Events > Lecture Series > Claudia Kemfert & Andreas Löschel

WWWforEurope Lecture Series


Chances and Challenges of Energy Transition -

The Example of Germany

Claudia Kemfert
& Andreas Loeschel


December 5th, 2013, 13:15 – 15:00

WIFO, Objekt 20, Arsenal

The lecture was held in German.


"Energy politics in Germany [have] turned into a battlefield. [] In the foreground stands the feud between politicians, lobbyists, ecologists, and others that has been going on for some time now. It is about a debate that is purposefully launched in the media, so that behind the scenes, some energy corporations can create facts without being observed. The ingredients of these conflicts are well-known: power and influence, privileges which have to be defended or redistributed - and of course it's about money."

Claudia Kemfert is head of the department Energy, Transportation, Environment at the German Institute of Economic Research (DIW Berlin) since April 2004 and Professor of Energy Economics and Sustainability at the private university Hertie School of Governance, in Berlin since 2009.

For more information, visit Claudia Kemfert's website or read her latest book "Kampf um Strom".



"It is a paradox. In Germany we are promoting renewable energy very strongly, but emissions continue to rise. Coal is at an unbeatable low and is used when the renewable energies do not deliver electricity. The problem is the low prices in the emission trade: Emission trading has not managed to make electricity from coal more expensive as electricity from gas."

Andreas Löschel is head of the department "Environmental and Resource Economics, Environmental Management" at the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW),  Professor of Economics at the University of Heidelberg, and serves as lead author in the Working Group III contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report (2010-2014) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

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Commentary by Angela Köppl

Senior Researcher at Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO)


Claudia Kemfert (DIW) and Andreas Löschel (ZEW), two renowned energy experts, discussed the German experience of energy transition. First Claudia Kemfert pointed out a number of myths accompanying the discussion of energy transition in the media. For instance, in contrast to what is often claimed, it is not true that the risk of blackouts has significantly increased due to the energy transition. Warnings of blackouts have been issued quite frequently since the eighties, long before the start of energy transition.

Kemfert emphasised that energy transition is a long term project, which should culminate in reducing CO2 emissions by at least 80% until 2050. Warnings that it cannot be achieved until 2020 are therefore not appropriate. What is currently being implemented in Germany is primarily an energy supply transition with little influence on energy demand and efficiency. Unfortunately, the new coalition agreement in Germany does not emphasise measures to transform energy demand, (e.g. regarding mobility and the building sector), and thus a lot of potential for CO2 emission reduction will be foregone.

Andreas Löschel presented a number of insights regarding the German energy transition. For instance, he stressed the importance of efficiency when promoting renewable energies. At the moment suppliers of renewable energy receive a fixed remuneration and thus there are no incentives for them to react to market demand. Another insight gained by now is that grid expansion, although it may not be very costly, is nevertheless met with acceptance difficulties.

Finally, Löschel argued that in order to reach the overarching goal of reducing CO2 emissions and to at the same time lower the costs of energy transition it is essential to raise the price of CO2 emissions so that the true costs of carbon can be internalised.   

In the ensuing discussion it was pointed out that, by now, renewable energy comes at nearly the same costs as conventional energy.

Both Kemfert and Löschel believe that the goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 40% until 2020 in Germany will not be met, not because it is impossible from a technological or economic point of view, but due to the lack of political will displayed in the new German coalition agreement. 


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