Note: on 15Oct13, a version of this post was run as a guest blog at GreenBuildingAdvisor.com
Der Spiegel is a weekly German news magazine whose gravitas I might have placed somewhere between Newsweek and The Economist. However, a recent cover story about Germany’s “Energiewende” did not strike me as particularly impartial or objective.
Energiewende literally translates as “Energy Turn,” but it is more typically expressed as “Energy Transition,” “Energy Transformation,” or “Energy Revolution.” The term refers to the German government’s 40-year plan to restructure its energy systems to achieve specific energy-related and carbon-reduction goals.
These goals include:
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020, and by 80 percent by 2050 (as compared to 1990 levels)
Phasing out the use of nuclear power by 2022
Reducing primary energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020, and 50 percent by 2050 (compared to 2008 levels)
Expanding the use of electric vehicles: 1 million by 2020, and 5 million by 2030
Increasing the percentage of energy from renewable sources to 18 percent by 2020 and 60 percent by 2050
A serious attempt at achieving these goals will require increasing the energy efficiency of all market sectors (housing, transportation, industry, etc.), dramatically expanding the use of renewable energy, and shifting energy-related attitudes and behaviors to a new paradigm.
One of my motivations for spending a year in Germany was to learn more about the Energiewende — to dig more deeply into the program specifics, and to find out how it is working.