15 May 2020, 00:00

A (very) brief timeline of Germany's Energiewende

In 2014, the Green Party's Julia Verlinden asked the federal government for its definition of a starting date for the "Energiewende". In his reply, parliamentary state secretary in the economy ministry Uwe Beckmeyer argued that the transition to an energy supply based mostly on renewables was a continuous process, because it was impossible to speak of any "concrete starting date". The following timeline provides a short overview of key events, developments, movements and documents, in the history of that process. [Updates to May 2020]

For a more in-depth timeline see the CLEW factsheet Milestones of the German Energiewende.

For an interactive timeline with additional documents visit Carbon Brief’s Timeline: The past, present and future of Germany’s Energiewende.



“Nuclear Energy? No, thanks!” Birth of Germany’s anti-nuclear movement as protestors block construction of a nuclear power plant in Wyhl, close to Germany’s border with France



Enter the Greens Germany’s Green Party is founded, with an exit from nuclear energy and a renewable future as key demands

Activists and politicians begin to use the term “Energiewende



The Green Party enters the Bundestag for the first time



Chernobyl disaster The accident solidifies Germans’ resistance to nuclear energy

Climate change The weekly Spiegel magazine publishes a cover story on global warming, prompting parliament to establish an advisory council to address concerns about climate change



Nuclear phase-out #0 For economic and security reasons, the GDR’s only two nuclear power plants are switched off with the reunification of Germany

Ambitious targets Federal Cabinet adopts its first emissions reduction target: 25 to 30 percent fewer CO₂ emissions by 2005, compared to 1987 levels



Kick-starting renewables New legislation introduces feed-in tariffs for renewable power



Kyoto Protocol New agreement requires Germany – the world’s sixth largest emitter at the time – to cut CO2 emissions



Renewable Energy ActThe Renewable Energy Act (EEG) stipulates fixed feed-in tariffs and grid priority for renewables

Nuclear phase-out #1 Red-Green government reaches “nuclear consensus” with utilities: a phase-out by around 2022



EU targets EU sets 2020 climate targets: 20 percent of electricity to come from renewables; a 20 percent cut in greenhouse gases; 20 percent more efficiency



Extending nuclear The CDU (conservative) government reverses the “nuclear consensus” by cancelling the phase-out

Energy concept The government sets out climate and renewables targets for 2020 and 2050



Nuclear phase-out #2 Following the Fukushima disaster, Merkel announces new nuclear phase-out by 2022, with backing of large parliamentary majority



New EEG & climate action Government lowers feed-in tariffs, introduces auction system for PV capacity

Climate Action Programme 2020 Government introduces catalogue of measures to reach climate targets



Slow progress The Energiewende monitoring report shows that climate targets are “in serious danger”; 2020 emission reduction target likely to be “missed considerably”



Utility spin-offs Utilities E.ON and RWE separate renewables from fossil operations

Decarbonisation Federal government agrees on its Climate Action Plan 2050, a basic framework for largely decarbonising Germany’s economy to reach 2050 climate goals. It includes target corridors for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in individual economic sectors

Car emissions scandal In wake of Dieselgate, German carmakers step up e-mobility ambitions



Renewables reform The switch from set feed-in tariffs to auctions for renewables enters into force

G20 Chancellor Merkel helps close rank of 19 governments in support of Paris Climate Agreement, isolating the US

COP23 UN climate conference in Bonn: delegations negotiate rulebook for Paris Agreement



New government Renewed grand coalition gives up on 2020 climate targets, raises renewables expansion goal, announces Climate Protection Law

Diesel bans In major blow to German carmakers, top court ruling opens door for diesel driving bans

Coal exit commission Renewables overtake coal as Germany’s most important power source, while government sets up multi-stakeholder task force to decide on country’s coal exit path by end of 2018

Utilities shakeup RWE and E .ON split up utility innogy, separating grids from generation



Climate action package Climate cabinet presents major policy package including national CO2 price for transport & buildings

Climate action law Germany’s first climate law makes emissions reduction legally binding



Coal exit law Cabinet adopts coal exit law including timetable

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.


Researching a story? Drop CLEW a line or give us a call for background material and contacts.

Get support

+49 30 62858 497

Journalism for the energy transition

Get our Newsletter
Join our Network
Find an interviewee