Energy Transition: The American Way
The energy transition is still in the early stages in the United States, and climate protection is an unknown topic – is it just an Eurpean stereotype or is there some truth to it? With our partner WWF, we, the energy and IT company LichtBlick, held an event on this topic in Berlin and invited speakers from the USA in order discuss various aspects with them.
Independent Energy Transitions
Craig Morris from German Energy Transition has lived in Germany for a long time but is knowledgeable about the energy transition and related topics in the USA. In contrast to Germany, it is indeed the case in the United States that there is no unified course set by the government. Instead, the individual states – or even counties and cities themselves – implement their own forms of the energy transition, according to Morris. However, he also notes that the market practically supports itself in the USA. In Craig Morris’s view, completely going without government subsidies, as envisioned by our CEO Heiko von Tschischwitz, is not yet possible in Germany, but we have become less dependent on politics in expanding renewable energies – a situation that especially applies to the USA.
Active at the Local Level
Dr. Miranda Schreurs, head of the Environmental Policy Research Centre (FFU) at the Freie Universität in Berlin, prefers to compare the USA to Europe instead of just to Germany. There are more similarities here. Germany and California want to be trailblazers while Poland and West Virginia, in contrast, are two states that depend on coal. In Schreurs’ opinion, the United States was actually one of the initiators of an energy transition in the early days. However, she sees the Republicans – especially under George W. Bush – as having put the brakes on climate protection. As a result, the reputation of the USA in Europe has deteriorated rapidly. However, there is a lot of activity at the local level, such as in California, New York, or Oregon. According to Dr. Miranda Schreurs, it is actually difficult to tell whether California or Germany is the leader when it comes to the energy transition.
American Energy Transition
If the presidential elections in November are won by the Democrats, then the climate and energy plan could pick up more speed. “If you look at the USA, then you can’t really say that they have slept through the energy transition. Rather, they are having their own energy transition,” says Dr. Miranda Schreurs. Even if the Republicans win the election, the United States would not be able to completely back out of the energy transition and climate protection.
Nicholas Wagner, IRENA Innovation and Technology Centre, emphasizes once again that we shouldn’t limit the discussion of the energy transition to the USA or Germany and Europe, but rather that is a global project. The United States, however, will be the second most important country in the world for renewable energy in the next 15 years – after China.
There are far more similarities between the USA and Germany when it comes to the energy transition and renewable energy than one might think. One difference is that the transition in Germany is based primarily on ecological concerns, whereas the focus in the United States is far more on economic aspects. Cooperation between the two countries could aid in mutual inspiration and learning from each other. It could also serve as a role model for many other regions.
LichtBlick and WWF are confident that a swift transition from fossil-nuclear power to renewable energies in the electricity, heating, and transportation sectors will provide the essential foundation for climate protection, a low-risk energy supply, and Germany’s competitiveness in the decades to come. We want to pool our strengths and together accelerate the energy transition. You can find more information and energy transition references on our shared website.