There's a great deal of misinformation out there about Germany's ongoing transformation from a fossil-fuel-dominated power sector to one that's increasingly clean, green and renewable. For instance, as Solar Energy Industries Association President Rhone Resch explains at EcoWatch, the anti-solar-power Edison Electric Institute recently commissioned a "hatchet job on renewables" that, among other problems, makes "no mention of the enormous societal costs of the damaging pollution which is caused by burning fossil fuels and undeniably driving climate change."
In stark contrast, a new study by the respected Brattle Group found that "[b]y and large, the German path has been remarkably successful, given the goal—shared by a great majority of the population—of ‘de-fossilizing’ Germany’s electricity sector." A few key findings from this report are as follows:
- Sharp increases in clean energy: "Germany’s renewable energy and solar PV support programs have led to Germany increasing the share of solar PV and wind in its energy mix significantly, putting the country on a path towards a broadly supported transition towards an electricity system primarily powered by renewable energy."
- Support levels in line with other forms of energy: "This transition involved new technologies, and as was the case for previous (and now conventional) forms of energy, the development of these technologies required public support – the levels of which are in line with cumulative levels previously provided to other forms of energy."
- German economy continues to hum along: "The total level of support has remained low enough that Germany’s economy has continued to perform well – in part due to the (partial) exemption of certain industries, which, while unpopular, is likely a reasonable measure to assure that German companies in energy –intensive and trade-exposed sectors do not suffer an unfair disadvantage."
- Significant but largely unquantified national security and economic benefits. "As the recent Ukraine crisis has shown, the transition has also helped reduce the exposure of Germany to potentially volatile input prices to the traditional power system, a benefit that has largely remained unquantified, but could prove significant in the future."
The key here is for other countries to take Germany's experiences - good, mixed, could be better - as an opportunity for transitioning to clean energy and "de-fossilize" even faster and cheaper moving forward than Germany has managed to date.