Germany Going 100% Renewable (Or Yet Another Reason Why America Is Falling Behind)

This is about the coolest damn thing ever. I have long thought that our big monkey brains could come up with a way to power all the little gadgets we have with nothing but renewable energy. Leave it to them wacky Germans to actually go and do it.

Scientists from the University of Kassel have been busy proving that Germany can power itself entirely by renewable energy. In an ongoing experiment called the KombiKraftwerk ‘Combined Power Plant’ (English version), they link 36 biogas plants, wind, solar and hydropower installations in a distributed network to show that no matter what the weather, or what time of day it is, germany could get all its energy from renewable power.

I don’t just mean adding a bit to the grid, I mean all of it. Peak load, base load, spikes, low power demand times, the works. Pretty freaking sweet if you ask me.

The test project is scaled to meet 1/10,000th of the electricity demand in Germany. This scale corresponds to the annual electricity requirements of a small town with around 12,000 households. Meaning that if scaled up large enough it could provide all of Germany’s power.

Projections show Germany has enough domestic resources to scale up production of renewables and replace all fossil fuels and nuclear power, and the scientists think the country can achieve full renewables based energy autonomy by mid-century.

combined power plant

There are future plans to add not only carbon neutral power sources, but to actually produce enough renewable energy to power carbon capture and storage technologies to remove co2 already in the air. Thus helping to work us back towards a state of climate when global warming was not such a destructive specter.

In such ‘negative emissions’ or ‘carbon negative’ energy systems, the energy crops used for the bio-power then act as machines that store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which is consequently captured and buried under the ground in geological formations. Scientists project that if such systems were applied on a global scale, they could cool the planet and take us back to pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 levels by mid-century.

If the US doesn’t get its act together it will be left in the dirty carbon past while other developed nations push forward with clean renewable technology. The USA could be the one developing these technologies (and then selling them to the world), developing green jobs, and actually leading the world. Lets hope our next president gets to work on these problems.

Further reading:

Technical specs (pdf)

16 thoughts on “Germany Going 100% Renewable (Or Yet Another Reason Why America Is Falling Behind)”

  1. Very nice. I was just listening to “The Hydrogen Solution” on a CBC Ideas podcast earlier today –

    Nice to see folks thinking more systematically about energy needs and seeing ways in which by thinking creatively we can start meeting our needs for power.

    I do think thought that demand side management is still the greatest place for savings. It’s a harder sell though to convince people that they need to live their lives differently and come to learn the difference between needs and wants.

  2. @ Mike Gifford, I think we all wil learn some responsibility given the education on how to do it.

    The light must be shown…the alternative must be announced and then we simply just have to do it.

    Basically, I say, consume less. Put money in the bank and help save the environment by consuming less.

    Economies are meant to be robust and jobs will have to be found elsewhere rather than just making widgets the world doesn’t need.

    The fashion victim status of the Western World is what causes Global warming: correct me if I am wrong.

    We have a solution now so let’s just do it.

  3. I don’t agree with the previous poster. While there are many areas where efficiencies can be found and savings made, the one where more energy needs to be spent is couture, as long as so many people in the world are such bad dressers.

  4. Pingback: Mike's ramblings
  5. It appears that the Germans have not, in fact, gone and done it. This is a hypothetical setup only. (And one might note that siting the facilities as far from each other as possible won’t be possible when scaling it to the whole country.) Meanwhile, the new government is slowing down the decommissioning of nuclear.

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