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Energy Efficiency in Germany - A More Complex Picture

Renewables in Europe

Energy efficiency comparisons between nations can often be challenging to do properly but various international benchmarks strive to do just that. According to the International Energy Efficiency Scorecard, produced by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Germany is tied with Italy in the top spot for overall national efficiency. Germany’s progress on the energy efficiency front has been decades in the making. The ambitious initiatives associated with the country’s “Energiewende” have propelled them forward. Though detractors say that the tremendous amount of government spending on a program of renewables and overall efficiency hasn’t driven down carbon emissions by enough, Germany is still able to claim several energy related wins, beyond its energy efficiency scorecard status.

For example, the U.S. produces 64 percent more carbon dioxide emissions per person than Germany despite the country’s dependence on coal. Of the firms that produce 98 percent of the European Union’s economic output in Germany, energy costs accounted for just 1.6 percent of the total costs of running those enterprises.

Plus, more than a third of workers in Germany’s energy sector are involved in renewable energy and bioenergy compared with fewer than 10 percent in 2000, with most of those renewable jobs paying more than energy jobs  in non-renewables or non-bioenergy.

Has all this progress cost Germany? Undoubtedly. Energiewende reforms have been subsidized through higher energy bills making them the highest in Europe. In addition, the backlash against other reliable and clean energy source such as nuclear energy will also have a detrimental effect on energy in the short term; Chancellor Merkel decided to phase out nuclear energy after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Germany still remains more dependent than one would think, and natural gas supplies soon to come in from Russia as evidenced by the Nord Stream 2 pipeline partnership. While Germany’s progress on their version of America’s “Green New Deal” has not been without major issues, other industrialized nations can learn from some of Germany’s best practices in their own quest for energy efficiency and renewable development.





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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on February 18, 2019

Germany should be commended for their leadership early on in trying to tackle these problems, and of course they're not giving up despite their difficulties, but I would say unironically they've helped almost the most by giving a roadmap for some mistakes to avoid. The decision to phaseout nuclear over the next few years will be detrimental, and the coal lobby is incredibly powerful in Germany. They'll be an interesting test case to watch, especially after they abandoned their 2020 emissions goals to focus on 2030 goals

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