Successfully expanding renewable energies

Last year, half of Germany’s electricity requirement was met from renewable energies. The energy transition, in other words, has got off to a good start. Even so, faster progress must be made on the renewables expansion in order to reach Germany’s climate targets. What can be done to pick up the pace, and what is the current status of the expansion in Germany? Moritz Vogel provides answers in the new episode of the Oeko-Institut’s “Wenden bitte!” podcast.

Mehr Tempo bei der Energiewende?” – “Faster progress on the energy transition?” Oeko-Institut podcast

The podcast audio is in German; an English translation is here.

Germany’s Renewable Energy Sources Act sets out the expansion targets: for onshore wind energy, the goal is 115 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 – roughly double the current figure. For photovoltaics, a staggering threefold increase is envisaged, from the current 80 GW to 215 GW by 2030.

In 2023, the targets for solar power were reached early and we are on the right track. However, the 2023 targets for wind energy expansion were missed, so we will have to add even more capacity this year.
Moritz Vogel
Senior Researcher, Energy & Climate

Dealing with expansion challenges

In order to reach the targets, four major challenges must be overcome: approval processes, land availability, acceptance, and availability of renewable energy equipment. For example, the public authorities currently face a large influx of applications, but there are not enough staff to deal with them. Furthermore, intensive reviews are required to ensure that decisions are safe from legal challenges. It’s a time-consuming process. “The authorities must able to scrutinise the applications and issue permits for the plants at a satisfactory pace. Backing from the authority is also important for staff members who are confronted with legal challenges,” says Moritz Vogel in the latest podcast episode.

Harmonising the diverse rules in place in Germany’s regional states (Länder) is also recommended, as is ensuring that they protect people while facilitating, rather than slowing, the renewables expansion. The opportunities and benefits associated with renewable energies must be felt by everyone. “It must be financially viable for local authorities and citizens to expand renewable energies and use the proceeds from their shareholdings to fund a new open-air swimming pool, for example,” Moritz Vogel explains.

Bringing the public on board

In order to secure public buy-in for the expansion, open-ended planning is essential. Here, it is important to consider local circumstances: the installations should be located at sites that do not have particular significance for the community. What’s more, photovoltaics can be installed at locations where they serve a dual purpose, such as protecting apple trees from hail.

“The energy transition is not just a climate change mitigation mechanism; it is also a participatory and redistribution mechanism which offers opportunities for local authorities that are less well-resourced,” scientist Moritz Vogel concludes.

Knowledge rather than everyday advice

The Oeko-Institut's “Wenden bitte!” (“All change please!”) podcast is aimed at listeners from politics, science, the media, NGOs and the general public – anyone with an interest in political and environmental issues. Co-presenters of the podcast are Nadine Kreutzer, journalist and presenter, and Mandy Schossig, Head of Public Relations & Communications at the Oeko-Institut. For about an hour – enough time for the “long haul of environmental podcasts” – they talk with one of the Oeko-Institut’s experts about upcoming transformations towards sustainability.

The “Wenden bitte!” (“All change please!”) podcast: Episodes of Season 4

Episode 1: Think global, act local: How does successful environmental policy work? with Andreas Manhart, released 25 January 2024

Episode 2: "Faster progress on the energy transition?" with Moritz Vogel, released 14 March 2024

All seasons and episodes are at

The podcast is available on all the usual podcast portals – such as Apple Podcasts and Spotify