How can Germany be both a green leader and remain an industrial powerhouse?
Renewables are lowering the wholesale power rate, which firms pay, and energy-intensive firms are largely exempt from the surcharge for renewable power. Energy-intensive industries therefore benefit from the cheaper electricity that renewable energy provides.
Heavy industry also benefits from renewables in a number of other ways. Technologies like wind, solar, biogas, and geothermal power provide economic opportunities for traditional industries. For instance, wind turbine manufacturers are now the second largest purchaser of steel behind the automotive sector. A number of struggling ports in Germany are also positioning themselves for the offshore wind sector. The solar sector will support industries ranging from glass to ceramics, and farming communities will benefit not only from biomass, but also from wind and solar. The copper sector is also poised to benefit from the switch to renewables. Thus, switching to renewable energy does not only result in developing new industries like solar manufacturing. These technologies also provide opportunities for traditional industries to become part of the transition to a renewable energy future.
Overall, Germans believe that high-tech green technologies are an industry for the future and see no contradiction between ecology and economics.