Energy Transition, or "Energiewende," in Germany
Energiewende, or Energy Transition, is the process that has put Germany at the lead globally in the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Last month, PUSH Executive Director, Aaron Bartley, traveled to Germany to learn more from these global leaders in energy.
We asked Aaron to recall his trip for us and here’s what he had to say, in his own words.
1. It is possible for small communities to build electric generation and heat systems that are community owned, off-the-grid, 100% renewable, and cheaper than utilities. In Feldheim, we met with a community member who described partnerships with a wind entrepreneur to build dozes of turbines at the edge of town. He also partnered with other contractors to build micro-grids to fain independence from the utilities and install central heat systems for the whole town.
2. The transition to renewables relies on our ability to build a social movement rooted in Energy Democracy. In Germany, this moment came out of a crisis: the Chernobyl disaster. The entire society was affected deeply by the fear of nuclear clouds overhead. That led to social movements and mass consciousness about energy. This was important both to build the political support needed for policies and so that citizens felt connected enough to the problem and solution that they themselves wanted to play a role by investing in solar and wind.
3. The transition doesn’t come cheap. Germans pay a tax to support the transition. This makes it unpopular in some areas, but the public generally supports the energiewende because of their consciousness about climate change.
4. Clear and transparent standards are important. Practically everyone in the country knows the goals for renewable energy production and carbon reduction for 2020 and 2040.
Co-sponsored by the research institute EcoLogic and the German government, Aaron and nine others drawn from the world of think tanks, policy advocacy, and philanthropy also attended the tri-city tour of Berlin, Hamburg, and Feldheim.
This trip is particularly exciting for those of us at PUSH Buffalo and PUSH Green. We believe in giving people as much autonomy in their consumption of energy, an idea encapsulated by the Energy Democracy work we’re actively engaged in. That’s why we’re taking our necessary steps with our weatherization and energy efficiency work – to keep less dollars in your pocket, not in corporations.
While we work on this, want to get started in your own way? Call us for a free energy assessment and we’ll figure out where we can help make your home warmer and your wallet fuller.
Feldheim, Germany - 100% of renewable energy produced locally