Nearly 80 Percent of Germany’s Power Came From Renewables In An Afternoon

For a few hours in July, 78 percent of Germany's power was generated by renewables like solar and wind. The country is spending €200 billion to move away from fossil fuels permanently.

Photo of Berlin from Shutterstock

For a few hours on Saturday, on July 25, 78 percent of Germany's electricity was produced by wind and solar power.

Germany hopes 80 percent of the country's energy will come from renewables by 2050.

What caused the record-breaking numbers? According to Craig Morris, a writer for the German website Energiewende, it was the weather. Morris attributes the rise in wind power to a storm passing through the north of the country, where the majority of Germany's wind turbines stand. It also helped that it was a sunny day in southern Germany, home to most of the country's solar panels.

The infrastructure that allowed Germany to harness energy from this “perfect storm” has been in place for a few years now. Back in 2011 Germany's government announced plans to phase out nuclear power. Through a project called Energiewende, Germany hopes 80 percent of its energy will come from renewables by 2050.

While the goal is lofty for an industrial nation of 80 million people, they've already hit some huge milestones. In 2014, more than 25 percent of Germany's annual energy came from renewables, an increase from 6 percent in 2000.

Energiewende will cost an estimated  €200 billion by the time it's complete. But economists predict the renewable industry will create upwards of 80,000 jobs. And as the price of fossil fuels surpasses the price of other energies, investing in renewables may save Germany money in the long run.  

Part of the Energiewende initiative is an interactive tool that lets users see what sources Germany's electricity is coming from. Here is what it looked like last Saturday:

Image from Energy Charts.

"It’s a significant milestone," said Osha Gray Davidson, author of Clean Break, a book that looks at how Germany is handling its energy transition and what America can learn from them.

"Even if it owes something to unusual weather. I’m always thrilled to see renewable energy records broken," Davidson told YES! in an email. "These events offer hope in rather dark times." 

Correction: The original text noted that 78 percent of Germany's power came from renewables on Saturday, July 25. This was true for a few hours that day, but not for the whole day.