Energiewende on the ground

June 6, 2015

A big learning to share in June from my participation in the Transatlantic Urban Climate Dialogue (TUCD) was getting to see how Germany’s national policy Energiewende (energy transition) was being implemented at the local level.

Energiewende is the transition by Germany to an energy portfolio focussed on energy efficiency, thermal and renewable energy and sustainable development – the backbone of community energy planning.  Germany’s long-term goal is to eliminate the use of coal and other non-renewable energy sources.

When the EU began to open up gas and electricity market in the 1990s to some degree of competition, a handful of municipal utilities embraced the changes as a competitive opportunity for their communities while the vast majority did not.  Mannheim is a great example of a utility that embraced the change. Will the same be true in North America?

New York State regulators recently announced a shift to an electricity market place to promote local energy over central power plants and long transmission lines.  Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) is opening the grid to new energy technologies like microgrids, energy efficiency, solar, electric vehicles, energy storage, and demand response.  I will be interested to learn how my U.S. counterparts view this regulatory change in light of the German experience.

Lots to consider as Canada’s energy system undergoes its own fundamental transformation to respond to climate change and new technologies that are driving efficiency and distributed generation.