Energy Transition Archive

Energy Transition Archive

With or without the Paris Agreement –Trump won’t have the Last Word on US Climate Policy

With states, cities, and citizens willing to double down and move ahead with climate commitments, the global community can still count on many Americans’ willingness to act responsibly in support of global climate actions, even if their White House is not. Unfortunately, such activism will not make up for the failure of the Trump administration to make good on its international climate finance obligation.

By Liane Schalatek, Nora Löhle

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2016

In addition to the usual, global overview of status and trends in reactor building and operating, as well as the traditional comparison between deployment trend in the nuclear power and renewable energy sectors, the 2016 edition of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR) provides an assessment of the trends of the economic health of some of the major players in the industry.

By Mycle Schneider

South Africa’s Changing Energy Landscape

South Africa shows how quickly an energy transition can be. In four years, with coal and nuclear power stations on hold, South Africa's  renewable energy program has nearly 100 plants in development.

By Leonie Joubert

Is Policy on Track for an Energiewende in Japan?

The Fukushima nuclear disaster put Japanese nuclear power on hold. In the five years since, Japan's policies have ushered in renewable energy, but continued coal expansion remains likely.

By Kimiko Hirata

Building Political Support for a Clean Energy Transition — How Arguments on Solar Power Affect Public Support in Germany and the US


The growing clean energy transition and its emerging decentralized actors threaten the traditional business model of large utilities, contributing to a deadlock around laws, regulations, and political support. Solar advocates in Germany and the US can learn from each other’s successes and setbacks in building public support and help pave the way for a “green dream” to become a nonpartisan reality.

Nuclear energy in Ukraine 30 Years after Chernobyl

Thirty years after the biggest nuclear disaster at Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Ukraine is still seriously dependent on nuclear energy. It is high time for Ukraine to take the path of nuclear phase-out.

By Iryna Holovko

The global energy revolution

The transition to a low-carbon energy system can only succeed if we switch to renewable energy and energy efficiency while parting from fossil fuels. Already, the global share of renewable energy in electricity production has increased sharply. Nevertheless, many new coal power plants, anticipated to run for many decades, were connected to the grid in recent years. How do these divergent trends add up? 

By Arne Jungjohann

Coal Atlas: Facts and figures on a fossil fuel

Coal contributes more to climate change than any other energy source. It is therefore of utmost importance that the world finds ways by which to tame King Coal, especially as international climate negotiations get underway in Paris later this month. The Coal Atlas - a joint publication by the Heinrich Boell Foundation and Friends of the Earth International - highlights new facts and figures on the state of the global coal industry. 

Germany: A Turnaround Yet to Turn

Germany is phasing out nuclear power and has come to rely more on coal for its electricity. Despite a steep rise in renewable energy, the use of coal is endangering Germany’s ambitious target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

By Eva Mahnke

An Energy Superpower Heads to the Polls

As the fifth largest oil producer in the world, Canada's domestic and foreign policy is shaped considerably by energy and resource issues. In the nine years under the Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Canada has focused primarily on its oil industry and on strengthening its position as an energy power – without regard for the environment and local populations. In that context, the Harper government presented economic growth as being dependent on an aggressive expansion of the energy sector. However, that line of reasoning is now losing its force.

By Rebecca Bertram

Driving Regional Cooperation Forward in the 2030 Renewable Energy Framework


The European Commission, the European Council, and the European Parliament have all repeatedly called for more regional cooperation in the context of the 2030 climate and energy framework and the Energy Union debate. Regional cooperation can effectively bridge the gap between national renewables policies and a Europeanised approach to renewables deployment While multiple formats of regional cooperation already exist, a “quantum leap” in regional cooperation is required to address the further deployment of renewable energy from 2020 to 2030.

Final Report - Findings of the African Nuclear Study


Given the growing interest in nuclear energy generation from Africa countries, this study takes a closer look at nuclear energy from an African perspective and considers the emerging information in relation to nuclear energy supply in the countries that have advanced plans for nuclear- South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.

