Fourth quarter of 2002

Is a German ‘energy model’ emerging?

WISE-Paris, 15 November 2002

[Posted 16/11/2002]

Germany's primary energy consumption has been falling by 0.3 per cent per year on average for 10 years (1991 to 2001); its greenhouse gas emissions have dropped by 2.1 per cent (1990 to 2000), whereas economic growth has —according to the latest statistics published by the federal statistics agency on 5 November 2002— reached + 1.5 per cent per year. When viewed against a 1990 baseline, Germany has thus achieved a global reduction in its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions equal to 19 per cent of the 21 per cent reduction it has to achieve in the 2008-2012 period to meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. Germany's Minister of Environment, Jürgen Trittin, has estimated that reduction objectives may even be bettered, although some experts remain circumspect. (1)

The trend for 2002 appears to prove that Minister Trittin is right: a reduction in primary energy consumption of 2.8 per cent for the first three quarters; a spectacular increase of more than 14 per cent in wind and hydro power; and massive job creation in the sector.

Since its election in 1998, the coalition government of Gerhard Schröder's social democrat SPD Party and the Greens (Grünen) has applied an innovative energy policy in Germany. Narrowly re-elected, thanks to the Greens' good score in the 2002 elections, (2) the ‘red-green’ coalition is sticking to the main lines of Germany's ‘new direction for energy’, especially the nuclear phase-out. This agreement with the major electric utilities operating nuclear plants —under which Germany's nuclear power plants will be shut down over 20 years (the final limit being defined as a maximum amount of nuclear-generated electricity and not by a deadline)— was signed in June 2001. (3)

To meet the challenges of the nuclear pahse-out (greenhouse gas emissions, security of energy supply, etc.), the coalition has introduced a series of measures such as the program to improve energy efficiency, environmentally-oriented fiscal reform, and development of renewable energies.

The results of this policy are now tangible, as indicated by the primary energy consumption figures published by the AG Energiebilanzen (4) for the first three quarters of 2002: primary energy consumption has dropped by 2.8 per cent in relation to the same period for 2001. At the same time, the shares of oil, coal and nuclear power in primary energy consumption have reduced by 3.9 per cent, 4.3 per cent and 5.9 per cent respectively, whereas the share of hydro and wind power has increased by 14.3 per cent. Only the share of lignite shows an increase of 2 per cent. This overall reduction in primary energy consumption is to be added to the reduction of 4.9 per cent already obtained in Germany between 1990 and 2000. (5) By way of comparison, figures for the same period show an increase in primary energy consumption in France of 15.6 per cent, (6) 19 per cent in Belgium and Luxembourg. (7)

The exceptional growth in renewable energies experienced by Germany is the result of an unprecedentedly proactive policy in the area. Between 1998 and 2000, more than a billion euros have been committed to various programs in these sectors, such as the program to assist research into profitable energy sources or the program for 100 000 solar roofs, initiated in January 1999. Photovoltaic production of electricity thus tripled between 1998 and 2000.

Without tax changes, but thanks to reform, the government has also managed to find considerable sums for the environment: in 2001, €150 million were added to the fund intended for renewable energies, and this contribution is estimated at €190 million for 2002. In the area of wind power alone, and for 2001 only, Germany installed 2 659 MW, equivalent to the power installed over 20 years in Denmark, considered as a model in the area. In 2002, Germany has already gone beyond the stage of 10 000 MW of wind generators installed, i.e. a third of the world's capacity. The objective set by the German government is to have one quarter of all of its electricity generated by wind power by 2030.

Around 130 000 jobs have been created in the area of renewable energies, 40 000 of which were in the area of wind generators, 50 000 in biomass and 18 000 in solar power (passive and photovoltaic). (8) Creation of another 72 000 jobs is expected by 2005, (9) 250 000 by 2010. (10)

After fearing an economic catastrophe resulting from Germany's innovative policy, France's politicians are now more reserved in their judgment. Some French senators recognize that Germany's energy policy now looks more like ‘a far-sighted, strategic change of direction’ than the ‘economic disaster’ (11) forecast initially.


  1. See
  2. See « Coalition agreement signed by the SPD and Grüne parties represented in the former and new German governments », Our News, WISE-Paris, 25/10/2002
  3. See « German Government and Utilities Sign Phase-Out Plan », Our News, WISE-Paris, 14/06/2001
  4. Arbeitsgemeinschaft Energiebilanzen, official working group of major German energy companies and energy research institutes since 1971. Figures are available on
  5. Unless otherwise indicated, the figures cited below are from the Federal Ministry for Environment, Protection of Nature and Nuclear Safety (, and in particular from the German Environmental Report 2002. Ecological - Modern - Fair; the ecological and economic modernization of society, Report on the environmental policy of the 14th legislative period, available on Internet at: An interesting synthesis with a complete quantified balance is also available in the 2002 report from the German Federal Environment Office (Umweltbundesamt), Environmental Data Germany 2002, available on Internet at:
  6. Figures from the Ministry for Industry, available on website:
  7. From figures in BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2001 and 2002
  8. BMU, Press release, 12 September 2002
  9. Study by Rhénanie-Westphalie Institute for Economic Research (RWI, cited in: German environmental report 2002
  10. Study from German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), cited in: German environmental report 2002
  11. L’état actuel et les perspectives techniques des énergies renouvelables, Report to French Senate by Claude Birraux and Jean-Yves Le Déaut, OPECST, May 2000

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