21 Oct 2019, 13:15

Polls reveal citizens' support for Energiewende

The German public remains strongly in support of the transition to a low-carbon and nuclear-free economy. This factsheet provides a summary of recent polls measuring citizens' acceptance of the project. [Update adds AEE's Acceptance Survey 2019]

“Trendmonitor” from Stiebel Eltron

Last published: February 2019

Pollster: bevölkerungsrepräsentativ

This poll is based on an online survey with 1,000 participants for the 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2019 polls and 2000 for the 2015 edition. For the 2016 survey (and the following years), the phrasing of the questions changed to "I am generally content with how the Energiewende in Germany has progressed." In 2019, phrasing changed to "Germany has progressed very well with its Energiewende to date."

  2016   2017 2019
Fully agree 7.59% Fully agree  4.55% 8%
Agree somewhat 25.58% Agree 12.33% 16%
Disagree somewhat  38.13% Agree somewhat 23.15% 41%
Disagree 19.65% Disagree somewhat 33.11% 18%
Cannot rate 9.05% Disagree 15.75% 9%
    Fully disagree 11.1% 8%

Key phrasing for measuring citizens’ support for Energiewende in 2014/2015: “I am generally in favour of the principles behind the Energiewende, but the costs for private consumers are too high”

  2014 2015
Agree 85% 88%
Disagree 15% 12%

In the most recent survey, 86 percent of Germans say that independence of oil and gas imports is an important goal of the energy transition, which is a 10 percentage point increase over 2018. 91 percent of participants said climate protection by saving CO₂ is an important goal, and 81 percent say the same about exiting coal.

"Survey on climate protection and the energy transition" by energy company EnBW and newspaper Welt

Published: November 2018
Pollster: forsa

Key phrasing for measuring citizens’ support for Energiewende: “I think the continued expansion of renewable energies is...”

very important 68%
important 24%
less/not important at all 7%

Pollster forsa conducted the survey – commissioned by the energy company EnBW and the newspaper Welt – with 1007 people in October 2018. Only a minority of German citizens said they would have strong reservations about the construction of a wind turbine or a solar park in the vicinity of their place of residence, writes forsa. Respondents also said they had made personal efforts to protect the climate over the past year, such as saving energy in their homes (85 percent), or eating less meat (57 percent). forsa writes that one must bear in mind the considerable gap between the high environmental awareness of the citizens and their actual behaviour in general, so respondents’ replies might not as a rule correspond to their actions.

Find the survey details in German here.

“Acceptance Survey” (AEE)

Last published: October 2019
Pollster: YouGov for Renewable Energies Agency (AEE)

Key phrasing for measuring citizens’ support for Energiewende: “Increased use and expansion of renewable energy is…”

  2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Extremely / very important 70% 66% 70% 66% 66% 65% 72% 66%
Important 24% 27% 22% 27% 27% 30% 21% 23%
Less important / not important at all 6% 6% 7% 6% 6% 4% 6% 8%


 In 2019, the AEE's yearly representative survey was conducted by YouGov who polled 1,000 people aged 18 and over. During previous years, Kantar Emnid polled Germans aged 16 and over. The AEE adds up the categories “extremely important”, “very important” and “important” to arrive at the conclusion that “nine out of ten citizens (89%) support the increased use of renewable energy in Germany.” It also found broad support for renewable energy installations in interviewees’ direct neighbourhoods, which increased further if respondents already had experience with such installations. Only eight percent said living close to a coal-fired or nuclear station was fine. In both cases, approval rose to 29 percent among those with such plants nearby. 86 percent also said that building new transmission power lines was important or very important, though the picture was more mixed when people were asked whether they approved of transmission grid pylons in their neighbourhood.

Find the poll in German here.

"Social Sustainability Barometer" by the Institue for Advanced Sustainability Studies IASS

Published: November 2017

Pollster: forsa with IASS & RWI

Key phrasing for measuring citizens’ support for Energiewende: "Do you generally approve of the Energiewende?"

Partly agree/disagree / n.a. 9%
Disagree 3%

A vast majority of Germans broadly support the Energiewende’s aim to decarbonise the economy but a large share also says that the associated burden is not shared equally, the Social Sustainability Barometer 2017 by the Potsdam Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) says. Together with pollster forsa and the RWI Leibniz-Institute, the IASS conducted a panel survey of 7,500 households and subsequently a qualitative survey based on 50 interviews in late 2017.

