German Chancellor Merkel Focuses on Germany’s Renewable Energy Sector

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the first female Chancellor of Germany, is anything but an environmentalist. The political party Chancellor Merkel leads, the Christian Democratic Union, is comparable to the Republican Party in the U.S. with an emphasis on free markets and individual achievement as the factors behind economic prosperity. However, with renewable energy job creation and economic growth Chancellor Merkel’s top priority, her new renewable energy policy could catapult Germany to be the first industrialized nation to transfer from nuclear and fossil fuel energy to renewable energy.

In March, Chancellor Merkel surprised Germans and other nations by declaring a rush phase out of Germany’s 17 nuclear reactors in response to the Fukushima disaster in Japan. If Chancellor Merkel’s renewable energy policy is successful this could mean a drastic cut in the use of coal, a significant increase in renewable energy investments, and a substantial reduction in CO2 emissions for Germany’s 81 million residents living between the North Sea and the Alps. Renewable energy which includes green technologies such as wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass could dominate Germany’s energy grid by 2030 powering German factories and households.

“We want to end the use of nuclear energy and reach the age of renewable energy as fast as possible,” said Chancellor Merkel.

Germany is off to a good start already. Since the 1990s, the German’s Renewable Energy Sources Act, a law that subsidizes each kilowatt hour of “green electricity” favorable to operators, has funded billions of Euros toward Germany’s renewable energy projects. In fact, the Renewable Energy Sources Act has been so successful for both consumers and investors that even American multinational company’s like Google are getting into the game by investing hundreds of millions into Germany’s renewable energy sector. This influx of cash into Germany’s renewable energy market has jolted the country’s renewable energy grid output from 5 percent in the 1990s to 17 percent today. To put that in perspective, renewable energy accounted for only 8% of total energy consumption in the United States in 2009. In 2010, Germany ($41.2 billion USD) also surpassed the United States ($34.0 billion USD) in renewable energy investment, according to the Pew Charitable Trust Report, putting Germany in second place behind China.

By John Courtney

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