Worker at wind turbine; Source: BMWi/Holger Vonderlind

© BMWi/Holger Vonderlind

The restructuring of Germany’s energy supply entails a large amount of investment. One of the impacts of these investments is to give a boost to growth and jobs in Germany. These effects on the German economy are subjected to a comprehensive empirical analysis in a study commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy entitled “Makroökonomische Wirkungen und Verteilungsfragen der Energiewende” (Macroeconomic effects and distributive aspects of the energy transition). The findings of this study provide an important basis for an assessment of the energy transition in terms of economic policy.

The project is completed. The following individual reports investigate various aspects. A project summary provides an overview of the reports.

Overview of the macroeconomic effects and distributive impact

The roll-out of the energy transition results in a number of changes to the distribution of goods and services, and imposes increases and or removes eases burdens on and from the stakeholders involved. The study “Systematisierung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Effekte und Verteilungswirkungen der Energiewende” (Systematisation of the macroeconomic and distributive effects of the energy transition) presents distributive effects and concepts in a systematic manner and provides a comprehensive qualitative overview of the overarching interrelationships.

Economic indicators and overall national accounts for the energy sector

From the point of view of the energy sector, the structural development of key economic indicators – such as investment, gross output, imports, exports and jobs – varies. Also, the demand for investment in the energy sector provides a stimulus for other parts of the economy. The study “Ökonomische Indikatoren des Energiesystems” (Economic indicators of the energy system) looks back at the 2000-2016 period, undertaking a systematic categorisation and compiling the available comprehensive data in a manner that is easy to understand. The follow-up study “Ökonomische Indikatoren der Energiebereitstellung” (Economic indicators of energy supply) also looks into the energy supply side as it was in 2017.

The expansion of renewable energy and the increase in energy efficiency is reducing Germany’s demand for imports of fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal. It is possible to make an empirical estimate of the overall effect of these savings. The study “Zur Berechnung der durch den Ausbau erneuerbarer Energien und Energieeffizienz verminderten Importe fossiler Brenn- und Kraftstoffe (On the calculation of the reduction in imports of fossil fuels due to the expansion of renewable energy and energy efficiency) does this for the 2000 - 2015 period and offers a horizontal and uniform methodology to determine the impact on imports due to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The overall spending on energy consumption can offer an indication of the affordability of energy. However, there is at present no recognised indicator to reliably measure affordability as a target of energy policy. The commission of experts on the monitoring of the energy transition has therefore proposed a national energy accounts concept. The report entitled “Energiewirtschaftliche Gesamtrechnung – Methoden und exemplarische Berechnungen” (National energy accounts – methods and sample calculations) provides more details of the approach taken by the commission of experts.

Macroeconomic effects of the energy transition

An objective assessment of the effects of the energy transition in terms of economic policy necessitates a net analysis of the various effects of the transition. The current development – with the energy transition targets in place – should be compared with a putative development in which there is no energy transition. The comparison can be mapped out using quantitative analyses. Such an analysis is undertaken in the detailed and comprehensive study “Gesamtwirtschaftliche Effekte der Energiewende” (Macroeconomic effects of the energy transition).

A changing macroeconomic environment can become increasingly important for investments in the energy transition. Growth opportunities as well as possible bottlenecks, e.g. in labour and skilled workers or in raw materials, can become relevant for the production of goods for the energy transition. The literature review “Mögliche Engpässe für die Energiewende (PDF, 497KB)” (Possible bottlenecks for the energy system transformation) examines the macroeconomic and socio-economic interrelations that must be taken into account in order to avoid obstacles to the implementation of the energy transition.

Apart from the quantitative growth and employment effects of the net analysis, additional effects may arise which are, however, more difficult to quantify. This is where the study “Vorteile der Energiewende über die gesamtwirtschaftlichen Effekte hinaus” (Advantages of the energy transition beyond macroeconomic effects) comes in. Such advantages are identified when technology costs fall and new business fields are created. In addition, we look at how the energy transition contributes to energy security, air quality and climate protection.

Distributive effects in energy policy

Energy policies and general market developments can contribute to effects on the relevant stakeholders, which can differ according to sector, region, socioeconomic status and time. Selected distributive effects of Germany’s energy supply are investigated in detail.

Private households spend part of their income to purchase energy in the form of electricity, heating and mobility. The study “Verteilungswirkungen der Energiepolitik – Personelle Einkommensverteilung (PDF, 351KB)” (Distributive effects in energy policy - personal income distribution) uses a statistical analysis to find out how these expenditures can differ when households have different levels of income or if households differ in other characteristics.

The positive macroeconomic effects identified at national level are experienced to differing degrees in the various parts of Germany. A role here is played by developments in the power generation mix and the general structure of economic sectors. These interrelationships are examined in greater detail in the study “Gesamtwirtschaftliche Effekte der Energiewende in den Bundesländern” (Macroeconomic effects of the energy transition in the Länder).

The expansion of renewable energy leads to employment, which is distributed differently across the regions due to the varying developments in different energy sources. Against this background, a study entitled “Erneuerbar beschäftigt in den Bundesländern” (Employed in renewables in the Länder) not only determines how many people work in the renewable energy sectors at Länder level, but also breaks the figures down into the number of employees per energy source (such as wind energy, bioenergy, solar energy) and as a percentage of total employment.

Further studies

In addition to this project, macroeconomic effects of the energy transition, and the impact on employment in particular, have already been considered in other, previous, studies, some of them working from different perspectives or taking different approaches. For example, in these projects, the experts investigated how many people are employed in the energy sector, and to what extent the energy transition is creating additional jobs or, on balance, costing jobs. All the studies draw the conclusion that the energy transition is related to positive impacts on employment. In detail, however, the different questions, methods and assumptions used in the investigations mean that the quantitative findings are not mutually comparable.

  • The study entitled “Beschäftigung durch erneuerbare Energien in Deutschland: Ausbau und Betrieb, heute und morgen” (Employment in the renewables sector in Germany: expansion and operation – now and in the future) focuses on an analysis of renewable energy and its impact on gross employment in 2012 and 2013. It takes several upstream stages into consideration, i.e. it includes the employees of direct and indirect suppliers. The study also asks whether the energy transition will result in more net employment, i.e. whether the expansion of renewable energy creates more jobs than are lost, for example, in conventional electricity generation. It makes an assumption that the energy transition begins in 1995 (start of expansion of renewable energy on the basis of government funding).

    The gross employment due to renewable energy in the following years was updated as part of the above-mentioned study “Makroökonomische Wirkungen und Verteilungsfragen der Energiewende” (Macroeconomic effects and distributive aspects of the energy transition). The interim reports for 2014 and 2015 can be found (in German) here. An updated timeline until 2017 can be found in the aforementioned study “Ökonomische Indikatoren der Energiebereitstellung (PDF, 6MB)” (Economic indicators of energy supply).

  • The study entitled “Wertschöpfungs- und Beschäftigungseffekte der Energiewirtschaft” (Output and employment effects of the energy sector) takes a different approach: building on data from official statistics, it tries to determine energy-related gross employment. In addition to gross employment, it also provides employment figures for both renewable and conventional energy. In contrast to the first study, it only looks at the first upstream stage, i.e. it only covers people employed by direct suppliers, meaning that the numbers of employees tend to be lower.