As of 2022, Germany's electricity consumption presents a balanced composition of fossil and low-carbon sources, each accounting for roughly half. The country generates almost a third of its power from coal and over half from fossil fuels, with gas constituting nearly a sixth of the total. The low-carbon energy in Germany shows a promising diversity with wind, contributing over one fifth, solar at approximately a tenth, biofuels at marginally less, and nuclear at slightly over a sixth. Hydropower is a minor contributor to the country's electricity, but geothermal power is almost inconsequential. As Germany is a net exporter of electricity, its energy landscape influences not only its environmental footprint but also that of other countries it trades with.
Germany can enhance its contribution to the world's pursuit of low-carbon energy by expanding more into wind and solar power. Countries like Denmark, with their successful example of generating more than half their electricity from wind power, underline the potential of scaling up wind energy. In addition, Germany can also look into learning from countries like France, Ukraine, and Slovakia which have successfully integrated nuclear energy into their electricity generation mix, deriving respectively 61%, 58%, and 57% from this low-carbon source. Since Germany shares similar economic and technological capabilities as well as geographic and climate characteristics with these countries, practical insights and strategies can be borrowed.
The history of low-carbon electricity in Germany reflects considerable changes. From the mid-1970s to the late 80s, nuclear power witnessed continuous and significant growth in its contribution, reaching a pinnacle in 1985. This was followed by a period of consolidation with periodic modest growth until 2007. The subsequent years, however, saw a sharp decline in nuclear power, with significant setbacks in 2007, 2009, and two occasions in 2011 and 2022. Coinciding with the downturn in nuclear power, wind energy showed strong momentum from 2011 onward, with few setbacks, and along with solar power, it continues to make incremental gains in Germany's electricity generation picture.