08 Dec 2015
Sven Egenter Ruby Russell

Households' power price ignorance / A coffee with the Germans


"Only one third of households know their electricity bills exactly"

Only about one third of German households know the exact amount they pay for electricity, a survey by the German Energy Agency (DENA) showed. Nearly 30 percent answered that they had no idea how much it was exactly. In the survey of some 2,000 people, 85 percent said that they approved of the goals of the Energiewende, which include the exit from nuclear power, energy efficiency and the shift to renewable energy sources, DENA said. Nearly three quarters of the participants said they thought they could drive the Energiewende through their own behaviour.

For the DENA press release click here.

See CLEW's factsheet on what Germans pay for power here.


Süddeutsche Zeitung

“We can forget about nuclear energy”

In an interview for the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Eicke Weber, director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, dicusses the global potential for solar energy. Weber told the paper the newly formed Global Solar Council’s target of covering ten percent of the world’s electricity needs with solar by 2020 will be easy to achieve. By 2050, Weber told the paper, the world needs between 5 and 30 thousand gigawatts of solar power capacity, costing the equivalent of the global military budget for 17 years. “But unlike warplanes, the money goes to a global stimulus package,” Weber said.  His institute predicts that by 2050, the cost of photovoltaic solar power will have fallen to 2 cents per kilowatt hour, “Then we can forget everything else, even hydropower, and certainly nuclear power or nuclear fusion reactors.”

See the interview in Greman here


German Federal Environment Agency (UBA)

 “Climate impact of the German diet”

A new report on the climate impact of consumer behaviour in Germany has found that while the country's meat consumption fell between 2000 and 2013, meat exports rose considerably over the same period, according to a press release from the UBA. With one kilogram of beef resulting in 28 kilogram of greenhouse gas emissions, meat consumption, along with the transportation on non-seasonal produce and food waste, is making a significant contribution to Germany’s carbon footprint. Car ownership also continues to rise, and the growing number of Germans living alone – 40 percent of households were single-occupant in 2014 – means greater consumption of energy and resources.

See the press release in German here.


Der Spiegel

“Paris Climate Summit: Restrict!”

Writing in Der Spiegel, David Böcking says the threat of climate change requires less consumption - that we all fly less, use less heating and eat less meat. But politicians understandably won’t preach such a message or limit individual freedoms, which would be unpopular with voters. During the oil crisis in the 1970s, the German government restricted car use and today Germans are willing to undergo increased security checks because of the terrorist attacks in Paris. But climate change is seen as an abstract threat and easier to ignore. Some have argued that only authoritarian regimes have the power to stop climate change. Limiting our own consumption, Böcking therefore argues, is a defence of democracy.

See the article in German here.


Die Welt

“Tricks, emotion and bitter truths”

In an interview with Die Welt, Jürgen Trittin, a former German environment minister and veteran of international climate negotiations, gives his view of the talks in Paris. Trittin told the paper Europe had lost its leading role in the negotiations to China and the US, who are now the key players. China is now investing more than in the development of renewables than the US and Europe combined, which Trittin said was itself a success of the German Enegiewende, which drastically brought down its cost. “It is a historic achievement that German electricity consumers gave the world,” he said.

Find the interview in German here (behind a paywall).


Frankfurter Rundschau

“Guest of climate friends”

Writing in the Frankfurter Rundschau, Joachim Wille und Christian Mihatsch say that although Germany has no official role at the Paris Summit – because the EU negotiates as a single block – German officials have taken on important roles. State Secretary for the Environment Jochen Flasbarth has been mandated together with Gabon’s finance minister to find a solution on climate finance, while his boss, Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, is working with her Finish counterpart to represent the EU on differentiation. Their success will partly be down to perceptions of Germany in the negotiations, which the writers say have been boosted by the huge volumes of free coffee being distributed at the German pavilion. Everyone likes to come by for a “coffee with the Germans” the article says. 


Lausitzer Rundschau

"Vattenfall leaves stage of German Energiewende theatre"

The German government must support regions such as East German mining area Lusatia that are suffering the consequences of federal energy policy, the head of Vattenfall's Europe Mining and Europe Generation, Hartmuth Zeiß, told a traditional miners’ convention, according to the Lausitzer Rundschau.
Zeiß compared the Energiewende with a theatre play that made the whole of Germany a stage, with an “uncountable number of directors, changing dramaturgy and permanently new directions for the actors”, the paper reports. The government had to help the region with “clear directions and concrete support”, Zeiß was quoted. What would happen with the open-cast mines after Vattenfall’s planned sale was down to the new owner, Zeiß said.

For a factsheet on Vattenfall’s German assets click.

Find the article in German here (behind a paywall).


New York Times

“Change Isn’t as Easy as a Flip of a Switch”

Writing in the New York Times, Maggie Koerth-Baker says the experience of Germany’s Energiewende shows that switching to renewable power production “isn’t just about building wind farms and installing photovoltaic panels,” but requires careful planning to integrate the fluctuating power into the grid, as well as consideration of political, cultural and economic implications. 9 percent of the country’s power came from wind last year, but while the government policies have encouraged the growth of renewable generation, she quotes Dolf Gielen, director of innovation and technology for the International Renewable Energy Agency, as saying that long-term planning for grid investment to distribute that power to where its needed is much more difficult.

See the article in English here.

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