Baseload power used to be a feature. But baseload turns into a bug when wind and solar are to become the main pillars of electricity supply. But the bigger story from Germany is that people want to produce their own power, as I outline in this interview with the Czech daily Hospodářské Noviny. Continue Reading
In comparison to its international peers, the German Green Party (called Alliance 90/The Greens) is considered to be influential. The party does not only have a strong record of electoral success and leaving its governance foot mark with signature policies like Germany’s nuclear phaseout. The Greens currently co-govern in 11 out of Germany’s 16 states. In my home state of Baden-Württemberg they are even the strongest party in parliament and lead the coalition. So what makes Germany’s Greens comparably successful? Continue Reading
The German Green Party has succeeded in taking over governmental responsibility in the majority of the 16 German federal states. However, in order to remain successful – also in view of the upcoming federal elections – a sober look at the factors which led to the success and which will continue to do so in the future is required. How exactly do the Greens govern? How does government participation change the decision-making processes and the political objectives of a party? How does good cooperation between those responsible in federal and state government function? Continue Reading
When my co-author Craig Morris and I started writing our book on the history of Germany’s Energiewende, we could not have known how timely it would be once published. At a time when America’s democratic institutions are being challenged by a President who cares more about tweets than security briefings more people are looking for ways to strengthen our democracies and engage those who feel left behind. Recently, pv magazine asked me why citizen ownership in energy is important and how the United States differs in that regard from Germany. Here is what I said. Continue Reading
Recently, I gave an interview to David Hunt, who is Managing Partner of hyperionsearch, Chair of the Decentralised Energy Forum, and a policy board member of the UK Renewable Energy Association (REA) and the Energy Storage Alliance. We talked about the Energiewende and energy democracy. You can read the full interview here. Continue Reading
Last week I took the Energiewende on the road along the US East Coast. Over there the Energiewende gets a lot of attention. The assumption is: If an industrial powerhouse like Germany can power its factories, heat its homes and run its trains on renewables, then basically any country can.
This only tells half of the story, though. Apart from a transition from dirty to clean technologies the Energiewende is also a story of a political transition: from a centralized, corporate dominated to a smaller, more distributed and decentralized energy system. What makes the Energiewende unique is that citizens, not big utilities, are driving this transition. It is the reason why Germany may be the only country in the world where the switch to renewables is a switch to energy democracy, as we show in our book Energy Democracy. Continue Reading
In 2011, German Chancellor Angela Merkel drew the world’s attention to Germany’s energy transition ― or Energiewende ― when she ordered the shutdown of eight nuclear reactors in the aftermath of Fukushima. But, in all of that new attention one thing about the Energiewende was sorely overlooked: its history as a grassroots movement. Continue Reading
As Germany takes on a greater global leadership role, policymakers in Washington, Brussels and beyond need to better understand Berlin’s policy decisions. With Newpolitik, the Bertelsmann Foundation North-America is offering a guidebook for anyone seeking insight on Germany’s important and changing role in the European Union and the world. This piece addresses the German energy transition and draws three central lessons. Continue Reading
Germany promises more renewables but big utilities grab more control. Driven by a long-term renewable energy policy that dates back decades and, more recently, a nuclear power phase-out, the country is spearheading a transition to renewables commonly known as the Energiewende (“energy transition”).
The transition to a low-carbon energy system can only succeed if we switch to renewable energy and energy efficiency while parting from fossil fuels. Already, the global share of renewable energy in electricity production has increased sharply. Nevertheless, many new coal power plants, anticipated to run for many decades, were connected to the grid in recent years. How do these divergent trends add up? Continue Reading