The Energiewende may work in Germany – but what about countries that don’t have such a strong economy?
The prices of innovative renewables technologies, such as wind and solar, have fallen sharply worldwide in recent years. Investments in research and development at an early stage, as well as funding to help renewable energy gain a foothold in the market in various industrialised countries, particularly in Germany, had a significant impact on the drop in prices.
More than 160countries want to develop renewable energy
Countries with renewables policies and targets
Thanks to the decline in investment costs and to lower operating costs, renewable sources 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 energy. However, this expansion is sometimes hindered by the fact that countries subsidise fossil fuels in order to keep consumer prices low. At around 550 million dollars per year, these subsidies are four times higher than funding for renewables. If these subsidies were used instead for programmes to improve energy efficiency, five 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.
Where are the most renewable energy plants worldwide?
Power-generating plant capacity as of December 2014
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, Morocco, Nigeria and Algeria.