|3/12/2016 by mdc|
|Lauded by some as an example to the rest of the world, but heavily criticized by others, German historic energy transition ... an ambitious plan to switch from carbon fuels to clean energy by the middle of this century... still faces major challenges. The current administration under Chancellor Angela Merkel cannot boast that the idea of abandoning nuclear energy was its own.|
Launched in 2000, it was originally the brainchild of an earlier coalition government between the Social Democrats under Gerhard Schroeder and the environmentalist Green party. In late 2010, Merkel decided to roll back the Schroeder plans. But the March 11, 2011 earthquake and Fukushima plant damage triggered a spectacular policy U-turn where Merkel, a physicist by training, ordered the immediate shutdown of the country oldest nuclear reactors and resurrected plans for a complete phase-out by 2022.
From then on the German energy transition, under which Europes biggest economy plans to meet 80% of its power needs using renewable sources by 2050, received world attention.
Reactions abroad oscillated between an example to the rest of the world and that is not the way to do it, recalls Patrick Graichen, director of the energy thinktank Agora Energiewende. Other countries, such as neighbouring France, have since decided to emulate the German example in the development and promotion of so-called green energy.
But Germany has remained alone in wanting to abandon nuclear, said former environment minister Klaus Toepfer, now considered an authority on the subject. Merkel herself admits the energy transition is a Herculean task. There are myriad different aspects to take into consideration, from subsidizing clean energy technologies to the construction of an electricity grid connecting the wind farms on the German northern coast to the densely populated regions of the country.
In the energy sector, Germany now has to address the question of how to make do without coal....but at what cost?