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The German “Energiewende” – Implementing the transformation of the energy system of an industrialised country

05 March 2013
12:45 - 14:30

Date: 5 March 2013

Time: 12:45 for 13:00 to 14:30

Presenter: Professor Gerhard Stryi-Hipp, Head of Energy Policy and Coordinator Smart Energy Cities, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE


The transformation of the German energy system is often perceived only as a reaction on the nuclear power accident in Fukushima on 11 March 2011. However, this is wrong since the German government decided already in 2010 on the fundamental transformation of the energy system driven by concerns regarding the climate change and the growing dependency on energy imports. In August 2010, the government published a study with energy scenarios for Germany until 2050, elaborated by the three institutes [Prog 2010]. The main questions which should be answered by the study were: how could the German energy system look like in 2050 fulfilling the greenhouse gas reduction targets, how fast can this transformation happen, what will be the costs and – the special question – which role could nuclear power play in this transformation? Based on this study, the German government adopted the in September 2010 the “energy concept” as a guideline for the transformation of the German energy system until 2050 [BMWi 2010].

The main targets of the “energy concept” were: reduction of the primary energy demand by 50% and increase of the share of renewable energies to 60% on the total final energy demand and 80% on the electricity demand by 2050. In addition, the 2002 decided phase out on nuclear power until about 2025 (depending on the electricity produced by each nuclear power plant), was prolonged by 12 years in the average of the 17 existing nuclear power plants.

Very much shocked by the nuclear power accident in Fukushima on 11 March 2011, the German chancellor Angela Merkel came to the conclusion, that the risk of nuclear power plants is too high and the phase out of nuclear power should be accelerated as much as possible. On 6 June 2011 the government decided on the “Energiewende” [BReg 2011]. A package of decisions were taken: 8 nuclear power stations, which were immediately shut down after March 11, remainen shut down, the other 9 nuclear power stations will be shut down step my step, the last one in 2022, the transformation of the energy system shall be accelerated by increasing the speed of the deployment of renewable energies, especially the construction of off-shore wind power plants, and of the enlargement of the electrical grid, by pushing the use of combined heat and power stations and by increasing energy efficiency especially in the building sector. The increase of the budget for energy research was decided and its focus mainly on renewable energies, energy efficiency and enabling technologies like storage, smart grids and smart cities. In addition, a system to monitor the transformation was established. However, the long-term goals remain still the same than decided in 2010 with the “energy concept”, the “Energiewende” implies only the acceleration of the transformation.

The design of the German energy system after the transformation, the main challenges by building up a sustainable energy system and the first experiences more than one year after adopting the “Energiewende” will be presented in the talk.

Kindly RSVP by 1 March 2013

This seminar may be attended via video conference in Pretoria, Cape Town and KwaZulu-Natal. Details as below. The speakers will be in Pretoria

Cape Town: HSRC, 12th Floor, Plein Park Building (Opposite Revenue Office), Plein Street, Cape Town. Contact Jean Witten, Tel (021) 4668004, Fax (021) 461 0299, or

Durban: First floor HSRC board room, 750 Francois Road, Ntuthuko Junction, Pods 5 and 6, Cato Manor, Contact Ridhwaan Khan, Tel (031) 242 5400, cell: 083 788 2786 or

Pretoria: HSRC Video Conference, 1st floor HSRC Library Human Sciences Research Council, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria. Arlene Grossberg, Tel: (012) 302 2811, e-mail: