, the German government supports the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS). With the cooperation of German industry, two or three CCS demonstration power plants will be set up in Germany by 2015. Our aim is that from 2020 at the latest, the construction of CCS power plants will be a standard throughout the world. Only under such conditions will coal-fired power plants still have a future in a low-carbon world.

Nuclear power is intentionally excluded from the German government's climate protection concept. The dangers of nuclear power are well known, and the disposal of highly toxic nuclear waste is still a global problem. Moreover, uranium reserves are expected to run out within the next 35 years. The German government is therefore convinced that nuclear power will only play a small role, if any, in the world's future energy mix. The solution to the pressing questions of the future lies in the massive expansion of renewable energies and a major increase in energy efficiency.

Solar Panel Basics

Solar Panel Basics

Global warming is a huge problem which will significantly affect every country in the world. Many people all over the world are trying to do whatever they can to help combat the effects of global warming. One of the ways that people can fight global warming is to reduce their dependence on non-renewable energy sources like oil and petroleum based products.

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