Germany’s energy transition: Sunny, windy, costly and dirty

Gabriel in search of an energy miracle

SIGMAR GABRIEL has been on a roll. The boss of Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) has herded his party into a coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel and become vice-chancellor. He is jovial, convivial and aligned with the Zeitgeist. Demonstrating the SPD’s vision of work-life balance, he plans to take Wednesday afternoons off to pick up his two-year-old daughter from her crèche.But Mr Gabriel, who is mulling a run for chancellor in 2017, will by then be judged on a more daring project. As part of his coalition deal with Mrs Merkel, he is now a “super minister” combining two portfolios, energy and the economy. He is thus in charge of rescuing Germany’s most ambitious and risky domestic reform: the simultaneous exits from nuclear and fossil-fuel energy, collectively known as the Energiewende, a term that means energy “turn” or “revolution”.More a marketing slogan than a coherent policy, the Energiewende is mainly a set of timetables for different goals. Germany’s last nuclear plant is to be switched off in 2022….

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