Germany’s renewables more than make up for its nuclear phase-out

Posted by – 2020/01/02

NEW updated with data for 2019 too.

Germany has been phasing out its nuclear power, as policy, since 1999. It’s also been expanding its renewable generation. The nuclear phase-out provides the renewables market with a clear, long-term positive signal. As does Germany’s commitment to decarbonisation.

I’ve previously written about German PV and German offshore wind capacity factors, Now, let’s take a look at how quickly the rollout of renewables has happened, relative to the decline of nuclear. The chart below¬† shows the generation (not capacity, but actual electricity generated) averaged over each year 1990-2019 for low-carbon sources. Back in 1990, these generated an average of less than 20 GW of power. By 2017, it had risen to over 33 GW. That was the average amount of low-carbon electricity generated, with the power averaged over the year (not the installed capacity).

Thanks to Zoido4Design for first drawing my attention to this way of visualising the data, and for the original chart, that I’ve revised and updated with the latest available data.

That massive investment in renewables from 2000 onwards was part of a package of policies that gave confidence to investors that there was a long-term environment where their renewable investments would prosper. The combination of incentives for renewable investment, combined with the phaseout of nuclear power, prompted huge investment in renewables in Germany.

And just to clarify: yes, the chart is mean generated power, not capacity. Yes, the unit of the y-axis is GW. That’s the SI unit of power. If you’re confused, just consider: you’d probably be happy if the unit was TWh/y, right? But that’s a unit of power too. It’s just not a very good unit of power: it’s not an SI unit, and leap-years are a problem.

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Andrew ZP Smith, ORCID: 0000-0003-3289-2237; "Germany’s renewables more than make up for its nuclear phase-out". Retrieved from on 2020-05-25 10:44 GMT