Energy policy

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Energy policy describes the policy of local authorities (e.g. a city, a district, a federal state, the Federal Republic), a party or a supranational institution (e.g. EU, EU Commission). This policy can lead to political units adopting binding regulations for the system of generation, conversion, distribution and use of energy . In a broader sense, energy policy relates to the entirety of the institutional conditions, forces and endeavors aimed at making socially binding decisions about the structure and development of the supply, distribution and use of energy.


Dependence of the energy supply on imports in Europe

Energy policy is a sectoral structural policy and a special component of economic policy with links to environmental and climate policy as well as development , transport , social and technology policy . Since energy trading implies international dependencies, energy policy is also linked to foreign and security policy. As in other western countries , the energy industry in Europe is influenced to a large extent by state intervention, either directly or indirectly. However, as soon as important energy sectors are no longer nationalized (unlike in France or Italy ), the state's energy policy is limited to a regulatory policy based on do's and don'ts, indirect control (for example, through incentives, support measures , definition of competition rules ) and more procedural ones Control.

On a global level, energy policy is characterized by competition for access to fossil fuels . A new challenge lies in the maximum oil production , which can lead to massive price increases and even supply bottlenecks due to the current great dependence of the economy on oil .

Basic theories

Analytically one can differentiate between a demand-oriented energy policy and a supply-oriented energy policy.

  • A demand-oriented energy policy is based on the given demand and in no way calls it into question; To be on the safe side, overcapacities are built up in the power plant and line area. In this respect, the demand-oriented energy policy is strongly oriented towards the goal of ensuring energy security .
  • On the other hand, supply-oriented energy policy is based on the analysis of how much energy is available under which conditions and, in the event of undersupply, tries to influence demand with demand-side management (e.g. energy allocation, requests for energy savings and increased energy efficiency ). The supply-oriented approach is thus closer to an ecological energy policy.


Among the instruments of energy policy was one in the Western industrialized countries for a long time - by the guideline social market economy far different - the exclusivity policy as market regulation instrument . This was made clear above all by the regulation of the line-based energy supply for electricity and gas . The underlying legal system , which in Germany until 1998 was essentially based on the 1935 Law for the Promotion of the Energy Industry , enabled energy-producing companies to set up supply areas and protected them through a tightly knit network of restrictive or exclusive contracts. This situation changed fundamentally with the liberalization of the energy markets initiated by the EU in 1998. Since then, only the operation of the transmission and distribution grids has been organized in regional monopolies in the member states of the EU , while electricity generation and sales to end customers have been opened up to competition.

Specific laws, such as the Renewable Energy Sources Act and the Energy Saving Ordinance in Germany, should lead to a rational use of energy and a change in the energy mix.

Energy policy in the European Union

European Union


Legislation and sovereigns

The statutory regulation of the energy industry in Germany is part of competing legislation ( Art. 74 (1) No. 11 GG ). The federal government has exercised the legislation through the Energy Industry Act, among other things . The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is in charge of this (renamed after the federal election in 2013 ; before that it was temporarily called the 'Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Technology'). According to the current organizational decree of the Federal Chancellor , this Federal Ministry is also in charge of energy research . The Federal Ministry of Education and Research carries out energy research in the field of large research institutions according to the programmatic specifications of the Federal Ministry of Economics. Due to the competing legislation, the states have their own creative leeway and can also participate in federal legislation via the Federal Council and at least raise objections and appeal to the mediation committee even in the case of laws that do not require approval (e.g. EEG ) .

Air pollution control and climate protection are closely linked to energy policy . These, too, are to be assigned to the competing legislation ( Art. 74 (1) No. 24 GG). The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety had temporarily been given responsibility for renewable energies and the responsibility for the Renewable Energy Sources Act from the Federal Ministry of Economics; the Federal Ministry of Economics has been responsible again since December 2013.

One source of energy is nuclear energy . According to Art. 73, Paragraph 1, No. 14 of the Basic Law, the Federation is entitled to the legislation on the generation and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, the construction and operation of plants that serve these purposes, for protection against dangers arising from the release of nuclear energy or caused by ionizing radiation and the treatment of radioactive substances (see final storage , interim storage , reprocessing ). According to the Federal Chancellor's organizational decree, the Federal Environment Ministry performs this task.

