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Energiewende demonstrations

Over the weekend, Energiewende demonstrations were held across the country. Contrary to reports about how Germany's energy transition is affecting power consumers, especially the poor, the demos were all in favor of the transition. In fact, there has been no demonstration against the switch to renewables yet.

Almost all of the information is available only in German, including the dedicated website, so today we wrap up the event for you in English. On Saturday, roughly 30,000 people demonstrated under the banner of "Save the Energiewende! Solar and wind instead of fracking, coal, and nuclear" all across Germany. The largest demo was probably in Hanover, where 8,000 people took part; the smallest, in Freiburg, where 1,000 people participated. Berlin was not among the venues; on May 10, a demonstration is planned in the German capital.

The main concern is that the new governing coalition's plans will slow down the transition. The proposals announced to date mainly affect wind power and biomass; the policy for solar has not changed much, aside from the unexpected application of the renewables surcharge to solar power consumed directly.

 - As this ImageQuilt of the hits for an "Energiewende demo" search at Google shows, it is hard to find evidence of public opposition to the Energiewende in Germany. Here, all of the demonstrations depicted are pro-transition.
As this ImageQuilt of the hits for an "Energiewende demo" search at Google shows, it is hard to find evidence of public opposition to the Energiewende in Germany. Here, all of the demonstrations depicted are pro-transition.
Google, various

Remarkably, the protesters do not include a defense of biomass in their main banners explicitly. The government plans to clamp down on electricity from biomass, a relatively expensive option, and the public apparently does not mind.

It is hard to prove a negative, but to my knowledge no demonstration has ever been held against the Energiewende. Though 30,000 people is not a large number when spread across the country, nor is it a significant share of the roughly 377,000 people employed in the sector according to the most recent estimate, public opinion on the Energiewende remains largely in favor. The small group of opponents limit themselves to academic studies and economic reports. They have yet to take to the streets.

Clearly, the Energiewende remains a citizen-driven movement opposed mainly by those losing out in the process: large energy providers. (Craig Morris)

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9 Comments on "Energiewende demonstrations "

  1. Todd Millions - 25.03.2014, 03:55 Uhr (Report comment)

    Drakes landing in alberta Canada has seasonal in ground heat storage.I've not personally inspected the insulation capped heat well, but I can't help but think that in areas of low water table,and good drainage such a system under the middle of row houses may be a good way to-'can' summer heat for winter.Naturally such a test would require the cooperation of the row housing residents,and so an exellent test run for group action that would further in many areas.Including above ground insulation retrofits.

  2. pat b - 25.03.2014, 01:07 Uhr (Report comment)

    I think as an outside observer that Germany is doing great, if they can keep on for a few more years and put some serious effort into storage the PV will really do a lot more. I think the new low hanging fruit for Germany is now Electric Cars. If Germany would put in L-3 Chargers nationwide and create incentives for electric cars. BMW has the i3 and i8, if Mercedes would roll out a full line of Plug in Hybrids, and if VW would track Toyota, that would be a big change driver.

  3. Thomas - 24.03.2014, 23:22 Uhr (Report comment)

    @Greg: Not exactly in that manner, but I did these once: http://i2.wp.com/cleantechnica.com/files/2013/06/Germany-FinalEnergyEmissions.jpg http://i2.wp.com/cleantechnica.com/files/2013/06/Germany-Decline-of-Fossil-Fuels1.jpg

  4. Greg - 24.03.2014, 22:37 Uhr (Report comment)

    "Since 2000 final energy consumption is down by about 100 TWh and renewables are up by about 200 TWh. Both developments are the "Energiewende". So the track record of the last 12 years of the Energiewende: Renewables & efficiency: +300 TWh Fossil energy: -150 TWh Nuclear energy: -70TWh "
    I didn't realise that these numbers were so positive.
    Thomas - have you made a chart of this already?