Marine Energy Development in Scotland: A TECN 5-Part Series

In this 5-part audio series, Sandy Hausman, an HBF Energy and Climate Media Fellow for 2015, reports on recent advancements in marine energy development in Europe and the U.S. These stories were originally published for Virginia Public Radio. 

By Sandy Hausman

The Czech Nuclear Illusion

In the first week of June, the Czech government adopted an action plan that is supposed to lead to the construction of four new reactors in the country—first in Dukovany and then in Temelín. The government’s decision, however, is not the product of a rational political debate; it is the result of the long-term erosion of responsible governing. Therefore, the Czech Republic can serve as a textbook case of how decisions about the future of energy should not be made.  

By Martin Sedlák

Offshore Wind Power: No Promises for VA's Coast

Part two of a series by Sandy Hausman, a 2015 Energy and Climate Media Fellow for Heinrich Böll North America, on offshore wind power in the US and Europe. Part 2 explores the linkages between wind farming in Denmark and Virginia.

By Sandy Hausman

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2015

Four years after Fukushima, global nuclear power generation continues to slow. This year's World Nuclear Industry Status Report takes a look at the current empirical facts and figures of the nuclear industry worldwide. 

By Mycle Schneider, Antony Froggatt

The Green Peace Dividend- Why Green Technologies Matter for International Security

Violent conflicts and security crises around the world have many different causes and effects. The vast majority of them, however, are in one way or another related to energy policy. Yet making this link apparent to policy makers has been challenging. Experts from the foreign policy, security and energy communities have been reluctant to fully grasp the security implications of promising green energy technology and market developments.

By Charlotte Beck, Rebecca Bertram

What Germany can learn from California's innovative start-up culture - An Interview with Cem Oezdemir

Smart energy infrastructure and an entrepreneurial spirit will play an important role in driving energy transitions around the world. At the end of June, Cem Oezdemir, Co-Chairman of the German Green Party, travelled to San Francisco to witness how innovative solutions are driving low-carbon development in the Bay Area. We spoke with him about how California could serve as a model for German start-ups.

Germany’s energy transition is not an island of its own

The restructuring of the energy system in one of the world’s leading industrialized nations is undoubtedly a highly ambitious undertaking. There is no blueprint for this energy transition that would offer a simple step-by-step procedure to follow. There is one thing that the German energy transition certainly is not: an island of its own that isolates Germany’s energy economy. On the contrary, a quick overview of the world’s state of affairs with regard to energy shows that the global energy transition is now picking up speed.

By By Ralf Fücks

On Denmark’s Road To Renewable Power

How does Denmark plan to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 -- and how does it already get almost half of its electricity from renewables? Stephanie Joyce, a 2015 Energy and Climate Media Fellow for Heinrich Böll North America, has an answer in part three and the final installment of her series from Bornholm, Denmark.

By Stephanie Joyce

“Scarce resources are among the main causes for today’s wars"

During his recent visit to Washington, D.C., we spoke with Jürgen Trittin, Member of the German Parliament, about European energy independence in the wake of the Ukraine crisis, the role of TTIP in enhancing energy security across the Atlantic, and how the German Energiewende can serve as a model for policy makers worldwide.

Grid Guinea Pigs On A Tiny Danish Island

Part two of a series by Stephanie Joyce, another 2015 Energy and Climate Media Fellow for Heinrich Böll North America, in Bornholm, Denmark - or as she puts it, "a real-life test lab for the grid of the future." Listen and read more at Inside Energy:

By Stephanie Joyce

The Future of Utilities: Extinction or Re-Invention?

Energy transitions in Germany and the United States are forcing utilities to increasingly reinvent themselves. Energy expert Susanne Fratzscher takes a look at a number of transformative trends that will push this process and outlines how utilities have begun to adapt to new power market realities on both sides of Atlantic.

