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Germany has recently announced that it intends to move its energy production to 100% renewable sources by 2035 (as reported e.g. by Reuters). This seems to include phasing out both power plants reliant on fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) and nuclear reactors. According to my understanding, most of the renewable sources of energy are somewhat unstable and require being backed up either by conventional power plants or by energy storage with sufficient capacity. Since the technology for large-scale grid energy storage is still in relative infancy, it would seem that Germany's plan may be challenging or even impossible to implement in practice. I was wondering if any of the German politicians laid out concrete steps to achieve the proclaimed goal or at least explained why the government considers it realistic.

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    Note: energy is not just electricity. Converting 100% of electricity to renewables is, sadly, only solving 20% of the problem. A lot of fossil fuels are used directly for heating, transport, agricultural or industrial processes, without converting to electricity first. Reuters headline is wrong. Apr 7, 2022 at 9:09
  • I'm not convinced storage is the ultimate solution considering the high cost. What if they simply build 2-3x as many wind turbines and solar as needed so that even on cloudy days with minimal wind, there is enough energy without turning to non-renewable sources. Apr 8, 2022 at 19:41

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Here is their official statement, which puts emphasis on solar and wind. So how to store that?

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    @EricDuminil A simple tax on usage of non renewables should do the trick. Not sure why the German government not simply goes for this. Apr 7, 2022 at 10:00
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    @EricDuminil Not so easy to tell ppl to conserve electricity if you try to boost battery-electrical car sales by paying several thousands of EUR as a bonus to buyers.
    – arne
    Apr 7, 2022 at 12:29
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    @Trilarion Germany already has the second-highest tax wedge in the OECD. At his point, how does adding yet another tax solve anything? But even if it would only be an incentive for the switch, it would still increase prices, with inflation already being record high and economic hardship growing. Arguably, Germany is so docile because it has a very high standard of living. God help us all should that change for the worse drastically.
    – Riwen
    Apr 7, 2022 at 12:30
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    @Graham Nonsense! Free-market capitalism's big advantage is that it is able to convert long-term choices into a series of short-term ones by using stock exchanges. Your company might make more money this year if it burns tax-expensive fuel than if it buys a solar panel array, but it'll still be doing it at the end of the year, so its stock price will be lower in expectation of lower future earnings because it'll have to keep paying that and the tax will only increase. Apr 7, 2022 at 17:36
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    This clarifies a possible reasoning behind the policy, although it still seems dubious whether the proposed solutions for energy storage are sufficiently scalable. With power-to-gas-to-power efficiency of only up to 40% (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhydene.2021.06.218), hydrogen storage does not currently seem to be a very viable (or ecological) way to store energy at scale. Pumped storage plants achieve a bit higher efficiency (~75%), but their widespread usage is greatly limited by the type of terrain required for their construction
    – Magma
    Apr 7, 2022 at 20:52
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tl;dr: Germany doesn't plan to reach 100% renewable energy sources -- a February draft called for a 100% renewable electricity sector by 2035, but as of April even this goal is unclear.

The Reuters article in the question, "Germany aims to get 100% of energy from renewable sources by 2035" is dated February 28, 2022 and was based on "a government draft paper obtained by Reuters on Monday." In contrast to the headline, the article indicated that only the electricity sector was included in the 100% target.

The article goes on to say that

the corresponding amendment to the country's Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) is ready and the share of wind or solar power should reach 80% by 2030.

A more recent article discussing the EEG act confirms this 80% by 2030 target. From an April 6, 2022 article "Germany unveils plans to accelerate green energy expansion":

Germany's economy and climate ministry presented a package of measures on Wednesday to speed up the expansion of renewable energy [...]

The package envisages green energy accounting for 80% of the power mix in Europe's biggest economy by 2030, up from about 40% now and a previous target of 65%.

No mention is made of a 100% renewable target in this more recent coverage.

As the legislation isn't finalized yet it's unclear how Germany plans to accomplish either goal, but it looks like a combination of offshore wind and energy efficiency are expected to be key components (emphasis added):

The country's Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) also includes a goal for offshore wind energy to reach at least 30 GW by 2030 - equivalent to the capacity of 10 nuclear plants - and at least 70 GW by 2045, the sources added.

Further legislative changes are expected during the year, in particular regarding energy efficiency in buildings and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector.

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    "a February draft called for a 100% renewable electricity sector" excellent point and an important distinction, especially with respect to natural gas use for space and water heating purposes, and vehicles.
    – ohwilleke
    Apr 7, 2022 at 21:38
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Seems rather extremely unlikely this can happen. Considering with nuclear, Germany is roughly 3000terawatts hours away from achieving 100%.

For solar at current best case 210Wm^2, using 50% of the published 1631 solar hours in 2021, 17.5 billion square meters of solar panels beyond the current. Or a space 132 kilometers square.

Not sure of the reasons for going renewable, but if climate were the concerns, there's going to be an excess in absorption in thermal energy by these panels to the tune of 7terawatts above normal land below the panels which then will become part of the ecosphere.

Now all this is at lossless transfer, but the primary point is that at peak use , winter , solar and wind are at minimum output. So then comes storage. You would need roughly half of the yearly energy budget stored. So a 1500terawatt hour battery. Not going to bother, it would be the modt ecologically disastrous potential on the planet.

In other words, this mandate is not going to happen, or its a death wish by , well someone, for the German people.

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    The question is how Germany plans to reach the goal, and you haven't actually addressed that. It may well be that their goal is unattainable, or that their plan is unworkable, but you haven't actually said what their plan is. You're instead critiquing a plan entirely of your own speculation.
    – F1Krazy
    Apr 8, 2022 at 9:49

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