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Germany’s Energy Transition: Sunny, windy, costly and dirty

The Economist – January 18, 2014

Germany’s new “super minister” for energy and the economy has his work cut out for him

SIGMAR GABRIEL has been on a roll. The boss of Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) has herded his party into a coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel and become vice-chancellor. He is jovial, convivial and aligned with the Zeitgeist. Demonstrating the SPD’s vision of work-life balance, he plans to take Wednesday afternoons off to pick up his two-year-old daughter from her crèche.

But Mr Gabriel, who is mulling a run for chancellor in 2017, will by then be judged on a more daring project. As part of his coalition deal with Mrs Merkel, he is now a “super minister” combining two portfolios, energy and the economy. He is thus in charge of rescuing Germany’s most ambitious and risky domestic reform: the simultaneous exits from nuclear and fossil-fuel energy, collectively known as theEnergiewende, a term that means energy “turn” or “revolution”.

More a marketing slogan than a coherent policy, theEnergiewende is mainly a set of timetables for different goals. Germany’s last nuclear plant is to be switched off in 2022. The share of renewable energy from sun, wind and biomass is meant to rise to 80% of electricity production, and 60% of overall energy use, by 2050. And emissions of greenhouse gases are supposed to fall, relative to those in 1990, by 70% in 2040 and 80-95% by 2050.   Continue reading here…..

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