According to Article 74, Paragraph 1, No. 17 of the Basic Law, the federal government is entitled to promote agricultural and forestry production. This also includes biofuels . According to the organizational decree (as of when?) The Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection performs this task.

In principle, the federal states implement the federal laws as a separate matter, unless the Basic Law stipulates or permits otherwise ( Art. 83 GG).

Laws passed on the basis of Article 73, Paragraph 1, No. 14 of the Basic Law can, with the consent of the Bundesrat, stipulate that they are to be implemented by the Länder on behalf of the Federation. The federal government took advantage of this option by enacting the Atomic Energy Act .

Energy sources and energy consumption

Primary energy consumption by energy source in Germany (%)
Energy source 2007 2008 2009 2010
mineral oil 32.7 36.0 34.7 33.6
Natural gas, petroleum gas 22.1 18.0 21.9 21.8
Brown coal 11.4 11.4 11.3 10.7
Nuclear energy 10.9 11.9 11.0 10.9
Hydro and wind power 1) 3) 1.6 1.7 1.5
Other renewables 2) 6.3 6.7 7.3
Foreign trade balance electricity −0.5 −0.6 −0.4

1) Wind power from 1995
2) including firewood, peat, sewage sludge, rubbish, other gases
3) including photovoltaics

The special significance of energy as momentum of economic activity and the life in a complex society document the relevant statistics of energy consumption :

Measured in terms of per capita energy consumption, Germany is one of the largest energy consumers worldwide due to its high level of economic development, its high export surplus and its poorly insulated properties.

The primary energy consumption (PEC) in 2006 amounted to 14,464 Peta joule , 2007 14 128 2008 14 189 and 2009 13 341 petajoules. The economic crisis made itself felt in 2009 and 2010.

The 'Arbeitsgemeinschaft Energiebilanzen' publishes current figures on a regular basis.

The federal government has set itself the goal of reducing the PEV by 20% in 2020 and by 50% in 2050 compared to 2008.

Consensus and dissent

In Germany, as in Europe, there is broad consensus between the established parties about the target triangle of energy policy ( security of supply , economic efficiency / competitiveness and environmental compatibility ) . In contrast, the means to achieve goals and the choice of alternatives in the event of conflicting goals , for example in the conflict between economic efficiency and environmental compatibility, are controversial . Above all, testify to this

  • the dispute over the generation and use of nuclear energy since the 1970s (" nuclear conflict "),
  • the lack of political will to find and develop a suitable repository for radioactive waste in Germany or to decide against a nuclear waste storage facility in Gorleben and to look for another location, and
  • the decision-making blocks when finding a medium and long-term sustainable energy concept as well as the limitation and fair distribution of energy cost increases.

Fragmentation and incoherence

Energy policy can be characterized under the procedural ( politics ) and the decision- making aspect ( policy ) with a high degree of fragmentation , punctual intervention and an addition of inconsistent and often contradicting individual efforts. The system of step-by-step policy adjustments and changes ( incrementalism ) given here has apparently so far been sufficiently efficient to ensure security of supply and to bring about trend reversals . One example is the reduction in dependence on oil in response to the oil price shocks of 1973 and 1979.

In Germany, fragmentation and incoherence due to the interaction between the federal states and the federal government are stronger than in other countries: countries like France are organized in a more centralized manner; in many countries, smaller populations or smaller areas favor a coherent energy policy.

In North Rhine-Westphalia , for example, two changes of government within five years (2005 and 2010), including the associated coalition negotiations and personnel changes in the ministries and in the state parliament, ensured that many energy policy views were discussed again and in some cases revised.

Great Britain

Great Britain has large reserves of coal, natural gas and crude oil and, due to its island location, has many excellent wind locations on and offshore. Important energy sources are crude oil and natural gas, coal and nuclear energy, and increasingly also renewable energies, especially wind energy.

In 2003 the white paper on future energy supply rejected nuclear power as too expensive. In the 2005 election campaign , a rethinking process, which culminated in the summer of 2006 in a re-evaluation began. In addition to greater efforts in favor of renewable energies such as wind and water and "a quantum leap" in energy-saving programs (Tony Blair), the responsible Ministry of Industry has now also added a new generation of nuclear power plants to the energy mix of the future. 19 predominantly outdated nuclear reactors generated around 20 percent of the British electricity demand in 2007 ( see list of nuclear reactors in Great Britain ); 18 of them were to be shut down for reasons of age by 2023.

