Europe’s energy future will be largely influenced by its Member States’ long term policies. For the first time in France, a debate on energy is being opened, prompted by the oncoming national elections. This debate focuses on nuclear energy, which is of paramount importance in this country. On the one hand, giving up or just reducing nuclear energy would lead to a predictable social and economic catastrophe. On the other hand, the foundations of a new mode of development, in which the transition towards a new energy paradigm would play a significant role, would be laid.
A look at Germany may help clarify the debate. In an uncertain world, Germany appears to be a model of industrial dynamism, economic soundness, innovation, exportation and SMEs buoyancy. Germany is not reputed to make thoughtless decisions and would be described as excessively rational rather than overly emotional.
By giving up nuclear energy as of 2022, conservative Germany made the decision to significantly accelerate its energy transition towards large-scale energy efficiency and renewable energy, thus confirming the decisions made in 2001 by the SPD-Grünen coalition.
In its document entitled “The path to the energy of the future - reliable, affordable and environmentally sound’’ that was published last June, the German Government notes in the first Chapter (out of 39) : ‘’Germany is one of the most productive and economically successful countries in the world. This would not be possible without a competitive supply of energy for our businesses. We will preserve this asset. Our citizens rely on electricity being available at all times of the day and night, in any quantity and at an affordable price. They can continue to rely on that. We want our energy system to strengthen our economic base, give important impetus to innovation and technological progress, preserve the natural foundations of life and help protect our climate. We stand by these goals. We do not want Germany to be dependent on electricity imports, we want to be able to generate our net demand ourselves. This will remain our motive. »
This was followed by the government’s decisions to found a new paradigm (read the full document)
Other European countries would be well-advised to think about this decision instead of brushing it aside for its supposed lack of realism. All major changes in history originate from impossible challenges.
It should not be forgotten that the European renewable directive behind the boost in renewable energy in all European countries took its inspiration from a German law which was based on decisions by municipalities and municipal energy companies to develop renewable energy and local jobs.
History may be about to repeat itself.
From Gérard Magnin, Executive director of Energy Cities