“Time is pressing, because we are completely transforming our energy supply.” That’s the message from German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the country passes the one-year mark since it announced it will abandon nuclear energy and become reliant on renewable energy instead.
Since Germany passed legislation supporting that ambition, the country has fallen behind schedule as other urgent matters, among them the European financial crisis and regional elections, have dominated the political landscape. The billions of dollars it will take to revamp the national energy grid is another challenge the country faces.
Although Ms. Merkel admits that the country is indeed behind schedule, she has personally put additional energy into Germany’s goal recently, first by replacing her environmental minister. Merkel also publicly stated that she’s made the country’s energy transformation from nuclear to renewables a top priority.
Germany’s main power operation companies are working in line with the government towards the country’s goal. These companies (50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT and TransnetBW) are working together to create a plan to expand the national grid, which is estimated to cost over $25 billion.
Aside from the difficulties these operators are experiencing in financing the upgrade, they complain that the process to get governmental approval for new power lines across various states is tedious and slow. Subsidies for renewable energy in Germany were famously slashed earlier in 2012 as well, leading many companies to rush installations in order to qualify before funding disappeared.
Operators in the country are very cognizant of public opinion about renewable energy implementation, which is generally positive. But in effort to extend goodwill for example, network operators are running Internet as well as community forums to inform the public about new power mast installations across the country.
Last year, Germany generated 2o percent of its total power from clean energy sources–wind, water, solar and thermal. The country’s ultimate goal is to bring that up to 50 percent in the next twenty years.