Published on November 22nd, 2013 | by Thomas Gerke

Welcome To The Energiewende — The Movie

November 22nd, 2013 by  

The accelerated phase-out of nuclear power following the nuclear disaster in Japan has put German energy policy on the map for many people. Since then, the word “Energiewende” has even become a new loanword in the English language. Despite the increase in international attention, many reports about the Energiewende miss the mark by not knowing German energy policy history or simply not understanding the Zeitgeist of the energy debate in Germany. Fortunately, that’s exactly what the new documentary “Welcome to the Energiewende,” by the very insightful journalist Craig Morris, is all about.

The Energiewende Movie

“Welcome to the Energiewende” is a 50-minute documentary split into 19 short chapters which make up a relatively consistent movie experience when watched in sequence. A road trip through Germany serves as the backdrop, and instead of focusing on technological challenges, the movie focuses on possibilities and what has been driving change in Germany for the last couple of decades. It does so in a fun and very accessible way.

Welcome to the Energiewende - Chapter 01

Chapter 2 — Vauban district in Freiburg, Germany

The first part of the movie looks at efficiency in buildings and how modern urban planning can enhance quality of life and individual energy independence. This is a very important pillar of the Energiewende which usually gets far too little attention.

Welcome to the Energiewende - Chapter 08

Chapter 8 — 100% Renewable Energy Community

The movie then looks at community power projects for wind, solar, and bioenergy. These projects make up more than 50% of Germany’s renewable energy capacity. At this point, the movie also takes a detour to addresses some popular anti-renewable misconceptions.

Welcome to the Energiewende - Chapter 09

Chapter 9 — Visitng the Power Rebels (“Stromrebellen”)

This brings us to the third and most important part of the movie, in which it explores the history of the German energy-democracy movements. It looks at the roots of the anti-nuclear movement, which was kicked off in the 1970s by acts of civil disobedience against authoritarian politicians in Germany’s conservative heartland.  The movie also visits the village/town of Schönau, where citizens took over their local distribution grid in the 1990s. That’s where the so called “Stromrebellen” (power rebels) won a decade-long struggle against a powerful energy corporation, setting a powerful precedent for community-driven citizen takeovers of energy infrastructure (energy democracy).

The last part of the movie gives some interesting cultural, global, and personal perspectives on Germany and the Energiewende, before ending on an optimistic and hopeful tune.

My Thoughts

In my opinion, the movie does a great job at conveying the message that the German Energiewende story is more complex than what we are often made to believe in the international and even the German mainstream press.

Considering the production constrains of an indie-movie project and the sheer number of topics to cover, it does a good job of staying focused. While it’s not a documentary film made for the big screen, it’s an insightful presentation that provides a lot of value for the interested viewer. This is especially true since it avoids the danger of getting lost in technical details we all love and focuses on an optimistic non-technocratic perspective of the Energiewende instead.

The worst thing about this movie is probably the fact that there isn’t more of it. There are so many more aspects and current developments that are worthy of being covered, and Craig Morris of Renewables International is one of the most insightful journalists around, doing his best to cover the “whole story” for international readers.

So, please check out the movie and enjoy an hour of “crazy” Germans standing up for what they feel is right, changing their country one step at a time in the process – from the bottom to the top (eventually).

To watch “Welcome to the Energiewende” head over to the movie page.

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About the Author

is a close observer of the scientific, political and economic energy debate in Germany and around the globe. Inspired by the life's work of the renewable energy advocate Hermann Scheer, Thomas focuses on spreading information that showcase the possibilities & opportunities of a 100% renewable energy system. Though technology is key for this energy shift, he also looks at the socio-economic benefits and the political, as well as structural barriers.

  • AlbanSW19

    go out of your way to see Craig Morris’s superb, funny 50 minute film,
    “Welcome to the Energiewende’. Surprising, charming, light on its feet, Morris’ documentary demonstrates
    that a better world is not only possible, but that Germans have been building it,
    while middle England stews in atomised apathy. All we need is Germany’s recent tradition of strong local democracy
    and activism far stronger than the UK’s, and our neighbours’ determination to
    give a coherent, constructive “No” to greedy, abusive multinationals.
    As US expatriates in Freiburg, SW Germany, Craig, Pascale & Josh
    Morris, plus Indian exchange student Nilay deserve – if not an Oscar, then perhaps that Goldman Medal which President Obama
    presented to their near neighbour, Ursula Sladek of Schoenau, a couple of years
    ago for environmental achievement. Morris
    asking his teenaged daughter to interview people might seem cheesy: but Pascale’s fluent German elicits
    straightforward, illuminating answers, whether from pastors – (organised
    Christianity is revealed to have been critical to German communities’ success in seizing
    control of their energy) – from a social housing supervisor, to the manager of 300
    solar homes in one village, to campaigners.
    From inaudible ‘white asparagus’ turbines yielding zero impact on still-beautiful
    landscapes, to clever buildings routinely making more electricity than they
    consume, to an ornate,vast Baroque church heated by cow
    dung – every chapter contains a revelation. Overwhelming is Morris’ demonstration that
    conservatives and the conservation of creation should be of one cloth. Conservative
    opposition to renewable energy, the director implies, is knee-jerk
    subjectivity, not intelligent individualism. (One warning: shots of a middle-aged man
    dancing may distress some viewers. The song was terrific, though). Treat
    yourself, and see ‘Welcome to the Energiewende’. Outstandingly good, a
    non-fiction film with a happy ending, which – just like our intelligent German
    neighbours – we Britons can join in, and build. – Alban Thurston

  • Matthew

    When and where can we watch this?

    • driveby

      you should re-read last sentence of the article.. 😉

  • Rob

    When the whole world joins with Germany it will become “The Great Energy Transition”!

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