While every aspect of Germany’s Energiewende — the transition to increasing dependence on renewables in energy supply — has been the subject of much debate both domestically and internationally, we should keep in mind that Germany is the first major industrialised country to undertake such an energy “transformation”.
At a conference in Berlin earlier this year, German foreign minister Frank Steinmeier asked what the word for Energiwende was in English or Spanish, French or Chinese? Answer: Energiewende. Point taken.As was the case with both wind and solar technologies, Germany is once again trailblazing for the rest of us. It doesn’t always get everything right the first time, and every little detail is hotly debated publicly and in depth. You have to admire the extent to which the country puts itself out there and invites criticism. But rather than being either a result of naivete or altruism, I think it is far more the result of an analysis that says that public and political support is the sine qua non for success in an endeavour with such a broad scope in a democracy; and ultimately, with most other forms of government as well.