Energy Transition: Denmark, Spain and Portugal

IEEE Spectrum has published John Bernhardt’s and my article on the Energy Transition in Denmark, Spain and Portugal, the nations I consider to be leaders for the transition to renewables in the electricity sector.

This article was inspired by conversations around my critique of Vaclav Smil’s book “Energy Transitions”. One of my critiques of Smil is that he did not look at nations where the actual transition to renewables was happening, so to correct this I looked at the leading nations in Western Europe, which is the leading region for this transition.

And whereas Smil spoke of a “necessary slowness” (a claim I debunked in my review), my co-author and I instead show that the transition to renewable energy is a choice. At times, the speed in these three nations has been quite rapid. If it’s slow, this is because the political will is lacking.

I will note that some of the framing in the article is not what I would have chosen, and that as authors we didn’t write the headlines. Is Germany’s Energiewende stalling? No. But it has slowed down. Has the road been less than smooth? Of course. You don’t transform your electricity system without some speed bumps. Overall, Bernhardt and I consider Germany’s work (pre-Peter Altmaier and Sigmar Gabriel) to be a tremendous success.

Enough said. I recommend that you read the article:


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