The Energy Collective Group

This group brings together the best thinkers on energy and climate. Join us for smart, insightful posts and conversations about where the energy industry is and where it is going.

9,729 Subscribers

Article Post

Does Germany Make a Difference in Global Warming?

In September 2010, the German government announced the following three targets:


Renewable electricity: 35% (or 38.6%) of total electricity production, TEP, by 2020, 50% by 2030, 65% by 2040 and 80% by 2050


Renewable electricity was 16.8%  of TEP in 2011 and 19.8% in 2011.


Renewable energy: 18%  of gross energy consumption, GEC, by 2020, 30% by 2030, and 60% by 2050


GEC was 13,411 pitajoules in 2011, of which 236 PJ from wind and hydro and 1,213 PJ from other renewables, i.e., renewable energy was (236 + 1,213)/13,411 = 10.8% of the GEC. It was 5.3% in 2005, 6.4% in 2006, 7.9% in 2007, 8.1% in 2008, 8.9% in 2009, 9.4% in 2010. See reference 19, “Energy Consumption in Germany” in this URL


Energy efficiency: Reduce national electricity consumption, NEC, 50% below 2008 levels by 2050.


Efficiency measures, (more efficient light bulbs, appliances, HVAC systems, etc.) that reduce the NEC by about 1.07%/yr, which compounded over 38 years (2012 to 2050), would reduce the NEC by 50%. However, if the long-term growth of the GDP is 1.8%/yr, the NEC will double by 2050 thereby completely offsetting the reductions from efficiency measures. To have an NEC reduction of 50%, PLUS have 1.8%/yr GDP growth, efficiency measures that reduce the NEC by about 3.7%/yr compounded over 38 years would be required. 



– Greater percentages of GDP growth would require greater efficiency percentages.

– Germany’s electricity consumption per unit of GDP decreased by an average of about 1.7%/yr from 1990 to 2010. During that period the GDP grew, but the primary energy consumption remained about the same; 14,905 PJ in 1990 and 14,044 PJ in 2010. 

– One way to “manage” the NEC and CO2 emissions is for Germany to build energy consuming plants abroad, instead of domestically; Germany’s GDP would increase, but not its NEC and CO2 emissions.

See reference 14 in this URL.


CO2 Emissions: Germany has a target to reduce its nationwide CO2 emissions from all sources by 40% below 1990 levels by 2020, 55% by 2030, and 80% by 2050. That goal could be achieved, if 100% of electricity is generated by renewables, according to Mr. Flasbarth, the director of Germany’s Federal Environment Agency (UBA). Germany is aiming to convince the rest of Europe to follow its lead.


Germany’s CO2 emissions, excl. other GW gases, were (in million metric tonnes): 1,037 in 1990 (Kyoto base year), 861 in 2006, 834 in 2007, 833 in 2008 and 765 in 2009, 826.5 in 2010. 


Germany’s CO2 emissions, incl. other GW gases, were (in million metric tonnes): 1,232 in 1990 (Kyoto base year), 984 in 2006, 958 in 2007, 959 in 2008, 878 in 2009, 946.5 (est) in 2010. The 2008 – 2012 Kyoto goal is 974.


The CO2 emissions decrease in 2009 was mainly due to decreased goods production in heavy industry and the increase in 2010 was mainly due to renewed economic growth.


A 2009 study by EUtech, engineering consultants, concluded Germany will not achieve its 2020 CO2 emissions target (40% below 1990); the actual reduction will be less than 30%. Jochen Flasbarth is calling for the government to improve CO2 reduction programs to achieve targets.,1518,644677,00.html



World Energy Consumption in 2035: The Energy Information Administration, EIA, is projecting the world’s energy consumption to increase from 505 quadrillion Btu in 2008 to 770 quadrillion Btu in 2035, an increase of 53 percent. 


Worldwide, the renewables fraction (which includes hydro) of total consumption is projected to increase from 10.6% in 2010 to 15.2% in 2035, the fossil fraction to decrease from 84.1%  in 2010 to 79.1% in 2035.  

Note: 1,055 Btu = 1 Joule; a quadrillion = 10 to the power 15.


World CO2 Emissions in 2035: World CO2 emissions (in 1,000 million metric tonnes) were 29.89, 31.63 and 33.51 in 2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively, projected by the EIA from 29.89 in 2008 to 43.2 in 2035.


Germany’s CO2 Emissions Reduction: China, the US, Europe and Germany emitted (in 1,000 million metric tonnes) 7.46, 5.27, 4.3 and 0.79 in 2009, respectively.


China, the US, Europe and Germany projected emissions are (in 1,000 million metric tonnes) 11.7, 6.4, 4.4 and 0.55* in 2030, respectively.


*Germany’s CO2 emissions target for 2030 is 55% below the 1990 Kyoto base year, or (1 – 0.45) x 1.232 = 0.55.


This means significantly greater quantities of CO2 will be emitted in 2035 than in 2008 and that any efforts made by Germany to reduce its CO2 emissions will be extremely insignificant regarding global warming. 


Even if all of Europe were to reduce its CO2 emissions to zero, the increase by other nations would be about twice as great as Europe’s decrease by 2030. 


Conclusion: The above data indicates Germany’s (quixotic?, misguided?, irrational?) exuberance towards renewables will make no global warming and/or climate change difference, but will adversely affect Germany’s future economic well-being, because it will end up with an energy systems setup that will have about 2 to 3 times the levelized (owning+O&M) cost of competitor nations that did not follow Germany.


Germany is implementing renewables through subsidies more so than other nations, because it has the excess capital to do so, and because it claims to want to set an example to the world. Other nations, especially the developing nations, do not have the resources, and/or the willingness, to follow Germany.


Content Discussion

No discussions yet. Start a discussion below.