Nov 9, 2022 • 58M

Germany's current energy situation & its past energy choices

A conversation with German energy economist Claudia Kemfert.

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Earlier this year, I spent some time in Germany, riding scooters around Berlin and Hamburg. From that vantage point, everything seems delightful, but from a broader point of view, the country is struggling.


The Ukraine war has seen Germany's supply of methane gas from Russia cut off. Energy prices have spiked as Germany scrambles to make up the deficit. Some people have taken this to mean that Germany was wrong to move away from fossil fuels as quickly as it has. Others have said it shows that Germany needs to double down on its transition to renewables.

Prof. Claudia Kemfert
Prof. Claudia Kemfert

To get a better sense of Germany's current situation and what it says about the choices it has made on energy, I contacted Professor Claudia Kemfert, who teaches energy economics at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and heads the energy, transportation, and environment department at the German Institute for Economic Research.

Kemfert, a high-level advisor to the European Commission, is known as one of Germany's top energy analysts. We talked about Germany's choices on nuclear and gas, the situation it faces this coming winter, and the policies that could help it recover and get back on track to hit its emissions goals.