German Electricity Production 1960-2010

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by Pawel Bartoszek

Last year, Germany announced plans to phase out its nuclear energy production by 2022. Nuclear power amounts for a fifth of Germany’s total electricity output and it has been around in the country for a while. Industrial scale production of nuclear power began in both the German states, East and West, in late 1960s. Following German unification of 1990, all the reactors in former East Germany were shut down due to safety standards. Then, following last year’s Fukushima disaster, the center-right government of Angela Merkel decided to close eight of Germany’s seventeen reactors, with the remaining ones to be phased out within a decade.

The following chart shows the history of German electricity production in the years 1960 using data from the World Bank. You can see how coal, the predominant source of electricity early on, gradually being pushed out by other sources. You can also see the steady build-up of “green energy” production. This category includes energy sources such as wind and solar power, geothermal energy, biomass and biofuel.

The goal of the Germans is for these “alternative” energy sources to replace nuclear energy in ten years’ time. The task is obviously ambitious, but note that 2011 shutdowns of Germany’s oldest reactors are not shown (since date for 2011 is not yet available). Thus, the Germans have, in fact, already advanced further on their journey than the chart shows. And, if you are patient enough, you can check back in 2023 to see if they stood up to their own challenge!

By comparison here are the analogous charts with data for China, Sweden, Iceland and the United States.

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NOTE: In case of some countries, the percentages do not always add up to full 100%. We simply display the sum of the six electricity production categories as provided by the World Bank. These are: coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric and "other renewable". Thus, energy production that does not fall into any of these six categories is not accounted for. This might for example include some electricity production methods which are not considered to be fully renewable such as pumped storage hydroelectricity and electricity from waste.

Published: 14. May. 2012