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
If you are active on Twitter among the energy and climate geeks like me, you run across international coverage on Germany’s energy transition almost every day. Compare that discussion with the original domestic Energiewende debate, a big perception gap opens up. Continue Reading
The heating sector is a sleeping giant in Germany’s Energiewende. While the success of the power sector in becoming renewable has been widely recognized, the heating sector is lagging behind – leaving big potentials cut fossil fuel imports and emissions untapped. But why is that so? Continue Reading
Back in 2014 Craig Morris and I wrote a paper on the German coal conundrum. The question was whether Germany is building new coal plants to replace nuclear power despite the country’s climate ambitions. Many observers in the Anglo-Saxon world concluded so, given Germany’s nuclear policy shift in the aftermath of the Fukushima accident. But, as our report shows, the growth of renewables has more than replaced nuclear power over the past decade. Coal was not needed to implement the nuclear phaseout. And coal is not making a comeback in Germany. Continue Reading
A survey of American climate activists by Grist inspired us to conduct our own survey on the priorities of German activists. Both surveys include a dozen or so leading figures of the climate movement in each country. Before comparing the two, let’s first look at what sticks out in each country’s survey. Continue Reading