BERLIN Germany could derive all of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2050 and become the world's first major industrial nation to kick the fossil fuel habit, the Federal Environment Agency said on Wednesday.
Germany is already a global leader in renewable energy and exports green technology around the world.
It gets 16 percent of its electricity from wind, solar and other renewable sources -- triple the five percent level it had 15 years ago.
"A complete conversion to renewable energy by 2050 is possible from a technical and ecological point of view," said Jochen Flasbarth, president of the Federal Environment Agency as he presented a new study to journalists on Wednesday.
"It's a very realistic target based on technology that already exists -- it's not a pie-in-the-sky prediction," he added, saying the timetable could even be accelerated with new technology breakthroughs and a greater public acceptance.
Thanks to its Renewable Energy Act, Germany is the world leader in photovoltaics with half of the installed capacity. It expects to add more than 5,000 megawatts of photovoltaic capacity this year to a total of 14,000 megawatts.
Germany is also the world's second-biggest wind power producer after the United States. Some 300,000 renewable energy jobs have been created in Germany in the last decade.
The government has set goals of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 to 2020, and by 80 to 85 percent by 2050. That goal could be achieved if Germany switches completely to renewable sources by 2050, Flasbarth said.
About 40 percent of Germany's greenhouse gases come from electricity production, in particular coal-fired power plants.
Flasbarth said the Environment Agency's study found that switching to green electricity by 2050 would have economic advantages, especially for the vital export-oriented manufacturing industry. It would also create tens of thousands of jobs.
"The costs of a complete switch to renewables are a lot less than the costs to future generations that climate change will cause," he said.
Last month a report by the UK's Center for Alternative Technology said Britain could eliminate all its carbon emissions by 2030 by overhauling its power supply.
(Editing by Maria Golovnina)