The German Energiewende

As an early investor and significant driver of climate policy, Germany is looking back at over 30 years of its journey towards climate neutrality. But let’s take a step back and look at the big picture: What is the German Energiewende? What roles do renewables play in the power mix and how do they impact consumers, energy prices, and the domestic economy? And what needs to be done to ensure the country meets its 2045 climate neutrality target?

In our Q&A slider you will find 10 frequently asked questions and interactive charts explaining Germany’s energy transition movement.

  • Question 1

    Q1 What is the German Energiewende?

    The German energy transition, known in Germany as the Energiewende, is a long-term energy and climate strategy to move Germany towards a carbon- and nuclear-free energy system by 2045. It is a large-scale economic and ecological project motivated by scientific insights and ethical considerations with far-reaching economic and societal impacts.

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  • Question 2

    Q2 What role does renewable energy play in Germany’s power mix?

    Over the last 25 years, the German electricity mix has undergone significant diversification. Today, renewable energy – foremost wind and photovoltaic – has become the backbone of the German Energiewende and is the cheapest form of electricity generation.

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  • Question 3

    Q3 How does a renewables-based energy system impact the consumers?

    Germany began developing renewables when they were still relatively expensive, creating costs that were borne by the consumers over the past decade through a levy on electricity. However, renewables are no longer a major cost driver. Under normal circumstances, they can reduce the bills of end consumers by minimising exposure to highly volatile fossil fuel prices.

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  • Question 4

    Q4 How can Germany secure energy supply while working towards its decarbonisation goals?

    The German energy transition, known in Germany as the Energiewende, is a long-term energy and climate strategy to move Germany towards a carbon- and nuclear-free energy system by 2045. It is a large-scale economic and ecological project motivated by scientific insights and ethical considerations with far-reaching economic and societal impacts.

    more
  • Question 5

    Q5 Does the rising share of renewables in Germany lead to more imports of nuclear or coal electricity?

    Germany does not need to import nuclear or coal electricity to compensate for relying on renewables. Renewable energy sources have more than compensated for the closure of fossil and nuclear power plants. Germany has been a net power exporter since 2003.

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  • Question 6

    Q6 Do German citizens support the Energiewende?

    The German Energiewende is deeply rooted in German history and society. It emerged from public opposition to nuclear power in the 1980s and 1990s and intensified in the early 2000s due to growing concerns about climate change. Opinion polls show that German citizens remain generally positive about the energy transition. The majority are willing to bear additional costs and accept measures that make an effective contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  [...]

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  • Question 7

    Q7 How did Germany build consensus for phasing out coal by the 2030s?

    The development of renewable energy alone is not sufficient for rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Additional measures are required to actively phase down coal-fired power generation. To meet its climate targets, Germany adopted legislation in 2020 with the objective to phase out coal power by 2038. The current government vowed to end the fossil fuel era and phase out coal ideally by 2030.

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  • Question 8

    Q8 How does the energy transition affect the domestic economy as a whole?

    Germany has successfully decoupled economic growth from energy consumption. The production of low-carbon technologies and the promotion of energy efficiency have stimulated innovation, created employment opportunities, and increased local income. Overall, the energy transition continues to have a net positive effect on the German economy.

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  • Question 9

    Q9 What role does carbon pricing play in the German and European energy transition?

    Under the European Emission Trading System (EU ETS), Germany’s energy-intensive industry and energy-sector installations are charged for their CO2 emissions. In 2021, Germany also began to tax greenhouse gas emissions in the transport and building sectors, which lie outside the scope of the EU ETS.

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  • Question 10

    Q10 What’s next for Germany?

    Reaching the goal of climate neutrality by 2045 is ambitious, but achievable. It requires decisive policy action and a comprehensive mix of instruments and measures. There will be no simple "one size fits all" solution. Driving the energy transition poses a massive challenge for policymakers and administrators and will demand much from society in general. However, given the extraordinary, global task of combating climate change and leaving behind a viable planet [...]

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