And how will the public benefit from the Energiewende?
The Energiewende can only be successful if it has public support – and this largely depends on energy remaining affordable for consumers. But the public will also benefit directly from the restructuring of the energy supply. Many people seek advice on how they can save the most energy at home.
People who replace an old heating system or make energy efficiency improvements benefit from low-interest loans and state funding. Those looking to rent a new apartment automatically receive information about how much energy it consumes and what this costs. And if they want to buy a new washing machine, computer or lamp, a label shows them the product’s energy efficiency rating.
The public is also involved in the traditional energy sector. Electricity and heat are not only generated by small and large energy suppliers, but also by members of the public who have their own solar panels, invest in wind farms or operate biogas plants. Many of the over 1.5 million PV systems in Germany are installed on the roofs of detached houses. Members of the public have invested in around half of the wind turbines in Germany, while almost half of all bioenergy investments are made by farmers.
Those who do not have the option of installing or financing their own renewable energy technology can join forces with other people. Around 850 energy cooperatives with a total of over 180,000 members are investing in Energiewende projects. Investments start at just 100 euros.
Moreover, when it comes to concrete aspects of the Energiewende, members of the public can have their say. For example, they can express their concerns and wishes when a new wind farm is planned in their region. The public plays an active role in the discussion on the planned transmission lines that will transport large amounts of electricity throughout Germany. Members of the public are welcome to join this discussion from the start, when the grid expansion requirements are calculated, and to share their views. They also participate in all other planning stages, including the decision on the exact route of the transmission line. In addition, they receive detailed information on the transmission line projects from the Federal Network Agency and the grid operators prior to the start of the formal procedures.
These activities are supplemented by the Power Grid Public Dialogue initiative, which has local offices and holds events for the public in the regions where expansion projects are planned. It also serves as a point of contact for all grid expansion matters. By fostering discussion at an early stage, it is easier to carry out energy projects and to increase their acceptance among the public.