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Report: Renewable energy sources in Germany have significantly surpassed most predictions in the past.
May 2009. Most forecasts have thus far significantly underestimated the development of renewable energy sources. This is the conclusion of a current report from the Renewable Energies Agency which compared the 50 most significant forecasts for Germany, Europe and the world with what has actually been achieved in reality. Most forecasts were clearly surpassed by the dynamic development of renewable energy sources. The report also examines predictions from politicians and associations. For example, it includes a forecast from the nuclear power forum Informationskreis Kernenergie which claimed that renewable energy sources could never cover more than 4 percent of Germany’s energy needs. In reality they already cover more than 15 percent of German power supply.
“Renewable energy sources must not be underestimated”, comments Jörg Mayer, director of the Renewable Energies Agency. According to Mayer, “Forecasts are very important for the course taken in energy policy. Whether a technology is deemed to be promising or not has an effect on investment and the level of research carried out. This also determines what type of energy supply we will have in a few years time.”
According to the report, the scenarios set out in the 1980s fail to take account of technologies which are firmly established today, such as wind power, photovoltaic technology and geothermal energy. More recent predictions are not necessarily more accurate: some of the forecast values for the year 2030 calculated on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Economics in 2005 were already surpassed just two years after the report was published.
“Forecasts are only as good as the assumptions they are based upon”, explains Jörg Mayer the false estimates of many studies. “The price of oil and gas has increased considerably faster than expected in recent decades. At the same time, the cost of renewable energy technologies has been declining. This stimulus for innovation has been underestimated time and again in the past. These mistakes must not be repeated when discussing a pretended power supply gap”.
Renewable energy sources currently cover 9.7 percent of end-use energy consumption (238 TWh). They meet 15 percent of electricity demands (91 TWh) and 8 percent of heat requirements, while biofuels provide 6 percent of the energy used in the transport sector.