What Germany’s energy transition means for the United States

Germany’s energy transition – or Energiewende – has created a global market for renewable energies, such as wind and solar, by promoting the rapid build-up of these technologies through a stable policy framework. As a result, the cost of both wind and solar has dramatically decreased over the past few years. This is now enabling other countries to follow suit, in particular the United States.

By Rebecca Bertram

Copenhagen Turns to Two Wheels and Takes Off

Today, 60 percent of people in Copenhagen's city core commute by bike. In the greater Copenhagen area, over 40 percent do. “It’s not something that’s in Copenhagen’s genes, or that we’re weirder or stranger than any other people on earth,” Kabell says. “Every city can do this.”

By Terrence Henry

How Denmark and Texas Became Wind Energy Kings

Standing on the shore of the Baltic sea a few miles outside of Copenhagen, Denmark, the view’s about what you’d expect. Rocky shore, grey horizon, a boat here or there. But this shore is special. Look up, and you’ll see — and hear — three giant offshore wind turbines cutting through the air. Each stands 500 feet tall, with three blades (each close to 200 feet long), spinning non-stop.

By Terrence Henry

What Spain Can Teach Texas About Solar Energy

About an hour’s drive outside of Sevilla, Spain’s old city, past grazing black-footed pigs and olive orchards, sits the Abengoa Solucar complex, and it’s truly a sight: Imagine cresting a hill and then all of the sudden seeing several large towers, over 500 feet high, with hundreds of beams of light striking them — solar rays from an army of mirrors arrayed in a circle on the ground below. They’re called heliostats.

By Terrence Henry

Germany’s fight against coal gets underway – albeit slowly

Germany's short-term 2020 climate targets are in jeopardy. This is a serious drawback: if the Energiewende should prove ineffective on the climate front, it will fall short on its declared objective and discourage other countries from following suit. The German government is now taking first steps to fight the country's coal power.

By Rebecca Bertram

Pennsylvania Drills Wherever It Can

This fall the Heinrich Böll Foundation hosted a delegation of civil society representatives and journalists from Poland for a study tour to Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania and New York State to gain a better understanding of the effects that natural gas exploration have had on local communities along the Marcellus Shale. Tomasz Ulanowski, a reporter for the Polish daily newspaper Wyborcza, wrote this report.

By Tomasz Ulanowski

Texas and Germany: Energy Twins?


Geographically and politically, Texas and Germany are on opposite sides of the world, but both believe strongly in competitive energy markets, and both have largely deregulated their power industries. Now both are reconsidering their market designs.

Transatlantic Exchange on Capacity Markets

Even the strongest proponents of the Energiewende agree that Germany needs to reform its energy system to accommodate the next influx of renewables while maintaining security of supply of conventional power at all times. The United States has extensive experience with capacity markets from which the German debate could benefit. As such, a German delegation consisting of national and state energy policy makers and experts will visit the United States from September 1 to 5, 2014.

The Socio-Economic Power of Renewable Energy Production Cooperatives in Germany


Energy cooperatives are important players in Germany's energy transition. Their positive socio-economic impact, especially in rural regions, has been highly significant yet not well understood. PhD student and Heinrich Böll Foundation scholarship holder, Sarah Debor, takes a closer look at the empirical evidence. This paper was first published by the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy.

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2014

Three years after Fukushima, global nuclear power generation continues to decline. This year's report states that the nuclear share in the world's power generation declined steadily from a historic peak of 17.6 percent in 1996 to 10.8 percent in 2013. If it weren’t for the World Nuclear Industry Status Report, we probably wouldn’t know. This is because the nuclear industry is working hard to have us believe quite the opposite: that the world is seeing a nuclear renaissance.

The German Coal Conundrum

The focus on the Energiewende has increasingly shifted to the role of coal in Germany. Arne Jungjohann and Craig Morris take a critical and historical look at the German coal situation and find that coal is in fact not making a comeback in Germany.