Nearly 90 percent of those surveyed endorse the energy transition, but almost two thirds say costs are not fairly allocated between average wage earners, businesses and wealthy people. A clear majority of 75 percent say they want to actively take part in making the energy transition happen and renewables expansion, energy conservation, and greater energy efficiency all enjoy support by at least 80 percent of those surveyed.

“In all social groups, people have positive associations with the Energiewende, which they see as an established goal,” says Daniela Setton, researcher at the IASS. According to the IASS Barometer, “even 77 percent of climate sceptics support” the decarbonisation project. Another “surprising finding” was that support for coal phase-out now enjoyed similar support as a nuclear phase-out, with approval by 63 percent of the population. “There is even a majority in support in the lignite-mining states”, the IASS says. On the other hand, “nearly half of all Germans say the Energiewende is somewhat unfair” and costs were unevenly shared. “This is a clear signal. Energy policies should focus more on social acceptance and support for low-income households,” says Ortwin Renn, Scientific Director at the IASS.

Find a summary report of the Barometer here.

“Energiewende” by Zukunft Erdgas e.V.

Published: May 2017

Pollster: GfK

Key phrasing for measuring citizens’ support for Energiewende: “The Energiewende is an important project that I personally deem to be right.”

Fully agree 28%
Agree 27%
Agree somewhat 27%
Disagree somewhat 11%
Disagree 5%
Fully Disagree 3%

This poll is based on a survey with 977 participants, age 14 and up, surveyed in March 2017. 39 percent of respondents said they fully agreed with the statement that the costs of the energy transition were too high (24 percent agreed, 22 percent agreed somewhat), and most said that the project should be "better organised" by the government (40 percent fully agreed, 34 percent agreed and 18 percent agreed somewhat).

Online survey: "Challenges of the Energiewende" by ServiceRating, a consultancy focusing on service quality

Published: January 2017
Pollster: YouGov

Key phrasing for measuring citizens’ support for Energiewende: “In the past, energy was mainly produced in central power plants. With the Energiewende, energy is produced more and more where it is consumed (e.g. private solar panels or small combined heat and power systems). How do you rate this trend of decentralised energy supply?”

bad 3%
mediocre 12%
good 38%
very good


don't know / no answer



2066 randomly chosen people of YouGov's Panel Germany filled out the online survey between 25-28 November 2016. Results are weighted and representative of Germany's adult population. A majority of participants generally supports Germany’s increasingly decentralised energy system, one aspect of the Energiewende. To personally take part in the country's energy transition, 73 percent of respondents said they can imagine using significantly less energy and 56 percent can imagine using only energy from renewable sources. 

Find a press release on the survey results in German here.

"Public perception of the Energiewende" by the Universities of Stuttgart and Münster in cooperation with Fraunhofer ISI and ISE

Published: October 2016
Pollster: TNS Emnid

Key phrasing for measuring citizens’ support for Energiewende: “We need a resolute switch to renewable energies.”

Fully agree 33%
Agree somewhat 27%
Partly agree/disagree 23%
Disagree somewhat 13%
Fully disagree 5% *

*Numbers add up to 101%, like in the survey report.

The 2,009 telephone interviews for this survey were conducted in May and June 2015. A majority of participants generally supports Germany’s Energiewende, but there are different “acceptance groups” to be made out. 29 percent of the participants could be classified as energy transition “supporters”, 29 percent as having ambivalent opinions (“undecided”) and another 27 percent as “critics” of the Energiewende, each group with a complex set of characteristics. Four factors were central to how people viewed the energy transition and how willing they were to invest in the project: trust in actors like utilities or the federal government, benefit-risk calculations, acceptance of the relevant technology, and fairness.

Find an extensive report on the poll results in German here.

"Energy Monitor" by utility association BDEW

Published: May 2016
Forschungsgruppe Wahlen

Key phrasing for measuring citizens' support for Energiewende: "The Energiewende is..."

  2016 2015 2014 2013
Very important
57% 50% 49% 47%
Important 36% 40% 40% 43%
less important 5% 7% 10% 8%
not at all important 1% 2% 1% 1%




For this survey, 1,013 adults were interviewed in late January and early February. 67 percent of respondents also said the energy transition was advantageous to Germany as a business location. 14 percent said the Energiewende brings them personal disadvantages. More than two thirds expect electricity prices to rise if power comes from renewables. But a majority (55 percent) believe the transition to renewables is advancing too slowly, blaming politics, high costs and a blockade by the utilities for the delay. Only 8 percent said renewable development was too fast.

