Why the Energiewende

Stimulating technology innovation and the green economy

The energy transition boosts green innovations, creates jobs, and helps Germany position itself as an exporter of green technologies.

Germany is an export-based economy and is positioning itself as an innovator in green technologies. The German Solar Energy Association (BSW) estimates that exports made up 65 percent of German PV production in 2013, up from 55 percent in 2011 and 14 percent in 2004 – and the target is 80 percent for 2020. The German Wind Energy Association (BWE) puts the wind industry's current export ratio at 65 to 70 percent.

The market for products that increase energy efficiency is already significant, which is especially important, because this market will only continue to grow, similar to the market for renewables. Germany is a major player on both of these markets.

A study conducted by corporate consulting firm Roland Berger found that the market for energy efficiency products will continue to grow rapidly, doubling in volume from 2005 (450 billion euros) to 2020. Not surprisingly, a lot is being invested in development in this sector, where Germany makes up the second largest share of the pie at 20 percent, behind the US at 24 percent.

In particular, midsize firms are benefiting from the growing demand for energy efficiency products and applications, with more than half of the sales revenue from environmental protection goods (of which energy efficiency is a subcategory) being posted by firms with fewer than 250 employees.

A strong position in local and global green technology markets creates jobs. In Germany, roughly 355,000 people already worked in the renewables sector in 2014, down from a peak of 380.000 in 2011 mainly due to layoffs in the solar sector. In 2015, the German Ministry for Energy and Economic Affairs estimated that the net number of additional jobs brought about by renewables would reach 100,000 by the year 2030 and 230,000 by 2050.

Renewables create more jobs than coal power does

These figures represent “gross job creation,” meaning the absolute number of jobs that have been added. A thorough study of the German market estimates a net job creation of around 80,000, rising to 100,000 – 150,000 in the period from 2020 to 2030. One reason why renewables have such a positive impact on net job creation is that renewable power directly o sets power from nuclear plants, and very few people work in those sectors