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Germany’s Energy Transition Experiment–Lessons for Better Policy

September 25, 2018 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm +04

About the Event:

German for energy transition (in German known as the Energiewende) aims to drastically reduce Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions, without relying on nuclear power, while maintaining a secure and affordable energy supply. Since 2000 the country’s renewable-energy share has increased exponentially, accounting in 2017 for over a third of Germany’s gross electricity consumption. This unprecedented achievement is the result of policies, tools, and institutional arrangements intended to steer society to a low-carbon economy. Despite its resounding success in renewable-energy deployment, the Energiewende is not on track to meet its decarbonization goals. Energiewende regulations have generated numerous undesired consequences and have cost much more than anticipated, a burden borne primarily by energy consumers. Why has the Energiewende failed to bring Germany closer to its decarbonization goals? I analyzed the Energiewende as a complex socio-technical system, examining its framework, identifying the major players and factors that motivated them to pursue change, as well as the regulatory loopholes that created barriers to transition. Germany’s case demonstrates starkly that collective action driven by robust political consensus is not sufficient for steering complex socio-technical systems in desired directions. 


About the Speaker:

Dr. Christine Sturm is currently serving as a Fellow at the AUA Acopian Center for the Environment. She has served in several management positions inside the renewable energy arm of RWE, one of Germany’s largest utility groups. She has previously worked for multinational paper corporations and led the negotiations for the deregulation of the German gas markets, acting on behalf of the Federal Association of Germany’s Industry (BDI), and the Association of Large Industrial Energy Consumers (VIK). While still working for RWE, Dr. Sturm enrolled as PhD student in the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University. She earned her doctoral degree in May 2018. In her research, Dr. Sturm critically explores Germany’s energy transition (Energiewende) with the overarching goal to analyze the country’s efforts to steer its large socio-technological energy systems in particular, desired directions, the difficulties encountered in this process, as well as the means by which system managers and reformers adapt to unintended transition consequences.


Language: English


September 25, 2018
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Event Category: