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ENERGIEWENDE: Germany’s Energy Transformation

 

1 May, 2016

Germany’s Energiewende, energy transformation, is a plan aiming to move the country's electricity generation away from both nuclear and fossil-fuel sources to renewables. This epochal transformation has made Germany a global leader in replacing nukes and fossil fuels with clean sources of energy. 

Data of renewable energy share of gross electricity consumption shows that electricity generated from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power contributed more than one quarter (27.4 %) of Germany’s gross electricity consumption, three times what it got a decade ago and more than twice what the USA gets today. The figure is estimated to reach 80% by 2050.

Overall the goal of Energiewende is ambition. Germany, the world’s fourth largest economy, wants some of the most aggressive emission cuts—by 2020, a 40 percent cut from 1990 levels, and by 2050, at least 80 percent. The Energiewende plan was dreamed up in the 1980s, became policy in 2000 and sped up after the Fukushima disaster in March 2011.  Renewable energy sources such as wind, biomass, hydropower, solar power and geothermal are to serve as an alternative to fossil fuels such as oil and coal, as these are the main contributors to the increased greenhouse effect. This policy also underlines the country’s aim to reduce energy imports to increase energy security in Germany, a country which imports two thirds of its energy.

The Energiewende also seeks to stimulate technology innovation to boost green innovations and create jobs to strengthen local economy. The key component of Energiewende is also to reduce and eliminate the risks of nuclear power.

Germany has Europe’s second highest consumer electricity prices, yet there is overwhelming public support for the Energiewende.  The public and political support for the Energiewende is so widespread that when the topic arose in debates preceding the country’s federal election in 2013, there was little argument about whether the plan should be implemented.

Rather, the talk centered on how to accomplish the goals of Energiewende. The support is rooted in an eco-friendly culture, a collective desire to abandon nuclear energy, and laws that allow citizens to profit from selling their energy to the grid.

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