What does the German Energy Transition mean for Jordan?
Yesterday in Amman Jordan’s renewable energy leaders discussed Germany’s energy transition. The key questions were how does the German Energy Transition work, what are the international reactions and what does it actually mean for Jordan? The workshop was organized by the Heinrich Böll Foundation and EDAMA.
I was honored to share the international reactions to Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear power and look at what have other countries done to accelerate the deployment of renewable energies. My conclusion: Policies are actually the driver of the energy transition not only in Germany but around the world. However, in countries like Jordan politics and good governance are the key issues to be tackled: As Raouf Dabbas from Friends of the Environment Society puts it “a policy in Jordan is something that is produced by 1-2 government officials that serves their interests.” And another participant from the conference added: “We have so many of these conferences and we always highlight the potential of renewables for Jordan. However, we can only progress with political will. And political will can only be built with people in place taking over responsibility. But our politicians are only in the job for a few weeks of months.”
The discussion proved again that Germany and its energy policy is being watched carefully. The message is clear: if Germany is successful with its ambitious plan, it will be a template for other countries.
The German feed-in tariff policy already became a blueprint for more than 80 countries and states worldwide. 118 countries – more than half of that in developing countries – have targets for renewable energies implemented (Global Status Report 2012). Countries like UK and the province of Ontario, Canada are just two cases that prove that the right regulatory framework can trigger investments and result in enormous socio-economic development if you get the policy design right and ensure investment security.
Germany has undoubtedly raised the bar with regards to strategizing energy sourcing, and setting the pace for renewable energy policies. “By going renewable, Germany has created more than 380,000 jobs, build up a world leading green technology sector, and has reduced the dependency on fossil fuel imports” Arne Jungjohann from the Heinrich Boell Foundation (Washington DC) highlighted at the conference. Today renewable energy (25%) provides more electricity than nuclear power (18%). “On sunny and windy days, half the country is powered by renewable energies” the US-based energy expert emphasized. Over the last years, Germany has created the largest solar PV market in the world and thus driven down costs by more than 65%. For countries like Jordan, a switch to solar PV and other renewables is much more affordable today than it was for Germany, given the decreasing technology costs and the sunshine the country has. “A solar panel installed in Jordan will produce around twice as much electricity as in Germany”, Jungjohann emphasized. For Jordan, solar PV may be the perfect technology as it provides power then when it is most needed: during the middle of the day
As the Arab country imports 98% of its energy needs energy security is a key issue in this politically unstable region. Batir Wardam from UNDP stressed that making use of renewable energies actually means increasing the usage of domestic energy sources. He sees Germany as a living example of which Jordan can learn from.
However, reality looks different in Jordan: Since 2008 the country increasingly looks towards nuclear power. Arne Jungjohann suggested that nuclear power would be a financial high-risk investment and a major obstacle for clean energies. “Around the world, investments into new nuclear power stations turn into financial disaster.” For Jordan, a path forward based on efficiency measures and promoting renewable energies is likely the best way for a clean, affordable, and reliable energy future.
Finally the debate in Amman showed that the underlying factors of the German energy transition are often overlooked. The secret to why an industrialized country with a huge energy demand can phase out nuclear power and rely on renewable energies in times of financial crisis is simple: by taking a decentralized approach and engaging a critical mass of citizens the energy transition results in regional value creation and therefore in socio-economic benefits across the country. In Germany there are 800 energy cooperatives that are the driver of the energy transition. FiTs are evidently acting as a connecting policy – linking people, policy, energy and economy. And that is exactly what is needed in Jordan: a regulatory framework that enables investors to put their money towards future-just and sustainable energy systems. Because the people are ready.
Wednesday, September 26th, 2012