Website Launch: The German Energy Transition – Arguments for a renewable energy future

December 4, 2012

Increasing storms, more wildfires, and devastating droughts: The impact of climate change is felt around the world. The U.N. climate negotiations in Doha, Qatar (COP 18) are crucial to move towards a global agreement to fight climate change. But negotiations don’t replace action on the ground. It is important that countries to decarbonizes their economies and transition to a renewable energy future.

Over the past decade, Germany has successfully boosted renewable energy resources which today power 25% of all electricity demand. According to Arne Jungjohann of the Heinrich Boell Foundation and editor of the new website, the energy transition has created more than 380,000 new jobs and empowered communities and small businesses to go renewable and become clean energy producers: “The Energiewende is a bottom up switch that is driven by citizens across the country.”

But how will Berlin move forward:  Will Germany merely import nuclear power from neighboring countries and switch to coal power? Will carbon emissions increase? Are renewables reliable enough to power an industrial economy like Germany? Can the grid handle fluctuating wind and solar power without blackouts?

“By now, the Germans have developed a can-do attitude,” says Craig Morris, one of the lead authors of the website. Morris, a Freiburg-based American journalist and translator, points out:  “Over the last two decades, renewables matured much more quickly, become more reliable and much cheaper than expected.” That is why most Germans are confident about the transition. “They perceive technical challenges like grid instability not as problem, but as a task,” says Morris.

The website not only explains the policies which have been set-up for the energy transition. It also highlights what experiences countries like the United States and China can draw from the German story. “Germany has been a leader and has driven down costs when it comes to renewable energy technologies,” explains Cao Ke of the Beijing office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation. “It will be much cheaper for other countries to invest in renewables now that the costs are lower.”

Germany is as sunny as Alaska. It will be much cheaper for the U.S. to go solar than it has been for Germany, because solar resources are much better and by now costs are much lower. “If the energy transition is doable and affordable for Germany, then it will be even more so for other countries” says Jungjohann.

www.EnergyTransition.de is the first comprehensive website to address the German energy transition in English. It has been commissioned by the Heinrich Boell Foundation. Its two authors are German researcher Martin Pehnt of Heidelberg's IFEU Institute and Craig Morris, a US-born journalist and translator who has been covering German energy policy for the past decade. The webdesign and graphics have been created by LUCID, Berlin. Dorothee Landgrebe and Arne Jungjohann of the Heinrich Boell Foundation have been the editors.

Follow news about the website on Facebook (Energy Transition) and Twitter (@EnergiewendeGER).