The share of renewable energies in Germany’s power mix has shot up so high that the electricity grid and the subsidy framework has been unable to keep up. Now, the government wants to slow down the process. German commentators say that the current chaos endangers the entire project.
Many scoffed at the initial target that Chancellor Angela Merkel set last June, when she announced that Germany was turning away from nuclear power and toward renewable energies. Her government decided that by 2020 renewables would make up a 35 percent share of the energy mix. It was, said many experts at the time, an impossible goal.
In the 14 months since then, however, the situation has changed dramatically. In the first half of 2012, the country generated fully 25 percent of its electricity needs via wind, solar and other alternative power sources. Doubts as to whether the 35 percent target is attainable have virtually vanished.
Now a new set of problems have cropped up, and quickly. The fast pace into the renewables future has meant that German consumers are faced with skyrocketing electricity bills and that the country’s energy grid has suddenly become outdated. Indeed, Environment Minister Peter Altmaier now finds himself in the awkward position of having to put the brakes on the country’s energy revolution.