UK should follow Germany’s renewable energy lead


Alex Blackburne explores how Germany became the world leaders in renewable energy, and how the relatively dwindling UK can learn a thing or two from its progression.

Germany and the UK haven’t had the best of relationships in the past. But, with Germany storming ahead in the renewable energy table, and the UK still finding its feet in the industry, it might be time now for us to ask for some advice.

In 2008, Germany contributed 2.6% of the world’s carbon emissions, with over 786m tonnes produced. But this figure is a significant improvement from ten years earlier in 1998, when the country emitted nearly 900m tonnes of carbon.

This decrease has coincided with Germany’s increased use of renewable energy. In 2000, just 6.3% of the country’s electricity share came from renewable sources, but in 2011, that figure has risen to 20.6% – so that now over a fifth of the power is renewable, to make it the undisputed world leaders in the sector.

But how has it had such a rapid about-turn in its priorities? The answer lies within its feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme.

Germany’s FIT is widely regarded as the best, and certainly the most successful, the world has ever seen. In short, the scheme sees people in Germany rewarded for their use of renewable energy, and means energy production ownership is spread, with local ownership very much promoted, to overwhelming effects.

Energy Self-Reliant States collated a neat graph to show how favourable renewable energy is with people in Germany, contrasting local and non-local ownership. The image shows that with local ownership, attitude to renewable energy is 45% favourable, whereas without, it’s 60% negative.

In stark comparison to Germany’s FIT success, the UK equivalent has seen subsidy cuts, which have been met with disdain by many in the industry.

It’s important for the FIT to become an equally major player in the UK, purely because of the reams of supportive evidence offered by Germany.

This weekend sees the deadline for the new, higher FIT in the UK. Although it might be seen by some as alienating smaller proponents of renewable energy, in the long run, it’s probably a good thing, and still works out cost-effective for households to invest in solar PV.

If you would like to help the UK catch up Germany in the renewable energy rankings, then investment in clean technology is the way to do it. To do this, ask your financial adviser, if you have one, or complete our online form and we’ll connect you to a specialist ethical adviser.