The German Energiewende – Opportunities and Pitfalls

Last June 5 to 10, 2014, Psychology Volunteers on Bikes External Relations Officer Monica Manluluyo attended the 2014 International Student Conference on Environment and Sustainability. The 6-day conference was held in Tongji University, Shanghai, China where experts on environment, energy, urban development and economy discussed regional and global ecological civilization and green development in the new age together with participants around the world.

Prof. Dr. Peter Hennicke is the Professor Emeritus of Bergische Universität Wuppertal and the Principal Advisor of the bigEE project. He got his PhD at the University of Bremen and his postdoctoral qualification in Economic Policy with emphasis on Energy Policy in at the University of Osnabrück. During the 2014 International Student Conference on Environment and Sustainability: Symposium on Energy Transition and Climate Change held last June 5, 2014 at Tongji University, Shanghai, China, he spoke about the Germany Energy Concept.

10432972_286043178267869_8991860702429483952_nCoal is the second most expensive and polluting source of energy after fossil fuels, and like the rest of the world, Germany used to be very dependent on coal as a source of energy. However, Germany’s subsidies of renewable energy are of reasonable range compared to other countries. In mid-August, there are days when the whole of Germany can be supported by wind (north) and solar (south) energy alone.

There are eight areas of the German Energy Concept: Political leadership, costs, intermittent power, heat and transport sector, energy (resource) efficiency, decentralization, participation and democratization, and lifestyle changes.

As of 2012, the minority path or “eco-dictatorship” of the 1980s was mainstreamed, and by 2050, they aim to reduce energy consumption by 50%, CO2 by 80%, transportation energy by 40% and building energy by 80%. The cost of turning to renewable energy sources was formerly high, but there was an observed steep degradation after a period of time. The development of this project even surpassed experts’ predictions. As such, small costs and big profits due to the decrease of cost in renewable energy is one of Germany’s 2050 goals.

One of Prof. Dr. Hennicke’s suggestions is to integrate a state of the art design in the country’s infrastructures where each building will serve as its own powerplant. With various technologies, buildings that consume large amounts of electricity will stop relying on the nationwide electric grid. Using their own resources, they may generate electricity in a more sustainable way.