A few days after the Fukushima disaster, on March 14th 2011, Angela Merkel’s cabinet decided to shut down eight reactors and set a three months moratorium for the nine remaining reactors. On June 6th 2011 the Federal Government decided to phase-out the seven oldest nuclear plants as well as the Krümmel reactor, and anticipated the phase out of the remaining reactors in 2022. On June 30th 2011, the German Parliament voted with a large majority the 13th amendment of the Atomic Energy Act (AtG) that came into force on August 6th 2011. Given that 18% of the gross generated electricity in 2011 was produced by nuclear sources, this represented an extraordinary turnaround in the German energy policy.

 

A quick look at the German map, as provided in figure 1, shows the energy supply challenge for Germany, which will generate in the future most of its energy in the North of the country (onshore wind farms in Lower Saxony for example, and offshore wind farms in the North and Baltic Seas), with its industrial centers in the Western and the southern side of the country. As shown in the figure 1, there are three main consumption areas located in the Ruhr area (North Rhine Westfalia), Stuttgart area (Baden- Wurttemberg) and Munich area (Bavaria). The “power to gas” solution is often evoked, as a solution to transport energy from the North to the South of the country without resorting to unpopular high voltage transmission lines.

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Figure 1 – Context for storage in Germany

 

The first semester 2012 showed new records for renewable energy in Germany. 67,9 TWh have been generated during this period, accounting for the first time for more than 25% of the total generated energy, whereas 21% of the total generated energy came from renewable sources in 2011. Figure 2 below shows the contribution of the different sources:

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Figure 2 – Share of different renewable resources in the total generated electricity during the first semester of 2012

Compared to 2011, the portion of intermittent resources increased: wind energy generated 7,7% in 2011, and 9,2% during the first semester of 2012, whereas solar PV increased its generation by 47% . In 2016, German TSOs expect around 94 GW of renewable installed capacity, of which 44 GW of solar PV and 42 GW of wind power . In 2011, there were 24,8 GW of solar PV capacity and 29 GW of wind capacity, out of 65,5 of renewable generation capacity  .

Germany has around 7,7 GW of installed pump hydro storage capacities. Although environmental associations are opposed to new projects, 4730 MW new pumped hydro projects are in the pipeline (there are under development or authorization process, and are expected to be commissioned between 2015 and 2020).