Happy New Year! What Can We Expect of Energiewende in 2018?

Strong wind from autumn and winter storms caused wind power generation to break record again and again in the past few months across Europe. Germany harvested much from this wind blooming too: total renewable electricity generation and its share in total electricity generation both reached historical record; electricity generation from both nuclear and coal decreased, following a continuous trend since 2013.

Christmas gift to Europe: strong wind in the last week of 2017

2018 is yet another year to expect more progresses of Germany’s Energiewende. As planned retirements and mothballs take place, electricity generation from hard coal is very likely to drastically drop, while electricity from brown coal should continue to mildly decrease.

Thus, this is the very first time in history we might witness the greatest milestone of Energiewende happening in Germany, should annual total electricity generation from all renewable sources surpass that from hard and brown coal. In addition, since Grundremmingen B was shut down once and for all on 31 of Dec (“Sorry can’t celebrate new year with you!” wrote one Energiewende supporter in Taiwan on Facebook), the fall of nuclear is also almost a certainty.

There are some worrying signals, however. One reason why 2017 saw a huge boost in VRE installation was because EEG (Renewable Energy Law) has changed to favor utility scale auction from community based FIT systems. This made many projects rushed to fill in their applicant before the end of 2016, thus the bloom of installation in 2017. The new cap-and-auction system restrained the growth of VRE installation, and delaying of project realizations might cause the installation to be lower than government planned. These adversaries are just beginning to take effect, so how much they will slow the pace of Energiewende is yet to be observed.

The “power shift” from conventionals to renewables is not a phenomenon happening just in Germany. By the end of 2017, global solar capacity almost matched global nuclear capacity; this trend definitely will continue in 2018. In the US, total electricity generation from renewables is also beginning to rivalry that from nuclear; there is also of course no reason to suggest the horse race will stop in 2018. In Australia, the Tesla batteries built in less than 100 days might be the prelude to a storage bloom in 2018 (https://goo.gl/ZeVsUt).

All these predictions will probably come true by the end of 2018, and step by step the world is moving further into a new and cleaner electricity system.

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