In 2014, for the first time, renewable energy made a larger contribution to Germany’s power mix than other energy sources, including both nuclear power and fossil fuels. This success highlighted the importance of Energiewende––the German word for the green energy revolution––that has unfolded across the country in recent years. And more green energy infrastructure is in the pipeline. With a figure of 27.7 per cent, renewable energy took first place in the power mix, replacing coal-fired power plants for the largest share in energy production. At the same time, overall energy consumption decreased by 3.8 per cent, evidence that investments in energy-saving devices and equipment are paying off. Because of the growth in renewables and waning demand, energy production through hard coal combustion was reduced to its lowest level since 1990, contributing to a considerable reduction in carbon emissions for the energy sector. In addition, a decline in German wholesale electricity prices to a record-low of 33 Euros per mWh, has prompted neighbouring countries to buy German power, establishing yet another record in 2014 for German power exports.
Germany’s energy transition has been 15 years in the making and Energiewende is proving that prudent and well-planned energy and environmental policy can not only reduce emissions and improve national energy security but also create jobs and grow the economy. In comparison, over the next 24 years Canadian oil sands projects are expected to receive almost half a trillion dollars in new investment, while the industry continues to seek to construct contentious pipelines to carry oil across BC. BC is also looking to attract at least $175 billion in new investments from current leading liquefied natural gas (LNG) project proposals. With an election looming, federal policies on energy and climate will be under intense scrutiny. Many will look to the success of Germany and renewables and general, and question why Canada remains so focused on fossil-fuel exploitation, despite market volatility and the ever-present threat of climate change.
The Climate Examiner speaks to BC-based Carbon Engineering about the technology, the business and the policies that could make direct air capture, synfuels and carbon sequestration work.