Reexamining the United States’ shale gas success: Is Europe letting the fox in the henhouse?


Shale gas development continues to cause a heated debate on both sides of the Atlantic with the industry touting the increasing number of jobs within the sector, as well as lower CO2 emissions in comparison to coal and oil. Although both seem to be good news for US and EU policy makers and civil society, such arguments are often exaggerated and do not reflect less promising economic and environmental realities.

Greening the Heartlands of Coal in Europe: Insights from a Czech-German-Polish Dialogue on Energy Issues


The impacts of the German energy transition on its European neighbors have hardly been addressed. In 2013, HBF, in cooperation with the Ecologic Institute, invited experts from the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland to discuss the prospects for better cross-border cooperation arising from Germany's energy transition. This report is the result of the trilateral energy expert group's discussion.

Myths and Facts: The German Switch from Nuclear to Renewables


As a reaction to the nuclear disaster in Fukushima in March 2011, Germany decided to phase-out nuclear power by the year 2022. Three years later, we can see what the temporary effects have been and what the long-term effects are likely to be in the country's energy sector.

Changing the Game: Boulder’s Clean Energy Goals, and How a Lego Game Shows How To Reach Them

What if there were a way for Boulder to visualize what would happen if the city were to take more aggressive action for reducing carbon emissions, or to map what it would look like to meet its renewable energy targets through municipalization? Lego blocks and “Change Cards” provide just such a tool, offering insight into the technological, economic and political challenges to making Boulder’s clean-energy and carbon-reducing visions a reality. 

By Marisa McNatt

How Denmark turned an efficiency obligation into opportunity

In the U.S., there’s rising anxiety and speculation about how flat or falling electricity demand could affect utilities’ long-term business models. Here in Denmark, though, electric companies have long operated in a slow- or no-growth market, and they continue to invest in further lowering customers’ energy use.

By Dan Haugen

Writing About the Energiewende

Writing about Germany’s clean energy transition is notoriously difficult – for a number of reasons. And writing about it in book form is probably the hardest of all. Paul Hockenos reviews four recent titles that tackle the topic.

The Energiewende - the Result of a Powerful Mass Movement from Below


Nowhere is the economic impact of the German energy transition more evident than in Bavaria where land owners and farmers have taken advantage of the new incentives to become "prosumers". In this interview with Josef Goeppel, a conservative member of the Bundestag from Bavaria, it becomes clear how German traditional conservatives are grasping the relevance of the Energiewende.

German Energy Transition #6


While the US energy sector is good for big business, Germany’s is good for citizens. Germans not only want clean power; they also want to make it themselves. When locals own and control their environment, the acceptance of renewables increases, argues Craig Morris.

What is the German Energiewende?

Germany's path to a renewable energy economy will not succeed without smart grid technologies. Some say the energy transition is impossible. What is the Energiewende? Why is it worth doing and how do citizens and small businesses in Germany invest in renewables? Check out this video

German Energy Transition #5 - Greening the Economy

Germany's transition to renewable energies is one its signature public policies of the 21st century. However, the Energiewende was not created in a vacuum. In this paper the author discusses the Energiewende's overlooked American origins.

Shale Gas: Unconventional and Unwanted

Over the last decade, the US has seen a shale gas rush. This rapid development has put to a heavy burden on the environment and the human health. Given the controversial experience in the US, more voices in Europe call for an EU-wide moratorium on shale gas – for good reasons, argues this new report.

Power and Profits in the Hands of the People


Germany's rural towns, like their United States counterparts, have struggled in modern times to overcome vulnerability to economic and population decline. In recent years, scores of small town residents in Germany have risen to the challenge by tapping national policies and local renewable resources, like the sun, wind, and biomass to create electricity, well-paying jobs, investment opportunities, local tax revenues, and new industries for their citizens. In September 2012, nine renewable energy policy makers and advocates from across the United States traveled to Germany to witness what amounts to a small town and rural revitalization phenomenon. What they learned broadened their perceptions, set the record straight on several prevalent myths about renewable energy, and spurred new ideas about how to move forward back home.

