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Mon Aug 12, 2013, 11:43 AM

The promise of the Energiewende: energy democracy

A new book by the CEO of a German renewables developer is drawing a lot of attention in Germany right now. In this first of three installments, we present the German debate to the non-German-speaking world.

The promise of the Energiewende: energy democracy

Matthias Willenbacher, head of one of Germany’s largest renewable development firms, says he will give away his shares in the company if Chancellor Merkel adopts a 100% renewable target for energy, not just electricity, by 2020. Today, the positive things about the book he wrote in German for this purpose.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned the announcement of the German book “My indecent proposal to the Chancellor”; now I have had a chance to read it. Parts of it are worth making known to the non-German-speaking world as an indication of what the debate sounds like over here. (Alas, no translation is in the works.)

First, some facts that were not clear to me from the press releases before I read the book. The author is talking about 100% renewable energy, not just electricity, though he could make that distinction clearer even in his book. Second, he would donate his shares in juwi, the firm he cofounded, to Germany’s energy cooperatives – the citizens who have invested in renewables over the past few decades.

Willenbacher minces no words about the role that energy democracy will play in the transition to renewables: “The German government still believes energy corporations can implement the Energiewende. This is a fundamental error.” He believes it will only work with distributed renewables in the hands of citizens, coops and municipals.

I find this stance a bit radical in Germany, but common enough...


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