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Energiewende: Germany's non-nuclear future - 04 November

Energiewende turbine

The Fukushima disaster of 2011 was a global event which prompted serious questions to be asked of nuclear power. Whilst the British government has recently advocated nuclear energy in the form of Hinkley Point, Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for Germany to go nuclear-free by 2022, and fill the gap with renewables in a process known as energiewende.

Energiewende is an opportunity for German industry to adjust their processes to cope with the future of fluctuating power reserves. This has helped stimulate new employment opportunities, with the Heinrich Böll Foundation estimating that there are 370,000 Germans working in the renewable energy industry which has had prominence in reviving declining industries such as fishing and shipbuilding in certain areas of Germany.

There is an energy law accompanied with the energiewende, which requires small and medium-sized companies to pay a renewable levy on their energy bills: however this can be interpreted as an incentive to improve energy efficiency and drive competitiveness towards more ambitious energy innovation.

Indeed, Frankfurt acts as a model of sustainability, as by 2050 the city will produce 100% of energy consumption from local and regional renewable sources. This will save Frankfurt €2bn in energy import costs, and this money will also stay in the region. In addition, energy efficiency has saved €100m in energy costs, as well as reducing emissions by 15%, and growing Frankfurt's economy by 50% between 1990 and 2012.

Energiewende offers a compelling alternative to nuclear subsidy in Britain, and will stimulate debate on improving renewable energy innovation towards a sustainable and carbon-free future.

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