The German Energy Transition - Greening the Economy

Germany has drawn a lot of attention for the Energiewende - the aim to switch to a renewable energy economy, phase out nuclear power and leave fossil fuels behind. But what exactly is the German energy transition: How does it works and what challenges lay ahead? Check out this new website.

The German Energy Transition - Greening the Economy

Germany’s green global leadership role was taken to new heights in 2011 when the country embarked on an ambitious energy transition, die Energiewende. But can a highly industrialized economy be dominantly powered with wind and solar energy? What about energy costs and grid stability? This dossier addresses these questions and provides other insights from the German Energy Transition.

German Energy Transition #4

Much of Europe is betting on offshore wind as a way of transforming its energy system into one which will be almost entirely based on renewable energies. Europe - and Germany - have seen a large influx of investment in this sector over the past years, and the quest for becoming the leading supply and manufacturing region is well underway - with seaports leading the way.

The ‘Bleeding Heart’ Campaign to Help Big Energy in Germany

Energy from renewables is getting less and less expensive – while at the same time, private households have to pay more and more for it. This is obviously not due to the German Renewable Energy Act, which has been adopted by more than 50 countries meanwhile.

By Jürgen Trittin

German Energy Transition #3

Cooperatives have a vast history of playing important roles in supporting local economies in both the Midwestern United States and Germany. Today, a significant opportunity exists to build on existing cooperative models in the Midwest to also supply sources of local, renewable energy production.

German Energy Transition #2

Germany was a first mover in the solar energy sector. Recent bankruptcies call its early commitment into question, but a closer look shows how well positioned Germany remains – and why it’s a good time for the US to get on board.

German Energy Transition #1

Is it hysteria or emotional populism that Germany has decided to phase out nuclear energy? On the contrary, a majority of Germans has been unconvinced of its merits since the early 1980s; the source of this anti-atom consensus lies in the persuasive, fact-based arguments of a powerful, grassroots social movement.

Transatlantic Tar Sand Storms: Lobbying and Dirty Oil are Canada’s New Exports

In its tar sands, Canada has the biggest oil reserves worldwide after Saudi Arabia. While delaying climate action at home, the Canadian government is undermining international efforts in fighting climate change. Low carbon fuel standards in the EU and California or the denial to build the Keystone XL pipeline through the US would be a major setback for Canada’s export of oil from tar sands.

By Arne Jungjohann

Moving Beyond Nuclear and Coal?

This panel discussion in Durban brought together Japanese and European perspectives on how the international community is moving away from nuclear and coal-based energy in response to incidents such as Fukushima.

Harvesting Clean Energy on Ontario Farms

During the Ontario Renewable Energy Tour, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the Pembina Institute, the Climate Action Network Canada, and the United Church of Canada presented their report on Harvesting Clean Energy on Ontario Farms.

By August 8, 2011

Harvesting Renewable Energy

Dirk Ketelsen, organic farmer and executive director of Dirkshof, a renewable energy producer and consultancy in Schleswig-Holstein, gives a first-hand report on the success of his investment in renewable energies.

Germany is Right to Opt Out of Nuclear Power

No other industrial nation is going to abandon nuclear power as fast as Germany. Isn’t this an exaggerated panic reaction? No, argues Ulrich Beck, a German sociologist and risk expert. It is not the product of German Angst. It’s the economy, stupid! In the long run, nuclear power will become more expensive, while renewable energy will become cheaper.

By Ulrick Beck

No Nukes, No Problem?

As Germany is showing, it is very possible to get large penetrations of renewable energy while phasing out nuclear energy. With bold political and social support, a consistent incentive framework for clean energy investment, and creative thinking about how to deploy geographically-dispersed resources, Germany is undergoing a major transition in its energy sector.

Energy of the Future?