Find the poll in German here.

"Energy World East 2016" by regional utility enviaM

Published: April 2016
Pollster: Kompetenzzentrum Öffentliche Wirtschaft, Infrastruktur und Daseinsvorsorge e.V.

Key phrasing for measuring citizens' support for Energiewende: "Do you approve of the Energiewende and the measures connected to it?"

  Private households Municipalities Businesses
Yes 69% 70% 64%

For this poll, 1,650 households, 155 municipalities and 45 businesses in eastern Germany were asked about their views on the Energiewende. The authors say that it is the only representative survey about the Energiewende focused on East Germany. Additional questions show that 65 percent of households are dissatisfied with the implementation of the energy transition and more than 70 percent say that the cost is distributed unfairly.

Find the poll in German here.

Survey by the Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster

Published: February 2016

Key phrasing for measuring citizens' support for Energiewende: "Do you believe the decision to exit nuclear power and to move to renewable energies was the right decision from today's perspective?"

  Total North South
Yes 74% 80% 72%
No 21% 16% 23%

For this representative survey, pollster forsa interviewed 1,575 people in January 2016. 60 percent of respondents living in Northern Germany said they would prefer to use electricity produced in their region, but only 55 percent of those living in the south. 68 percent of those asked said they would agree to the construction of wind farms near their home, while 29 percent would object. People saw the construction of powerlines more critical: 52 percent said they would agree to having an overland line built near their home, while 41 percent would object.

Find the poll in German here.

“German Energy Compass” from Innovationsforum Energiewende (IG BCE)

Last published:  January 2015
Pollster: TNS Infratest for IG BCE

Key phrasing for measuring citizens’ support for Energiewende: “How do you evaluate the decision for the Energiewende from today’s perspective? Was this decision…”

  2012 2013 2014 2015
Very good / good 66% 68% 60% 57%
Moderate n.a. 21% 26% 29%
Bad / very bad n.a. 9% 11% 11%



 TNS Infratest now conducts this formerly annual poll three times per year. For the representative survey, 1,000 people aged 18 or over, as well as around 250 companies, are interviewed­­­­­­­. Its last survey revealed that people who consider themselves well-informed about the Energiewende are considerably more in favour of the project (64 percent versus the average of 57 percent). But of the total, only 19 percent were happy with the government’s current implementation of the project and only 26 percent considered companies’ efforts “very good” or “good”. Of the companies polled, 57 percent thought the Energiewende was a “very good” or “good” decision, but they were even more critical of government measures, with an approval rating of only 9 percent.

Find the poll in German here.


Published: March 2015

Key phrasing for measuring citizens’ support for Energiewende: “Which of the following statements best reflects your opinion about the Energiewende in Germany, i.e. the switch from nuclear and coal to renewable energy sources?”

I believe the Energiewende is the right strategy at this point. I also believe it is already on the right track 32%
I believe the Energiewende is the right strategy at this point. But I also believe it still requires major corrections 49%
I believe the Energiewende is the right strategy in principle, but I think it is too radical/comes too early 11%
I don’t think much of the Energiewende and believe Germany would be principally better supplied with nuclear power and/or coal-generated power 8%

More than 1,000 people aged 18 and above were polled. Business consultancy PwC added up the first three categories to arrive at its conclusion that “92 percent of Germans think (the Energiewende) was a right decision.” It also found that 95 percent of Germans do not believe an increasing supply with renewables would lead to more widespread blackouts. The most important reason given in support of the Energiewende was (only a single choice possible): The phase-out of nuclear because it is dangerous (43 percent), the switch to renewables because fossil fuels will run out (27 percent), a reduction of CO2 emissions (18 percent).


“Health Check Energiewende” from management consultancy Oliver Wyman/Technische Universität München

Published: January 2015

Key phrasing for measuring citizens’ support for Energiewende: “How do you evaluate Germany’s leading role on the issue of the Energiewende?”

Very good 14%
Good 64%
Bad 19%
Very bad 3%

In this representative survey, 1,000 households and 120 companies were polled. The consultancy added up the first two categories to arrive at the conclusion that “more than 75 percent support the Energiewende.” But half of all households did not believe the project could be brought to a successful conclusion.

See the poll in German here.

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