The Energiewende may work in Germany – but what about countries that don’t have such a strong economy?
The Energiewende is not a luxury, but rather a project that fosters sustainable and profitable development by driving innovation, boosting growth and prosperity, and creating jobs in future growth sectors. It is therefore unsurprising that virtually every country around the world would, in principle, like to make its energy system more sustainable.
Thanks to the decline in investment costs and to lower operating costs, renewable energies are now competitive without subsidies in some parts of the world. For example, in North and South America wind farms and large solar parks supply electricity more cheaply than new fossil fuel power plants do. Countries such as China, Brazil, South Africa and India are leaders in the development of renewable energies. However, this expansion is sometimes hindered by the fact that countries subsidise fossil fuels in order to keep consumer prices low. At around 325 billion dollars per year, these subsidies are more than twice as high as funding for renewable energies. If these subsidies were used instead for programmes to improve energy efficiency, three times as much funding would be available.
As local resources, renewables reduce dependence on energy imports and exposure to volatile market prices for fossil fuels. They can also play an important role in meeting the growing energy demand in newly industrialising and developing countries, without increasing greenhouse gas emissions or polluting the local environment.
In regions with poorly developed infrastructure, where electricity has to be generated by expensive diesel generators, renewable sources are also the cheaper alternative. Solar plants and wind farms can be installed relatively quickly and need far shorter planning and construction periods than coal-fired or nuclear power plants do. In many cases, renewables give people access to electricity for the first time ever. This is another reason why many countries have set up funding programmes for renewable energy.
Germany supports sustainable, innovative and affordable energy policy worldwide; shares its experiences with the Energiewende with other countries; and works closely with its European neighbours and international partners. Germany also plays an active role in multilateral bodies and organisations. In addition, it has many bilateral energy partnerships with countries such as India, China, South Africa, Nigeria and Algeria.