The Heinrich Boell Foundation Prague published a new report on the state of nuclear energy and plans to expand it in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, and Bulgaria. In many of these countries high-level politicians are vigorously promoting the development of nuclear energy.

Nuclear Lessons from Japan

The unfolding disaster at the nuclear plants in Japan, which involves some of the oldest reactors in the country, starkly shows that the United States’ current policy of rubber-stamping 20-year license extensions for its aging reactors is very dangerous.

27 National Energy Action Plans = 1 European Energy Policy?

This Green European Foundatio (GEF) publication is a first, critical look at six National Renewable Energy Action Plans submitted to the European Commission in 2010. These action plans contain detailed information on how these six European Union member states expect to meet their EU renewable energy targets, and hence provide great insight into the expected development of the European energy industry over the coming decade and beyond.

How did Germany Surpass the United States in Renewable Energy Development?

From May 30th to June 4th, 2010, Transatlantic Climate fellow Dan Conrad (North Carolina Conservation Network) visited Berlin and Prague to meet with experts and officials for discussion on renewable energy development and climate policy. Read his reflections on similarities and differences of policies on either side of the Atlantic.

Myth of Nuclear Power - A Guide

The recent explosions at several reactors in Japan have again highlighted the hazards of nuclear power in a dramatic way. The description of nuclear power as reliable and secure energy source has turned into a myth. Renowned international nuclear experts provide an overview of current, facts rich, and nuclear-critical know-how.

Three Hundred Thousand Clean Energy Jobs

This policy paper analyzes the succes of the German renewables industry and discusses which of the lessons learned could be applied to the U.S. states of Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota. In cooperation with the Blue Green Alliance the paper will be released during the Midwestern Green Jobs Tour from July 12-16.

Out of the Running?

The United States must make long-term investments in clean energy development or risk being shut out of a $2.3 trillion industry, this new report has found. The study describes Germany, Spain and China as early winners in the next great technological and industrial revolution because each imposed policies to encourage low-carbon energy development.

In cooperation with the Center for American Progress

Going Green. The Future has Begun

The green industrial revolution will, on a grand scale, create new products, services, and jobs. Although much remains to be done, the great transformation is on its way. In this collection of short articles, the authors debate the pros and cons of carbon capture and storage, the American turn to "green," and the questions of how economic growth and climate protection can be reconciled.

The Role of Foundations in Promoting Renewable Energy Policies

This session at the Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA) Fall Retreat in Anchorage, Alaska, focused on “Investments Into Renewable Energies –What policies do Work?” Andreas Krämer of the Berlin-based Ecologic Institute and Wilson Rickerson of Meister Consulting addressed differences and similarities of renewable energies in Germany and the US.

A European Community for Renewable Energies

The Sahara can become a power hub to provide renewable energy to Europe by the mid of the century. This project should become a cornerstone of a new European Community for renewable energies, argues Ralf Fücks.

Europe: Creating New Jobs with Renewable Energies

The support of renewable energies triggers boosts the economy and creates hundred thousands of new jobs. In Germany already today more people work in renewable energy industries than in the coal and nuclear sector together.

1968 revisited - 40 Years of Protest Movements


2008 marks the 40th anniversary of the worldwide protests of 1968. The events of that time such as the protests against the war in Vietnam, the Prague Spring and the student protests in Western Europe and the U.S. are closely connected – it was truly a global movement!

Feed-in Tariffs and Renewable Energy in the USA

Feed-in tariff policies have driven rapid renewable energy growth for electricity in Europe, but have not been widely adopted in North America to date. This paper reviews the experience of US states which have introduced feed-in tariff legislation, and discusses the outlook for Community-Based Energy Development policies.


Energy transitions and green transformations are key focuses of our work. The gradual expansion of renewable energy sources will have considerable impacts on our energy system as we know it with regards to utilities, grid infrastructure and energy efficiency. We encourage an intensified global dialogue around these issues and provide best practice examples through policy dialogue on the international, national and local levels.