By 2050, we aim to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 80–95% compared to 1990. At least 80% of our electricity will come from renewable energies. We want to power our economy in a sustainable way. This requires a major transition: the so-called “Energiewende” — Dr Barbara Hendricks, German Federal Minister for the Environment
Image: © Thomas Trutschel/photothek.net
The energy transition is Germany’s path to a secure, environment-friendly and economically successful future. It represents the decision to fully overhaul the country’s energy supply, moving away from fossil fuels and nuclear energy in favour of renewable energy sources. The aim is that by 2030, around 50 per cent of Germany’s energy supply will be provided by renewable energies. At the same time, the plan is to enhance energy efficiency. This makes Germany a leading nation in the fight against climate change.
Germany’s energy revolution has made it a leader in replacing nuclear energy and fossil fuels with wind and solar technology. In 2015, renewables already generated 30 per cent of the country’s electricity.
FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE One major aim is to decarbonise the energy supply by switching to renewable sources and reducing demand by means of greater efficiency.
DECREASING ENERGY IMPORTS AND INCREASING ENERGY SECURITY Germany imports two thirds of its energy. Renewables reduce its dependency on energy imports, making it less vulnerable to fluctuating fossil fuel prices and to political influence from abroad. Improving energy efficiency also helps to reduce oil and gas imports, thereby increasing energy security.
STIMULATING INNOVATION, GROWTH AND EMPLOYMENT The energy transition boosts green innovations, creates jobs and helps Germany position itself as an exporter of green technologies.
REDUCING AND ELIMINATING THE RISKS OF NUCLEAR POWER Germany plans to phase out nuclear power by 2022 due to the risks and costs involved, and the waste issue.
STRENGTHENING REGIONAL ECONOMIES Local ownership of renewables provides economic payback to communities.
Watch “The Energiewende: Switch to the Future”
Video courtesy: Federal Republic of Germany Foreign Office
The business park, community centre and solar settlement are self-sustaining areas in Freiburg
This city of about 220,000 people is located in the southwest corner of Germany, at the edge of the Black Forest. Its uniqueness: it is equipped to run solely on solar energy. There are approximately 400 photovoltaic installations on both public and private buildings. As a result, Freiburg produces four times the energy it consumes and nearly as much solar power as the whole of Britain!
Photo: ©Wunderland Kalkar
The climbing wall outside the former cooling tower
The nuclear power plant at Kalkar, north of Düsseldorf, was completed just before the 1986 explosion at Chernobyl; therefore, for safety reasons it was never used. Then came the novel idea to transform the area, which is as big as 80 soccer fields, into a family amusement park. There is a ride in what would have been the cooling tower. Every year, around 600,000 visitors have fun at this abandoned nuclear power plant.
- The German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) has served as a role model for policies in more than 50 countries. (Deutsche Bank Research)
- In 2007, the use of renewable energy in Germany prevented the release of about 115 million tons of climate-damaging CO2. (BMUB)
- In 2012, 7.6 gigawatts of photovoltaic panels were installed in Germany—the equivalent, when the sun is shining, of seven nuclear plants. (Reuters)