Key Findings

The German Energiewende is broader than often discussed.

Germany’s Energiewende is not only about switching from nuclear and coal to renewables in the electricity sector. Electricity only makes up roughly 20 percent of German energy demand, with roughly 40 percent devoted to heat and 40 percent to transportation. Most public attention has focused on the power sector, the nuclear phase-out and the switch to wind power and solar power. In fact, Germany is a leader in highly efficient building technologies as well, such as "passive houses," which make heating systems in homes largely redundant, as well as efficient electrical household appliances or industrial equipment. Unfortunately, however, housing renovation rates are too low for the tremendous efficiency gains from energetic renovation to be fully effective. Germany has not expanded its district heating networks, which generate waste heat from power generators or from large solar thermal collector fields. Perhaps the greatest challenges lie in the transportation sector, where a number of options are being looked into worldwide – from electric mobility to hybrid vehicles. Germany's car industry is not yet a leader in these technologies. But the greatest efficiency gains will come about when we switch from individual mobility to public transport – and from large cars to small vehicles.