Investment and the Energy Transition


The Energiewende (energy transition) is considered one of the major social challenges of our times. In 2010, German federal government decided that the country’s power demand in 2050 shall be met primarily by renewable energy, and that greenhouse gas emissions shall be cut by 80 to 95 percent. The direction that will be taken in these coming years, in favor of or against the expansion of energy efficiency, renewable energy or smart grids, will have significant influence on whether these targets can be met in a cost-effective manner.

A multitude of studies suggests that obstacles for the energy transition emerge mainly through policy frameworks. Furthermore, the financial and economic crisis has impaired the investment climate. While low interest rates have left finance and insurance companies in search of investment opportunities with higher returns, there is a growing capital demand for green and sustainable technologies. At the same time, German utilities as well as the automobile and steel industry are forced to reform their current fossile based and high emission structures.

Concept & Approach

The Global Climate Forum and Germanwatch deal with these issues in the research project “Investment and the Energy Transition” that bridges general equilibrium theory and Keynesian approaches on the coordination of expectations. A major focus lies on the thesis that the successful re-coordination of stakeholder’s expectations can initiate a transition from the current equilibrium characterized by low growth and high CO2 emissions to a prospering low-carbon-economy.

Through qualitative dialogues with relevant stakeholder’s from industry, civil society and the finance sector, we examine chances and obstacles of the energy transition as well as the influence of expectations on investment decisions. In a second step, we deal with acceptance and policy frameworks necessary to successfully realize a transition of the energy sector.

Finally, we want our dialogues to foster a fertile ground for ideas regarding business models for the energy transition in Germany and Europe.

Through dialogues, workshops and focus groups we aim at answering the following questions:

  1. What are the main obstacles for investment in energy transition with regard to policy frameworks and general acceptance in society? What are adequate ways to overcome these obstacles?
  2. Does a lack of investment security and continuity pose a substantial obstacle?
  3. To what extent does the financial and economic crisis jeopardize the energy transition?
  4. Can the energy transition help in overcoming the financial and economic crisis, and if so, in what way?
  5. How can the coordination of expectations contribute to generating new economically and ecologically sustainable business models for the energy transition and green growth?

Together with our stakeholders, we continuously identify new relevant partners that can play an important role in a success of the energy transition.

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