Research Project: The Shift to Renewable Energy in Germany and France within the Context of drafting European Energy Policy

Energy transformation – also called “energiewende” or “transition énérgétique,” depending on which side of the Rhine you are on – is a topic of pressing importance for the European Union. How will Germany and France meet the goals of the EU’s Climate Change and Energy Package? What energy mix should be used? What challenges are currently confronting scientists, political decision makers, energy regulators, and those responsible for the production, transport, and distribution of energy?

This research project is devoted to answering these questions and explores Franco-German cooperation on drafting energy policy at the EU level. Decisions relating to energy policy in other countries, including Great Britain, Austria, and Poland are also being examined.

The project is scheduled to run until 2016. It is led by CIRAC (Centre d’information et de recherche sur l’Allemagne contemporaine – Center for information and research on contemporary Germany), together with the DGAP’s program for Franco-German Relations.  It is further supported by the Paris-based CIERA (Centre interdisciplinaire d’études et de recherches sur l’Allemagne – Center for interdisciplinary studies and research on Germany) and the research center CICC (Civilisations et identités culturelles compares – center for comparative cultural civilizations and identity) based at Cergy-Pontoise University.

A conference in Berlin on September 24, 2015 will focus on the new challenges facing the gas and electricity sectors in Germany and France and take place within the framework of the DGAP’s Regular Discussion Group on France and Franco-German Relations.  An additional panel will examine the COP21 UN climate conference that takes place in Paris at the end of 2015. The project concludes in the spring of 2016 with a colloquium specifically addressing Franco-German cooperation on the drafting of energy policy at the level of the European community.

A workshop held in Paris in April 2015 was titled “German and French Energy Policy from the 1970s through the Energiewende” and received support from the Heinrich Heine Hause. It offered a opportunity to analyze the past four decades of French and German energy policy, particularly in response to the oil crises of 1973 and 1979–80, and it addressed the impact of those events on the development of the energy mix in both countries. Finally it examined current strategies for energy transition being applied on either side of the Rhine. The workshop involved both French and German experts (scientists, researchers, journalists, political and institutional decision makers) as well as interested graduate students and junior researchers. The workshop contributions will be published in a compendium.

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