Due to the oil and gas deposits under the North Sea (see North Sea Oil and North Sea Gas ), Great Britain was one of the net exporters until 2004; In view of dwindling reserves, the country will get 90 percent of its natural gas from abroad, according to government calculations. Gas suppliers like Russia and Algeria are considered by many to be politically insecure.

Up until 2008, rising oil prices helped make new nuclear power plants look attractive. Since construction began, the EPRs in Finland ( Olkiluoto nuclear power plant ) and France ( Flamanville nuclear power plant ) have repeatedly made headlines with massive cost overruns and construction delays.

The financial crisis from 2007 onwards triggered an economic crisis in Great Britain . The country has had large trade deficits for years; from 2004 to 2011 alone (i.e. in eight years) around 1080 billion US dollars.

In March 2011, the Fukushima nuclear disaster rocked the world. Then - in March 2012 - E.ON and RWE gave up their plans to build new nuclear power plants in Great Britain. E.ON and RWE sold their shares in Horizon Nuclear Power to Hitachi . Peter Terium , RWE boss since July 1, 2012, distanced himself from the business policy of his predecessor Jürgen Großmann . Of the 16 operating nuclear reactors ( list here ), the oldest is to be decommissioned in 2015, Dungeness B1 and B2 in 2018.

Great Britain is a windy country; thanks to major technical advances in wind turbines , it can generate large parts of its electricity requirements onshore and / or offshore with wind energy. When it comes to offshore wind power, Great Britain is by far the leader in Europe (as of 2011) - plants with an output of 18 gigawatts are to be installed by 2020. (see also list of offshore wind farms )


With around 58 nuclear reactors, France generates around 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy (see nuclear energy in France ).

The massive expansion of nuclear power plants in France was not (as is often assumed) a reaction to the 1973/74 oil crisis . The reason was different: in 1969 the French Atomic Energy Commissioner (CEA) had around 3,000 employees. These were underemployed after the Force de frappe was armed. It was the endeavor of many French politicians to be as independent and self-sufficient as possible from the United States . One wanted to minimize the dependence on oil (since the Suez crisis (1956), the closure of the Suez Canal ( (1967-1975) and the decolonization of Africa (from 1961) this dependency was generally known. André Giraud became head of the atomic commission in 1971 and published in March Massive expansion plans in 1971. The following construction starts show the rapidity of expansion: Bugey II on November 1, 1972, Bugey III on September 1, 1973, Bugey IV on June 1, 1974, Bugey V on July 1, 1974. These four pressurized water reactors had one Net power of 3580 MW (910 + 910 + 880 + 880 MW). Seven French nuclear reactors went into operation in 1980, eight in 1981, two in 1982, four in 1983, six in 1985, four in 1985 and six in 1986 (37 together). The Fukushima nuclear disaster as well Cost explosions in the construction of the EPR in Finland helped to change France's energy policy: In January 2012, several industrial consortia submitted their bids for the construction and operation of five planned offshore wind farms from. The wind turbines with a capacity of three gigawatts are to be set up by 2016 . With the project, France wants to reduce its enormous gap to other industrialized countries in the use of wind energy . By 2020, the offshore output is to be increased to six gigawatts in addition to the wind turbines installed on land.


The Danish electricity from wind power does not receive a fixed remuneration - as in Germany - but is traded on the electricity exchange ' Nord Pool ' (Nordic power exchange). Each producer receives an eco bonus of 0.10 DKK / kWh (around 1.3 ct / kWh). is the only electricity network operator in Denmark and is completely state-owned. All profits, around one billion euros per year, remain in the hands of the state.


