Timeline Energiewende

The timeline of the main historic events in Germany’s Energiewende

The Federal Environment Agency is founded.

As a reaction to the oil crisis, the first “Thermal Insulation” and “Heat Operation” Ordinances are approved, regulating the maximum energy demand for buildings and efficiency requirements for heating systems.

Germany creates the Blauer Engel (Blue Angel) label that certifies the environmental friendliness of products – 14 years before the Energy Star was created in the US. Whereas the Blue Angel was brought about by a coalition ranging from environmentalists to unions and church groups, the Energy*was a product of the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Publication of the study entitled Energiewende (Energy Transition), showing that economic growth can continue even as we consume less energy.

For the first time in history, the Green Party enters the German national parliament and gives environmental concern a voice.

In Chernobyl (Ukraine), a nuclear power plant melts down. Five weeks later, the Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety is founded.

German Chancellor Helmut Kohl (CDU) speaks of the “threat of grave climate change from the greenhouse effect” in the German Parliament.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems makes the Rappenecker Cottage the first solar powered, off-grid mountain cottage for hikers in Europe.

Five reactors in the former East Germany are switched off as part of the reunification of Germany. It was essentially the first step towards a nuclear phase-out.

The Feed-in Act is adopted under Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s coalition of the conservative Christian Democrats and the Libertarian FDP provides the first feed-in tariffs and stipulates that green power has a priority over conventional power.

The “Schönauer Stromrebellen” (the Power Rebels of Schönau, a small town in the Black Forest) form a ground-roots movement to buy back their local grid.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems builds an off-grid solar home in Freiburg, Germany to demonstrate that a normal family could meet all of their energy needs at home from renewables.

After the Greens and the Social Democrats had called for a nuclear phase-out in the 1980s, Energy Consensus Talks began on the future of nuclear power in Germany. The conservative government invited the opposition parties to sit at the table with representatives of utilities with nuclear assets.

KfW, a state-owned development bank, launches its Carbon Reduction Program to support refurbishment of housing stock, particularly in the former German Democratic Republic.

The Power Rebels of Schönau finally get control of their local grid and begin ramping up renewables.

The German power market is “liberalized,” meaning, for instance, that power firms and grid operators have to be legally separate entities; for renewables, the change meant that new power providers could go into business selling only green electricity; despite liberalization, the country does without a regulatory body for seven years.

The 100,000 Solar Roofs Program gets the solar market going in Germany. In addition, the Market Incentive Program is launched, a multimillion financial support scheme for renewable heating systems.

Germany implements an “eco-tax”; each year, a few cents are added to the price of a liter of gasoline and to a kilowatt-hour of fossil–based electricity; the result is greater sales of fuel-efficient cars and slightly lower overall consumption.

Drawn up by the Social Democrats and the Greens under Chancellor Schroeder, the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) replaces the Feed-in Act and specifies that the rates paid will be linked to the cost of the investment, not to the retail rate.

Chancellor Schroeder’s coalition reaches an agreement with nuclear plant owners to phase out Germany’s nuclear plants by roughly 2022.

The European Court of Justice confirms that feed-in tariffs “do not constitute State aid” and are therefore legal. 

The Initiative Energieeffizienz is established, focusing on the promotion of end use efficiency in households and commerce.

Adoption of the Heat-Power Cogeneration Act. With two subsequent amendments, it is the most important instrument to support combined heat and power.

Photovoltaics is taken up without restriction in the EEG.

Germany’s Network Agency, which previously monitored telecommunications and postal services, starts overseeing the power grid and gas market, partly to settle a dispute about green fees related to renewable power.

The EU launches its emissions trading system.

Germany’s Integrated Energy and Climate Program defines new targets, policies and support schemes for efficiency and renewables.

The EEG is amended for the first time without input from the Social Democrats or the Greens; the new law increasingly focuses on what Chancellor Merkel’s coalition understands as “market instruments.”

The Renewable Energy Sources Act for Heat is the first law explicitly addressing Renewable Heating, requiring builders to implement renewable heating systems. 

Adoption of the Eco-design of Energy-using Products Act, which implements the European ecodesign directive in German law. 

Chancellor Merkel’s coalition resolves to extend the commissions of Germany’s remaining 17 nuclear plants by 8 to 14 years. 

The Sustainability Ordinance for biomass addresses the issue of sustainable biomass production.

The Special Energy and Climate Fund, the first German efficiency fund, is created and funded by revenue from carbon emission certificates. Due to the low price level of these certificates, the fund’s volume is cut in half. Chancellor Merkel also nullifies the nuclear phase-out of 2002 by extending the lives of nuclear power plants.

The nuclear accident in Fukushima causes Chancellor Merkel to reverse her position on nuclear and adopt a somewhat more rushed phase-out of nuclear power than under Chancellor Schroeder’s scheme; 40 percent of nuclear generating capacity is switched off for good within a week, with the last plant to be shut down roughly in 2022.

Germany sets new world record for solar power generation (50%) in May.

In January, the surcharge for renewables increases to 5.3 cents per kWh. German power exports also increased by nearly 50 percent.

Surcharge for renewables increases to 6.3 cents per kWh. The EEG is amended in August, and the new government adopts a Climate Action Plan and a National Efficiency Plan in December.

As part of the amended EEG, the first auction for large PV power plants takes place. Germany introduces a package of new energy efficiency instruments, such as a new support program for the modernization of non-residential buildings. In a compromise with industry and unions, several brown coal plants are decommissioned and others are designated to be used as backup power.

Germany conducts its first auctions for onshore and offshore wind with bids dropping from 5.71 cents/kwh to 4.29cents/kwh, to a zero-subsidy bid from Danish company Ørsted to build offshore wind in the North Sea.

The German Coal Commission is established and tasked with organizing a just transition from coal to renewable energy, as well as a phaseout date. This year, energy from renewables outstripped energy from coal, and the country was powered by 100% renewable energy on two separate occasions. The last hard coal mines in the country close.