Germany’s Energiewende: The Prospects of a Grand-Scale Project by Rainer Baake

Shop the Entire Current Issue- The Future of Energy  ||  Return to The Future of Energy index

Rainer Baake has held posts in the German government, including State Secretary in the Hesse Ministry of the Environment and Permanent State Secretary under Jürgen Trittin at the Federal Environment Ministry. From 2006 to 2012, Baake was Federal Executive Director of environmental organization Deutsche Umwelthilfe, where he was occupied above all with climate and energy issues. In 2012 Rainer Baake was appointed Director of Agora Energiewende.


"In Germany, the energy transition is a political, economic, and social experiment on a grand scale..."
 "What was surprising about the energiewende in Germany was Merkel’s decisive turnaround on nuclear energy after the 2011 Fukushima disaster..."
"A restructuring of the electricity market will be crucial for the success of the energiewende, and this new market must fulfill a host of requirements..."
"No model or blueprint exists for what Germany aims to accomplish; this is all new territory..."


Imagine a mid-sized country. Its population, area, and energy consumption make it a flyweight compared to the emerging giants of China and India. Unlike Russia or Brazil, it possesses virtually no fossil fuels of its own – apart from disastrously dirty lignite and some expensive-to-extract hard coal. Furthermore, this country is located in Europe, a con- tinent that has become synonymous with economic crisis and sluggish growth. Why do the energy policies of such a country – namely Germany – matter?

The reason is in its dedication to systematically transform its energy system. It is the first major industrial country to seriously consider the challenge of overcoming the entire range of problems associated with fossil and nuclear fuels – from emissions to cost, from nuclear proliferation to nucle- ar waste, from environmental devastation to health impacts.

If Germany, despite medium irradiation levels, limited land to grow biomass, and average wind and water resources, succeeds in transforming the energy system to renewable sources while maintaining system reliability and keeping an eye on cost, then every other country in the world will be able to follow on that track, too. And the challenges entailed for these countries will be significantly lower. (purchase article...)