The Energiewende - the Result of a Powerful Mass Movement from Below
Fifteen years ago, processes were set in motion that would turn Germany’s energy market on its head. The main catalysts: liberalization of the energy market and passage of the Renewable Energy Resources Act. Since then, Germany’s energy market has been transformed from one in which four giant utilities companies and several dozen small municipal power companies ruled the roost, to today when Germany’s decentralized energy production includes around 1.5 million mostly small and medium-sized energy producers. Nowhere is the economic impact of this metamorphosis more evident than in Bavaria where land owners and farmers have taken advantage of the new space and incentives to become “prosumers,” above all with photovoltaic and bio-energy, but also of late with wind power, too.
Josef Goeppel, 62 years old, is a German parliamentarian from central Franconia in Bavaria and a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavaria-based sister party of Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democrats (CDU). He was the first in his traditionally arch-conservative party to grasp the relevance of the Energiewende, or clean energy transition, for his constituents and party. “This happened as the result of a powerful mass movement from below,” he told Berlin-based journalist Paul Hockenos. Goeppel is one of Germany’s staunchest proponents of renewables, and as such is often at odds with his CSU colleagues and even with the Merkel government. Hockenos spoke with him in his Bundestag office in Berlin.
Paul Hockenos is a Berlin-based writer that has been covering the German energy transition for several years. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Newsweek, The Nation, Foreign Policy and Der Spiegel..