To be blunt, Germany is the world's energy production guinea pig. For the past few years, Germany has been making drastic moves in the name of progress, self-sufficency and the environment.
For one, they began to close their nuclear power facilities following the Fukushima disaster, even though it accounted for a quarter of its power production. All nuclear facilities are planned to be closed by 2022.
Around the same time, Merkel and Co. passed legislation that would cause the country to generate a third of its power through renewable sources in the next ten years, that figure jumping to 80 percent by 2050, reports the AP.
And now, they have released figures that support these broad and optimistic claims. Germany's energy industry association, BDEW, released figures detailing a production of 67.9 billion kilowatt hours of renewable energy for the first half of 2012, reports Reuters. This output represents a 19.5 percent increase from the same time frame in 2011.
More telling is this: renewables now comprise 25 percent of Germany's total energy production, a 4 percent increase from last year . The largest renewable source is wind energy, accounting for 9.2 percent of all energy production.
In addition, solar energy saw an increase of 47 percent increase from last year, coming in at 5.3 percent of all power production. Germany is the world's largest producer of solar power, its "installed capacity" representing more than a third of the world's total, reports Reuters.
While the newly released statistics validate Germany as the most progressive energy producing nation in the world, their bold moves and subsequent successes are becoming old news. So why can't nations like America, which consumes the second most energy in the world (China is first), learn and adapt accordingly?
If you have an answer, let us know because we certainly don't. All we know is that in 2011, America produced 77.6 percent of its power from fossil fuels and 10.6 percent from nuclear power plants. Only 11.8 percent was from renewables and of these, hydro-electric power represented 4 percent, wind 1.5 percent, and solar only 0.2 percent, according to a 2011 report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The sun doesn't seem to shine any more on Germany than on America, and our extensive coast seems to provide ample opportunity for wind power. Maybe, in the end, the answer is in the people. In Germany, a typical family of four pays about 157€ ($205) annually to support research, investment, and government subsidies for production and development, according to the AP.
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