Germany has become the latest country to signal that it could decarbonise its electricity network with the release of a major new report arguing that it could switch to an entirely renewable energy supply by 2050.
The study, from Germany's Federal Environment Agency, the Umweltbundesamt, says the country could phase out fossil fuel power plants and replace them with existing renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines and solar panels.
"A complete conversion to renewable energy by 2050 is possible from a technical and ecological point of view," Jochen Flasbarth, president of the Federal Environment Agency, told reporters yesterday. "It's a very realistic target based on technology that already exists – it's not a pie-in-the-sky prediction."
He added that there was a strong economic case for making the switch, arguing that it would create jobs and boost exports of renewable energy technologies for German manufacturing firms.
Germany's transition towards renewable energy is already under way, with the country well established as the world's largest generator of solar energy and second-largest producer of wind energy after the US.
According to figures from the German government, the country already generates 16 per cent of its energy from renewable sources and further increases in renewable capacity are planned over the next decade as the government moves to make good on its pledge to cut carbon emissions by 40 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020.