It looks like Chancellor Merkel believes that now that Ex-President Obama has been replaced by President Trump, she is the developed nation’s leader regarding the Paris Agreement.
So, is Germany leading the way? The Chancellor’s plan “Energiewende” (transition to renewable energy) has set out goals with a timetable to reduce CO2 emissions and switch the national’s energy supply to renewables that can replace fossil fuels. The table below summarizes these goals:
The Greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals are spelled out in the table. The goals, for the years 2014 through 2050, are shown as an amount of reduction based away from the1990 emissions of CO2. That was the year of the reunification of East and West Germany. The goal in 2050 is a minimum reduction of greenhouse gases of 80 to 95%.
The next category down is the “increase in share of renewable energy in final energy consumption”. The second line down, “share in gross power consumption really best describes the impact of wind and solar renewables. This will be examined in future posting.
To put the greenhouse gas goals, in perspective, a look at the following chart that shows the past and projected CO2 emissions is necessary.
The numbers may be hard to read, so, the emissions in the year 1990 were 1,251 million tonnes of CO2. The emissions in 2016 were 906 million tonnes of CO2. The emissions in 2016 were higher than the year before. The problem here for the Energiewende is getting to a minimum of 40% by 2020. After a 40 per cent reduction of 1990 levels the 2020 emissions would be 751 million tonnes. That means that 156 tonnes must be eliminated in 4 years. The following chart shows the year by year reductions or increases in CO2. That’s an average of a little more than 4 % per year. Currently the 2017 emission look like they will be greater than those of 2017, making the remaining 3 years a bit more difficult and they probably will not make it.
The big drop in 2009 was probably the result of the world-wide economic recession and hopefully we will not experience another one that large again for a long while.
Following the Fukushima nuke failures in March 2011, the German government elected to shut down their nuclear reactors. These reactors contributed no CO2 to the atmosphere and the Germans replaced this loss of electrical generation capacity with lignite powered electrical units. Lignite produces more CO2 per unit of electricity than does regular coal. So, this is a self-inflicted setback. The choice of the year 1990 has always been somewhat controversial. When the Kyoto Treaty goals were being established, Germany used that date and it was alleged that was because they got benefit of shutting down all the noncompetitive industry in East Germany. This gave them a big benefit of some “free” reductions” to count as part their commitment. That is probably being too cynical. I can attest to the terrible external condition of some East German chemical plants that I saw in the late eighties. This was not the case in West Germany at that time.
Are the Germans leading the developed nations now? My guess is that they are. But the question is that can they or anyone lead these nations to the goals set by the Paris Agreement. The viability of renewables as a replacement for fossil fuels and the cost that the citizens must bear are issues that the next posting will examine.
All charts courtesy of Clean Energy Wire.