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New Energy’s Editor-in-Chief Jörg-Rainer Zimmermann talks about Germany’s renewable energy

With only a few weeks to go before Frankfurt Messe opens its doors to the offshore wind industry, we asked New Energy’s Editor-in-Chief Jörg-Rainer Zimmermann about Germany’s renewable energy market and the critical issues facing the offshore wind energy sector.

Q: What attracted you to the world of renewable energy journalism?

Renewables are one of the most important topics of today and tomorrow, as they will change our world completely. It is hard to find a more fascinating field, since it includes politics, economics, technology, climate research and many other fields.

Q: Germany is currently negotiating a coalition government: do you think it will come out in favour of a 2030 binding renewables target?

At the moment, many Germans are afraid that a coalition of the conservative CDU and the social-democratic SPD could end up with a coal-friendly policy. And this of course could interfere with ambitious goals for 2030.

Q: There has been some discussion on the EEG in Germany this year, and other EU governments are cutting or changing renewable energy support. Is this justified in your opinion?

No, absolutely not. It has been said very often before: the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) is a well-functioning and successful model for the support of renewables in many other countries. It has proved that feed-in tariffs are able to speed up the installation of PV and wind turbines. And this is what we need to achieve the ‘Energiewende’ – the switch to renewables – on a global scale, simply because we have to stop climate change. And because renewables are able to create a large number of new jobs. So I definitely think that other countries should follow Germany’s lead on the ‘Energiewende’.

Q: What role will offshore wind play in this for Germany?

Offshore is an absolutely essential part of the system, not right at the moment, but in ten, twenty years’ time.

Q: EWEA OFFSHORE 2013 takes place in Frankfurt and is all about financing. Will the sector get the financing it needs?

This comes back to the question about the agenda of the new German government. If the CDU and SPD secure a stable legal framework, if the changes to the EEG are not too severe, then a feeling of trust might be restored and investors might come back. At the moment, there is a lot of fear, and this is not healthy for both on- and offshore projects.

Q: What are the other critical issues facing the offshore wind industry in Europe?

Besides the fact that there is still a huge amount of unsolved technical questions, one important issue is the expansion of the grid on a European level. The coordination still doesn’t work well, although there is ACER at Ljubljana. And in case Brussels doesn’t intend to play a stronger role, these coordination problems will continue.

Q: What role do you think the EWEA OFFSHORE 2013 event plays for the offshore industry?

This is simple to answer – it’s one of the most important meetings of this sector.


Jörg-Rainer Zimmermann was born in 1967 in Stuttgart. After studying German and philosophy at Freie Universität Berlin, Jörg-Rainer worked for leading newspapers in Berlin/Brandenburg (including Berliner Morgenpost/Die Welt, MAZ, MOZ). Before joining the neue energie team in 2010, he served as economics editor. Since August 2012 he is Editor-in-chief of Germany’s leading trade magazine for the renewables sector neue energie/new energy.

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