NewEnergyNews: Energy Transition Lessons From Germany

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    Friday, June 04, 2021

    Energy Transition Lessons From Germany

    What Germany Can Teach America About Renewable Energy Bringing energiewende across the Pacific—this time with nuclear in the mix.

    Jake Dean, May 31, 2021 (Slate)

    “…[Over the past two decades, Germany] has embarked on a remarkable, expensive transition from coal and nuclear energy, to renewable energy sources. The set of policies to encourage this rise of green energy is known as energiewende…[A central component of German energiewendem is] a feed-in-tariff to promote less developed renewable technologies…It works through phase-out subsidies…[Over time the per-kilowatt-hour FIT would decrease] to provide a market incentive for efficiency and market competitiveness…FITs work most efficiently if they subsidize early-stage renewable energy generation sources…Germany has spent tens of billions of dollars a year across energiewende policies…[It is not cheap and the average price of electricity for Germans doubled between 2000 and 2019, with a price about 2.5 times higher per kilowatt-hour than the U.S., but it is] cheaper than the massive economic impacts of climate change…

    ...[I]n 1991 the German government established a surcharge on electricity usage…It is the type of innovative and forward-thinking policy that is necessary to guide the world through the growing climate change crisis…Even through the pandemic, Germany was largely able to continue its investments in renewable energy by emphasizing low-carbon technology in its pandemic stimulus. This included billions for public transit development and aid for electric vehicles, as well as more spending on renewable infrastructure…

    Germany’s renewable energy production has skyrocketed over the past two decades. In 2020, renewable sources met 46.3 percent of Germany’s power consumption…and it has created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the renewable sector. Many in the country are urging their government to go even further by eliminating all fossil fuel investment…To do that, however, renewables need to become fully competitive and reliable in the German energy market…

    ...[E]nergiewende is not without its downsides. Energy costs remain higher in Germany than other similarly developed nations due to the tax on electricity consumption…But this both reflects the negative externalities of energy production and encourages consumers to use energy more efficiently…[But the] scheduled shut-down of all six remaining nuclear plants (an additional 26 are already undergoing decommissioning) by 2022 is causing fear that the country will have to rely on more fossil fuels until renewables are able to pick up the slack. Which could be awhile, seeing as nuclear still represented 11.4 percent of Germany’s energy mix in 2020…” click here for more

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