Energy policy in other countries


Energy policy magazines

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Energy policy  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  • Mischa Bechberger, Danyel Reiche (Ed.): Ecological Transformation of the Energy Industry - Success Conditions and Restrictions . Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-503-09313-3 .
  • Hans Günter Brauch (Hrsg.): Energy policy: technical development, political strategies, concepts for action on renewable energies and the rational use of energy , Berlin / Heidelberg 1997, ISBN 3-642-63850-3 .
  • Federal Center for Political Education (Ed.): Energy and Environment . Bonn 2013, ISSN  0046-9408 . (online at: )
  • Steffen Dagger: Energy policy & lobbying: The amendment of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) 2009. ibidem-Verlag, Stuttgart 2009, ISBN 978-3-8382-0057-6 .
  • Oliver Geden, Severin Fischer: The energy and climate policy of the European Union. Inventory and perspectives. Nomos, Baden-Baden 2008, ISBN 978-3-8329-3553-5 .
  • Martin Hermann (Hrsg.): Energy for Europe. The energy problem from an interdisciplinary point of view. IKS Garamond, Jena 2009, ISBN 978-3-938203-99-6 .
  • Verena Leila Holzer: European and German energy policy: an economic analysis of environmental policy instruments. (= European publications on the state and economy. Volume 22). Nomos, Baden-Baden 2007, ISBN 978-3-8329-2770-7 , doi: 10.5771 / 9783845202662 .
  • Danyel Reiche (Ed.): Fundamentals of energy policy . Verlag Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2005, ISBN 3-631-52858-2 .
  • Herbert Schmidt: Energy industry and energy policy in the present and future . Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1966.
  • The energy policy between competitiveness, security of supply and sustainability. German Institute for Economic Research. In: Quarterly magazine on economic research. 76, 1, 2007.
  • Hans-Josef Fell , Carsten Pfeiffer: Opportunity Energy Crisis - The Solar Way Out of the Fossil-Atomic Dead End. 1st edition. Solarpraxis, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-934595-64-2 .
  • Bontrup, Heinz-J., Marquardt, Ralf-M., The energy transition. Distribution conflicts, costs and consequences, Cologne 2015, ISBN 978-3-89438-574-3 .
  • Hans Rühle , Meinhard Miegel (Ed.): Energy policy in the market economy. Result of a conference of the Social Science Research Institute of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the Institute for Economic and Social Policy on May 29th, 30th 1979 in Bonn-Bad Godesberg (= Studies on Politics . Vol. 3). Verlag Bonn Aktuell, Stuttgart 1980, ISBN 3-87959-124-5 .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Wichard Woyke: Concise dictionary of international politics. Bonn 2008, p. 178.
  3. Arne Jungjohann: To govern ecologically. An analysis of the government practice of Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen in the field of ecological modernization. Heinrich Böll Foundation, January 15, 2019, accessed on February 4, 2019 .
  4. UGB - only with climate protection ( memento of the original dated December 7, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF file; 87 kB), Sylvia Kotting-Uhl (Member of the Bundestag, Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen)  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. Section II.
  6. BMWi Energy Statistics, page 4, as of August 9, 2010.
  7. Nationwide Heizspiegel 2010 / comparative values ​​for the accounting year 2009 ( Memento from May 24, 2010 in the Internet Archive ),
  8. Environment: Key figures compared over time
  9. Primary energy consumption in the Federal Republic of Germany - AG Energiebilanzen eV ( Memento of the original from May 13, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  10. Sustainable Development in Germany - Indicator Report 2012 (February 2012). PDF, 80 pages
  11. cf. Reiche: Basics of energy policy. 2005.
  12. The energy policy between competitiveness, security of supply and sustainability. 2007.
  13. See e.g. B. New energy policy agreed in North Rhine-Westphalia ( Memento of the original from August 22, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice., July 7, 2010. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  14. NRW-SPD: Coalition Agreement 2010–2015 ( Memento of the original of August 22, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  15. ↑ The British rely on wind, water - and nuclear power. on: , January 15, 2007.
  16. Great Britain: Trade balance from 2001 to 2011 (in billion US dollars) ,
  17. March 31, 2012: Eon and RWE stop nuclear plans in Great Britain
  18. New RWE boss no longer wants to build nuclear power plants. on: , June 18, 2012.
  19. Homepage of the operator ( Memento of the original from October 31, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  20. a b France plans massive expansion of wind energy. on: , January 11, 2012.
  21. ^ Danish Wind Industry Association: Market and Prices
  22. Denmark, the test laboratory for the energy transition. on: time online. September 26, 2012.