Transforming the Energy System for the Future: Insights and Lessons Learned from the German Energiewende

Jan 28, 2017

Dr. Annegret Groebel lectures about German energy transition at GA Tech Enlarge image Dr. Annegret Groebel lectures at GA Tech (© On January 18th, the German Consulate General Atlanta organized two events with Dr. Annegret Groebel, Head of Department for International Relations of the Federal Network Agency for Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, Postal and Railway, the German Regulatory Authority. Dr. Groebel provided insights into the complex topic of the “Energiewende” (Energy Transition) during a luncheon at Georgia Tech and an evening lecture at The Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta.

German energy transition lecture at GA Tech Enlarge image (© During the lecture at the Instructional Center at Georgia Tech, co-organized by Professpr Alasdaie Young of the Center of European and Transatlantic Studies, Dr. Groebel explained the decisions that were made in Germany as a result of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, including the goal to shut down all nuclear facilities by 2022. In its efforts to replace the 17% of the energy production created by nuclear power, Germany increasingly looks to renewable sources, most notably wind and solar power. Germany's goal is to increase its renewable energy production from currently 34% to 80% by 2050.

(left to right) Alasdair Young (Co-Director, Center for European and Transatlantic Studies), Dr. Annegret Groebel and Consul General Detlev Ruenger Enlarge image (left to right) Alasdair Young (Co-Director, Center for European and Transatlantic Studies), Dr. Annegret Groebel and Consul General Detlev Ruenger (© Furthermore, Dr. Groebel outlined numerous legislative measures that had to be taken to accelerate the expansion of the German grid to accommodate additional energy production through renewable sources. The Federal Network Agency, for instance, is involved in the planning and approval of new high voltage transmission lines. One of the purposes of these lines is to move energy from the wind-producing northern parts of Germany to the industrial consumers in southern Germany.

Five years after the start of the “Energiewende,” Dr. Groebel was able to look back and share some of the lessons that Germany had learned in the process. Two of the challenges had been to synchronize the growth of renewables and the expansion of the grid in a timely manner and to balance the sometimes overproduction from renewables and the resulting negative prices for electricity.

For the second event, the Consulate invited guests in partnership with the Atlanta Science Tavern to a “European Science Café”at the Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta. In his opening remarks for the 100 attendees, Consul General Detlev Ruenger unterlined the broad public consensus for the exit from nuclear power in Germany.

In addition to the content of her lunch presentation, Dr. Groebel spoke about the pace of extending the grid, which was slowed down by the wellknown NIMBY-effect (Not In My Back Yard). She recalled local protest due to the invasive nature of the construction of new high voltage transmission lines. Her recommendation was to have early involvement of the public at the planning stages. In her role as CEER Vice-President (EU Energy Regulatory Body) and ACER Vice-Chair Board of Regulators (EU Agency for Cooperation of Energy Regulators) she gave valuable insights into the close European and international cooperation on cross-border transmission and security of supply.

Mirko Schueppel, CFO of Siemens Energy Enlarge image Mirko Schueppel, CFO of Siemens Energy (© Mirko Schueppel, CFO of Siemens Energy in Atlanta presented relevant information on Siemens know-how, technology and developments in grid enhancement and smart technology. He also touched upon cyber security for the infrastructure and showcased existing Siemens projects on the ground.

The event concluded with a lively Q&A session between the experts and the knowledgeable audience.

Dr. Groebel also traveled to Houston and Miami to present her findings to audiences in those two cities.


Transforming the Energy System for the Future

Atlanta Skyline (c) picture-alliance/Chad Ehlers

Climate, Energy, Environment

Protecting climate and environment

Climate protection, promotion of renewable energy sources and protection of the environment are major focal points of German Government policy. These policies have also become a driving force for German businesses, which are already at the forefront of innovation and job creation in the field.