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Germany proves the promise of renewable energy: hits 20 percent renewables

September 06, 2011
"The renewables are showing their true potential, and that is in spite of numerous attempts to obstruct their progress,"
- Anike Peters, an energy expert with Greenpeace Germany

As many people in the United States question whether renewable energy is a viable alternative to fossil fuels, Germany now derives 20.8 percent of its electricity from renewable sources—a 15 percent increase since 2000, reports Der Spiegel.

In the last year alone, Germany's share of renewable electricity increased from 18.3 to 20.8 percent, and the country plans for further growth. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government aims to derive no less than 35 percent of the country's energy from renewable sources by 2020. Opposition parties believe 40 or more percent of Germany's energy could be sustainable by 2020.

Over the past decade, wind and biomass have fueled Germany's growth in clean energy. In 2011, however, photovoltaic (solar energy) began driving growth in the renewable energy sector—even though Germany receives roughly the same amount of sunlight as Alaska. Photovoltaic solar power increased more than 76 percent in the past year and now accounts for 3.5 percent of electricity production— more than hydropower. Considering hydroelectricity contributes only 3.3 percent of Germany's power, the share of solar, wind, and biomass derived energy has grown considerably.

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