Energy Transitions in Germany and the United States



Climate and Energy Director
Senior Fellow
Research Fellow

Electricity markets and policies are evolving rapidly on both sides of the Atlantic. The imperatives of energy security, climate and environmental stability, economic competitiveness, and social justice, together with technological innovation, have led European and U.S. societies to consider new ways of producing and using energy—dubbed “Energiewende” in German, or “Energy Transformation” in English.


Read the Strategy PaperRead the Event Summary  


Event Agenda and Attendees

Energy Transitions in Germany and the United States
December 9-10 2013

Energy Transitions in Germany and the United States 
December 9-10 2013


Transatlantic Strategic Dialogue
Worldwatch Institute
December 2013

Roundtable 1: Renewable Energy Support Mechanisms
December 2013

Roundtable 1: Renewable Energy Support Mechanisms
Ecological Institute
December 2013

Roundtable 2: Managing Electricity Demand and Energy Efficiency
Energy Future Coalition
December 2013

Agora Energiewende
October 2013

Roundtable 3: The Future of the Electric Power Industry
Hamburg Institut
December 2013

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Scaling Up Renewables in Europe and the United States
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December 2014

Climate Change Performance Index
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December 2014

Contesting Aviation’s Role in European Emission Trading
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November 2013

Connect to Climate & Energy  


While the broader goals are similar, European and U.S. approaches to electricity markets and policy have diverged, with an accompanying gulf in understanding and communication across the Atlantic. Despite its heterogeneity, the EU has managed to provide guidance for member state actions and has established ambitious, long-term, and mandatory targets for reducing carbon emissions and increasing efficiency and renewable energy. In the United States, various agendas have competed in the different branches of government and on different levels of decision making, and strategies have often changed in response to changing economic trends and political alignments. Yet despite the current boom in natural gas production (primarily unconventional shale gas), deployment of solar and wind energy has picked up momentum.



The goal of the 2013–14 Transatlantic Strategic Dialogue is to close the knowledge and information gap by bringing together experts, advocates, and policymakers from Europe and the United States to discuss recent policy and market trends, as well as likely and desirable future developments. Both sides have important successes and challenges to report, from which each can learn.


This dialogue aims to achieve this goal by:

  • Defining the issue areas a) that are the most crucial to achieve broader development goals, b) where a high degree of misunderstanding exists, c) where transatlantic differences are the largest, and/or d) where transatlantic cooperation might have the most potential to create positive change;
  • Defining the key audiences that can help spread the knowledge and information on key developments on both sides of the Atlantic as a means to successfully counter ongoing, and increasingly dominating, climate and energy myths;
  • Facilitating transatlantic deep dives on a limited number of key topics within the larger issue areas defined; and Managing a transatlantic outreach and communication strategy where agreement and implementation of best

Key Findings to Date

  • Renewable capacity growing at robust pace in both countries
  • Renewables now at or below price parity with fossils
  • Around 400,000 green energy jobs already created in both countries
  • Germany replaced nuclear energy by renewables; increase in coal usage small and temporary
  • Balanced portfolio of revised and/or new policies required to continue the transition toward renewable technologies
  • Effective incentives and standards needed to support further investments in efficiency
  • Demand-side management requires more attention, will be key for the transition
  • Increase in distributed generation calls conventional utility model into question
  • New business models and market rules needed to secure affordable, reliable and sustainable generation, transmission & distribution, and consumption


Energy Transitions in Germany and the United States
May 2014
Energy Transitions in Germany and the United States: Transatlantic Perspectives, Challenges, and the Way Forward
July 2014


July 2014


Strategy Memo

July 2014