Statement of the Independent Expert Commission on the Monitoring Report Issued by the Federal Government - Evaluation of the Progress in Implementing the Energy Transition: Interim Results Are Mixed


In the statement on the federal government’s 2012 monitoring report, the Expert Commission on the monitoring process "Energy of the Future" reports mixed interim results for Germany’s "Energiewende", i.e. the transition of the energy system towards renewable sources and more energy efficiency. While the expansion of renewable energies is making good progress, efforts need to be intensified in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the improvement of energy efficiency. The German government has announced clear priorities in this regard, which now have to be implemented.

According to the Expert Commission, the energy transition has two key targets: the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050 and the phase-out of nuclear energy by the end of 2022. The statement issued by the monitoring commission discusses ten leading indicators for the energy transition to deliver a differentiated evaluation of recent developments and to provide recommendations.

Since greenhouse gas emissions in Germany have been rising again in the past two years, the reduction target of 40 per cent until 2020 has been put under threat. Accordingly, in its monitoring report the federal government expects greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced by merely 35 per cent. The failure to meet this target can only be prevented if additional energy and climate policies are implemented. Apart from efforts to reduce emissions in the sectors not included in the emissions trading scheme, Germany should also actively participate in the structural reform of the European emissions trading system to meet national climate protection targets.

Regarding emissions reductions, efforts should be mainly focused on a massive reduction in energy demand for heating, while renewable energies should be further expanded. So far, improvements concerning the increase in energy efficiency have been rather modest, both on the macroeconomic level as well as in individual final-energy sectors. In the future, efficiency measures for buildings and transport should be given the highest priority.

For renewable energies, the target to increase their share in the gross final consumption of energy to 18 per cent by 2020 is feasible from the present point of view. The power sector continues to be the driving force of renewable energies expansion. In the heating sector the expansion of renewable energies is in line with the targets set for 2020. In the transport sector a share of 5.7 per cent of renewables in fuels was reached in 2012, missing the 6.25 per cent target outlined in the Bio Fuel Quota Law ("Biokraftstoffquotengesetz") once again.

The energy transition is supposed to take account of the following targets, which have not been quantified: environmental compatibility, supply security and affordability. Regarding environmental compatibility, the increasing demand for land could result in social conflicts. Currently, as much as nearly ten per cent of the area of Germany is being utilised for energy supply.

A decisive indicator for supply security is the remaining capacity, i.e. the reliably available capacity subtracted by the load at the time of the annual peak load. According to this indicator, there is currently no a sign of a general shortage of supply in Germany, despite plans of a number of operators to permanently shut down some of their power plants. However, the planned shutdown of the remaining nuclear power plants may induce local capacity bottlenecks in southern Germany, which are further exacerbated by deficits concerning the grid expansion.

Even though non-beneficiary end consumers are facing considerably higher renewable energy surcharges imposed by legislation, the macroeconomic aggregate end-user costs for electricity have not risen to a greater extent in 2012 than the nominal gross domestic product, remaining almost unchanged at a share of 2.5 per cent. In the light of the above assessment, the Expert Commission considers the total cost burden of the energy transition for the German economy not to be as exorbitant as the public debate suggests. The heavy price increases for natural gas and fuels are primarily caused by rising prices on the international markets and cannot be attributed to the energy transition.

Expert commission on the monitoring process "Energy of the Future"

On 8 April 2014, the German government published the second monitoring report "Energy of the Future". The report features indicators that show the progress of the energy transition. It was prepared by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy in cooperation with other departments and subordinate authorities. The German government has appointed an independent commission of energy experts to support the monitoring process. The Expert Commission annually issues a statement on the government’s draft monitoring reports. The statement of the Expert Commission provides a scientific assessment of the monitoring reports of the federal government.

The members of the Expert Commission are: Prof. Andreas Löschel (chair), Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) and Heidelberg University; Prof. Georg Erdmann, TU Berlin; Prof. Frithjof Staiß, Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW); Dr. Hans-Joachim Ziesing, AG Energiebilanzen e.V. (AGEB)

For further information please contact

Prof. Dr. Andreas Löschel (chair), Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) and Heidelberg University, Phone +49(0)621/1235-200, E-mail

Prof. Dr. Georg Erdmann, TU Berlin, Phone +49(0)30/314-24656, E-mail

Prof. Dr. Frithjof Staiß, ZSW, Phone +49(0)711/7870-210, E-mail

Dr. Hans-Joachim Ziesing, AGEB, Phone +49(0)30/8913987, E-mail