Fossil fuels such as petroleum, coal and natural gas have played a significant role in the advancement of the human society. With the inching threat of fossil fuel depletion and concerns over energy security and the environment, renewable energy has become a much discussed issue in the making of government policies in areas ranging from politics and economy to environmental protection and technology.
Germany, among the twenty-seven European Union member states, has delivered the most outstanding result in the development of renewable energy. Driven by lessons learnt from the oil crisis and the Chernobyl nuclear accident along with the rising awareness of environmental protection among the German people, the German government has spared no effort to restructure the country’s energy sources and develop alternative energies. In 2000, the Renewable Energy Sources Act (Ernererbare-Energie-Gesetz, EEG) was passed, in which the country’s energy and carbon reduction goal is set – renewable energy should account for half of the total energy consumption by 2050. In 2010, Germany’s renewable energy share in energy consumption reached 9.4%, a figure second to no other EU member states. Germany’s wind and solar power generation have also experienced significant growth on account of generous support from the government and industries. This has endowed the country’s wind-power related industries with a competitive edge which has been utilized to help Germany become the world’s largest wind-power product producer, with a global market share of 46%.
Over the past forty years, Germany has written many success stories in the development of renewable energies including hydropower, wind power, solar power, biomass and geothermal power. Germany has formulated a complete and well-structured legal system for renewable energy and has become a model of success sought after by many fellow countries. With a sound business environment for renewable energy, the sector has been thriving and prospering and has come to become one of the strengths of Germany’s export, creating a large number of job and business opportunities. As a result, Germany has successfully rid itself off the dependence on imported energy and safeguarded its national energy security. This development not only meets the German people’s call for environmental protection but also serves as a symbol of the country’s effort to shoulder its share of responsibility outlined in the Kyoto Protocol. Using Germany’s renewable energy development as an example, this paper aims to shed some light on Taiwan’s planning of renewable energy and to provide localized suggestions based on the island’s unique political and environmental biology.