2014 – A more positive year for Germany’s “Energiewende”

Increasing energy production from renewables, increased exports, decreased carbon emissions, and decreasing consumer prices: the year 2014, was a memorable one for Germany’s transition to renewable energy. Indeed, for the first time ever, renewables led power production in Germany, generating 27.3% of the country’s electricity. Meanwhile, energy consumption dropped by 3.85%, and the economy grew by 1.4%. Little wonder then that the Berlin think-tank, Agora Energiewende, declared this batch of good news to be: “a sign that investments in energy-saving devices and equipment are paying off.” During 2014, coal-generated power decreased, as did carbon emissions. In the years 2012 and 2013, more coal was used than the 2011 levels, and GHG emissions had grown, slowly but surely. This had been inherently damaging to the reputation of the ‘Energiewende’, both in Germany and abroad, with energy experts questioning the whole purpose of the policy, as emissions were clearly going in the wrong direction. So, last year brought much needed relief for ‘Energiewende’ supporters, as the negative trends reversed, evidenced by the wholesale price for power dropping to a record low of EUR 33 per megawatt hour from EUR 38 in 2013. However, electricity prices for households were at an all-time high of 29.13 EUR cents in 2014 (the second-highest in the EU after Denmark, and 3rd highest, when also including Cyprus). Additionally, about 350,000 households in Germany were not able to pay their electricity bills, which was 23,000 more than in 2012, and 33,000 more than in 2011. Germany also exported more power than ever before. It is, however, important to note that not all exports were voluntary, but rather, [...]