Infographics

Germany’s wind sector peaked in 2002, when roughly 3.2 gigawatts was newly installed. The market stabilized at nearly 2 gigawatts of new capacity per year for a decade, equivalent to 2.5 percent of peak demand (around 80 gigawatts).

This chart has no baseload power at all; the gray area now represents medium and peak load. Clearly, Germany will need a fleet of very exible, dispatchable power generators that can ramp up every day from around ten gigawatts to 50 gigawatts or more within just a few hours. The country does not have this much exible generating capacity at present, and all current plans for new power plants are now in question given the new market conditions of lower wholesale prices. From 2010 to 2015, wholesale power prices on the German power exchange fell by nearly half. One main reason is the rise of solar power in particular: because most of it is generated around noon time, demand for peak power at midday has been greatly o set.

On a normal business day in Germany, solar power (yellow) is produced exactly when power demand picks up. In the example above, conventional power (gray) only has to increase from around 33 gigawatts at three in the morning to around 42 gigawatts at 8 AM and again in the evening. In the middle of the day, wind power (not shown here) and solar power keep conventional plants from having to ramp up to more than 60 gigawatts, as they would have had to do 20 years ago. With additional wind electricity, even less conventional power will be needed.

In this chart based on Lead Scenario 2012, a scenario study commissioned by the Federal Ministry of the Environment, renewables would make up 85 percent of Germany’s power supply by 2050. New electricity consumers (electromobility, heat pumps and, starting in 2030, hydrogen for transportation), however, slow down the reduction in consumption.

These figures represent “gross job creation,” meaning the absolute number of jobs that have been added. A thorough study of the German market estimates a net job creation of around 80,000, rising to 100,000 – 150,000 in the period from 2020 to 2030. One reason why renewables have such a positive impact on net job creation is that renewable power directly o sets power from nuclear plants, and very few people work in those sectors