  5. James Wimberley - 24.03.2014, 22:22 Uhr (Report comment)

    Thanks for the reactions. I was overstating my criticisms, apart from the trade surpluses - read Krugman - though I know it's hopeless trying to convince a German audience of this. Thomas: the data do look quite a lot better in a 5-year frame than in a shorter one, which is what I was going on (see recent posts here). I made your point about solar prices myself, no disagreement there. I look forward to German Greens really going after coal.
    The autobahn speed limit is symbolic more than anything else, but it's a important symbol of selfish and reckless hedonism - and one where Germany is out of line with all the rest of Europe. It's of a piece with the timid policy support of electric vehicles and congestion taxes. The world's electric buses and taxis are not being made in Germany. But you do get a consolation teddy bear prize for unglamorous home insulation.

  6. deedl - 24.03.2014, 19:14 Uhr (Report comment)

    A speed limit will have little effect on carbon emissions. Due to the high taxation of fuel most cars on the autobahn today drive quite modest speeds. Additionally there are efforts to reduce carbon emissions for heating, there is much insulation of housing going on in Germany. So there are things happening additionally to wind and solar, but they are below the medias radar. However the antinuclear greens now, after achieving there phaseout of nuclear, turn to coal and target their efforts at replacing coal by renewables. So be patient, an energytransition is not done in a single decade.

  7. Thomas - 24.03.2014, 18:01 Uhr (Report comment)

    @James: I don't share your analysis that renewables have only replaced nuclear. Since 2000 nuclear is down by about 70 TWh and renewables are up by 110 TWh. That's not only alot more, it has also helped to push fossil generation back down from historic highs in the period of 2003-2008. Furthermore lets not forget that the "Wende" has also helped signifcantly to commercialize wind & solar and establish a growing global industry.
    Talking only about electricity when discussing the "Energiewende" is a problem for the domestic & international debate.
    If you look at the Energiewende record in terms of final energy consumption it's also a different picture. Since 2000 final energy consumption is down by about 100 TWh and renewables are up by about 200 TWh. Both developments are the "Energiewende".
    So the track record of the last 12 years of the Energiewende: Renewables & efficiency: +300 TWh Fossil energy: -150 TWh Nuclear energy: -70TWh

  8. Craig Morris - 24.03.2014, 17:36 Uhr (Report comment)

    James, largely agree with your points, except that the Energiewende has really only been expensive up to now because of solar, and that no longer applies going forwards. Otherwise, I hate to disappoint you – Germany will probably get a speed limit on the autobahn when Americans adopt gun control.
    The trade deficit is not really related to subsidies for energy-intensive industry, which is only a recent event anyway. Germany's dominance in international trade goes back for many years and is more related to the strength of its Mittelstand, something that countries like the UK, US, and France (which focus on large corporations) do not really have.
    In other words, the Germans lead in trade surpluses because they actually make things the world wants.

  9. James Wimberley - 24.03.2014, 16:33 Uhr (Report comment)

    My problem with the Energiewende is Chesterton's jibe about Christianity:"it hasn't been tried and found wanting, it's been found difficult and not tried". So far the Wende has consisted almost entirely of the replacement of retiring nuclear plants by wind and solar, with negligible net reductions in fossil generation and so carbon emissions - which for many of us is THE overriding point. German citizens are entitled to get rid of their nuclear plants if they don't like them, but that expensive preference creates no claim to outside admiration.
    The first phase of the Energiewende, the EEG regime to cross-subsidise wind and solar, has indeed brought enormous benefits to the rest of the world, by reducing solar panel and to a lesser extent wind turbine prices for everybody, down to grid or socket parity. That's a done deal. Thanks very much. Now can we please see some actual cuts in German carbon emissions? An autobahn speed limit would be a start (like everywhere else). Congestion pricing for cars in big cities (like London). Ending energy subsidies to heavy industry would be a bigger one - contrary to German myth, a structural trade surplus is not a sign of virtue but of beggar-my-neighbour selfishness. Time-of-use pricing of electricity would be a third. BTW, I'm well aware than Germany is doing much better in moving towards sustainability than Britain, and acting more decisively than France. Neither pretend their energy policy is a model for others.

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