3 Renewable Energy L. & Pol'y Rev. 223 (2012)
The German Energiewende - History, Targets, Policies and Challenges

handle is hein.journals/relp2012 and id is 231 raw text is: The German Energiewende - History, Targets, Policies and Challenges 1 223

The German Energiewende -
History, Targets, Policies and Challenges
David Jacobs*
Over the past years, the German Energiewende (energy transition) has gained a lot of
attention internationally. In particular, policy makers and experts were impressed,
astounded and sometimes shocked by the rapid decision of the German government to
phase out nuclear power after the March 2011 accident in the Japanese power plants
of Fukushima Daiichi. However, the term Energiewende implies a much larger scope of
policies. With the aim to provide clarifications, this paper intends to define the term
Energiewende, explain its historical context and describe the related targets and policies.
In addition, the paper sheds light on the unique features of the German Energiewende in
comparison to energy transitions in other jurisdictions.

I. The German Energiewende -
Terminology and history
The German word Energiewende is difficult to trans-
late. The term Wende can mean turn, turnabout,
turning point, transition, etc. The most common
terms used in an English translation are energy
transition (indicating the transition from fossil
fuels to renewables) and energy turnover, energy
turnaround or energy policy u turn (indicating
the rather dramatic change in energy policy follow
ing the nuclear accident in Japan in March 2011).
But when was the actual starting point of the
Energiewende? Reading official documents from
* Dr. David Jacobs is Research Associate in the Transdisciplinary
Panel on Energy Change at the Institute of Advanced Sustainability
Studies, Potsdam (Germany). He is also lecturer for energy policy
related topics at the Freie Universitit Berlin.
1 Federal Cabinet Communication, Energiekonzept fur eine um
weltschonende, zuverlissige und bezahlbare Energieversorgung
(hereafter Federal Cabinet Energiekonzept), (Berlin, 2010).
2 Florentin Krause, Hartmut Bossel and Karl-Friedrich Muller-
Reissmann, Energiewende Wachstum und WohIstand ohne
Erddl und Uran. Oko Institute (Frankfurt: fischer verlag 1980).
The title translates as: Energiewende Economic growth and
prosperity without oil and uranium.
3 S. Jacobsson and V. Lauber, The politics and policy of energy
system transformation: Explaining German diffusion of renewable
energy technology. 34(3) Energy Policy 2006), pp. 256 276; V.
Lauber, and L. Mez, Renewable electricity policy in Germany
1974 2005, in L. Mez. (ed) Green Power Markets Support
schemes, case studies, and perspectives (Brentwood: Multi Science
Publishing 2007), pp. 177 200.

the current conservative-liberal government, one
gets the impression that the Energiewende was
initiated with the so-called Energiekonzept (energy
concept) in 2010.1 By taking a closer look at the
content of this policy concept (see below), interna
tional observers might be surprised that this policy
package actually prescribed the extension of the
existing nuclear fleet's lifetime. Therefore, the story
line seems to be a little bit more complex. Even
though the term Energiewende became the buzz
word of German energy policy in 2011, the concept
of reducing the share of fossil fuels and increasing
energy efficiency and the share of renewables has
been promoted for a long time.
The term Energiewende was first introduced
back in 198o. The research institute Oko Institut
published a book called Energiewende - Wachs-
tum und Wohlstand ohne Erd6l und Uran.2 While
the German anti-nuclear movement gained further
strength in the 198os, an increasing number of
policy initiatives for phasing out nuclear energy
and increasing the share of renewable energy tech-
nologies were started. This included rebates and
R&D programs for renewable energy technologies
and energy efficiency measures. The apparent
need to re-design the national energy policy was
further spurred by the nuclear accident in Cher-
nobyl. In the 199os, the policy mix for supporting
a more sustainable energy system was extended.
However, policies primarily focused on the support

RELP 412012

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