Energiewende: Germany’s Global Competitive Advantage

Wind Turbine in a Corn Field

By James Noble

January 29, 2015

In 2014, for the first time, renewable energy sources made the single largest contribution to the country’s power mix. This success highlighted the importance of Energiewende, the German word for the green energy revolution unfolding across the country.  

At 27.7%, renewable energy took first place in the power mix, replacing coal-fired power plants for the largest share in energy production. At the same time, energy consumption decreased by 3.8%, evidence that investments in energy-saving devices and equipment are paying off.

Because of the growth in renewables and waning demand, energy production through hard coal was reduced to its lowest level since 1990, contributing to a considerable reduction in carbon emissions for the energy sector. 

In addition, a decline in German wholesale electricity prices to a record-low of 33 Euros per mWh, has prompted neighbouring countries to buy German power, establishing yet another record in 2014 for German power exports.

Germany’s energy transition has been 15 years in the making. And, Energiewende is proving that prudent and well-planned energy and environmental policy not only reduces emissions and improves national energy security it also creates jobs and helps grow the economy.

In comparison, over the next 24 years Canadian oil sands projects are expected to receive almost half a trillion dollars in new investment. With an election looming, federal policies on energy and climate will be under intense scrutiny. Many will look to the success of Germany and renewables in general, and wonder why Canada is so focused on the oil sands, despite market volatility and the ever-present threat of climate change.