Copyright: Dodge / Kinney
Energiewende – pronounced phonetically as “en-er-gee-ven-da,” is the German word for the energy transition that’s been happening in Germany for the past 25 years. This developed, industrialized country with a large export economy is successfully and aggressively transitioning away from fossil and nuclear to renewables.
In 2014, more than a quarter of all German electricity came from renewable sources. Combine all the renewable energy sources together and it’s the single largest piece of Germany’s electrical energy pie.
Renewable energy capacity has increased seven-fold since 1991 while GDP has grown 28 per cent over the same time. Greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by 22 per cent during the same period. Even more surprising Germany has relatively poor renewable energy resources. They don’t have the blazing sun and wind of the prairies or our massive hydro and biomass resources.
This rapid pace of change threatens business as usual and has attracted critics armed with arguments that aim to belittle and besmirch Germany’s energy transition.
“When I travel through Canada or the States I see a lot of information that is really, really wrong. That is just technically wrong,” says Christine Wörlen, a Berlin-based renewable energy consultant and the former head of renewable energies for the Germany Energy Agency.
“Like when you listen to Fox News saying it can only deploy so much solar power because the solar regime in Germany is so much better than the United States. That’s just you know, against the laws of physics.”
Germany is about as sunny as Alaska jokes Johannes Michael Grothoff.