New Energiewende website online
Clean Energy Wire (CLEW) is a new project aiming to communicate the Energiewende to the world. Its first dossier went online this month. It’s about time – I have been getting a bit lonesome here fending off misreports over the past few years. But that loneliness is not over yet.
My regular readers know that I spend an inordinate amount of time here and at EnergyTransition.de rebutting misleading articles from Technology Review, Forbes, the Financial Times, Der Spiegel, the Telegraph, the BBC, the Guardian, the New York Times, and Time, to mention only the posts that come to mind immediately.
The problem with these rebuttals is that they recycle each other; the same misunderstandings need rebutting over and over. My readers don’t need these issues cleared up; the readers of the other articles do. Increasingly, I therefore decline requests from readers to rebut yet another article, such as the current one in the Wall Street Journal, about which I have little to add that wasn’t already said here.
Now, CLEW has gone into business to improve the quality of media coverage. The organization is funded by Mercator, the foundation that is also behind the European Climate Foundation and Agora Energiewende. Judging from the website, which is still fairly empty, it seems they will not be publishing rebuttals, however. They will be doing something more important – trying to help foreign journalists get the story right to begin with.
As you can see from the bottom right, they organize fact-finding missions for foreign journalists. The 60-page dossier entitled “EEG 2.0 – a new legal framework for the German energy transition” (PDF) focuses on helping foreign journalists understand current policy changes. It also includes lists of key contacts within government, think tanks, and institutions.
I am confident that the organization will help foreign visitors get the story right; in the descriptions of what is going on now, the dossier gets nothing wrong.
Of course, the dossier is not exhaustive. My work isn’t either, and I produce a lot more than 60 pages. In 2013, I wrote roughly 40 articles a month here, ~480 over the year, along with 100 at Energy Transition – and that is not counting the occasional piece at places like Energy Post, Green Tech Media, etc., putting me close to 600 pieces per year, possibly equivalent to 1,000 pages. This is not including other things like my 50-minute documentary from last year or the recent 30-page paper entitled German Coal Conundrum. Almost all of this work focuses on the Energiewende, and still I can hardly keep up with events.
At the risk of seeming self-serving, I would’ve thought that the roughly 80-page PDF I co-authored with Martin Pehnt, head of the energy department at renowned German research institute IFEU, would have been worth mentioning. CLEW’s dossier is more forward-looking, but our PDF still provides the only comprehensive overview of the Energiewende in English, including the history. It could’ve been mentioned either under think tanks (Böll Foundation or IFEU), political parties (Böll is the Green Party’s think tank), or – preferably – under Key Readings.
Matthias Lang’s German Energy Blog is another indispensable source of information no journalist covering the Energiewende should be unfamiliar with. Though it does not neatly fit into the dossier’s categories (Key Readings does not include any blogs), an exception should have been made here; Lang’s blog provides quite a lot of regular coverage of current events from the perspective of a legal expert – one listed as a leading energy lawyer worldwide in Who’s Who Legal. I certainly learn a lot from Lang’s blog myself as a journalist more steeped in the Energiewende than most foreign onlookers. Most of all, his blog fills an important gap; there is no other legal expert focusing exclusively on the Energiewende with such regularity. Indeed, lawyers are generally not known for handing out their knowledge for free in this manner. We are lucky to have Lang, and his blog deserves promoting.
Strangely, the Key Readings section of the dossier includes a number of studies in German, which may be of little help to foreign visitors. Since there is so much information in German, I wondered why those particular studies were focused on and others not. There is nothing, for instance, from IFEU, which is even involved in producing the Leitstudie, essentially the roadmap for the Energiewende, and IFEU has even visualized that roadmap, as I discussed here. But when I sent an email to the contact address given in the dossier to pose my questions above, the email bounced.
CLEW has a lot of potential to perform a crucial service that no one else currently covers. Let’s hope they produce lots of material and improve the quality of others' – and get those emails working. I would love to have less material to rebut.