Energiewende, German mission for a healthier earth

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In the last few years, environmental damage has become an important issue for the world community. Greenhouse effect, global warming, and climate change are some examples of environmental damage we often hear and experience at the moment. To address this issue, WWF (World Wildlife Fund)—a non-profit international organization that deals with environmental conservation, research, and restoration—encourages us to do three things to reduce the causes of environmental damage. Two of them have something to with the use of alternative renewable energy for our daily needs and efficient use of energy.

In November 2018 last year, Atma Jaya Catholic University had the honor of being chosen as one of the two hosts for German traveling exhibition held by the German Embassy in Indonesia with the theme “Energy Transition in Germany”. The exhibition displayed the history of Energiewende or Energy Transition in Germany and its long-term plan.

The exhibition was only held in two cities in Indonesia, namely Jakarta dan Semarang. As one of the universities with its strategic location and close to the business center, Atma Jaya Catholic University was selected as the first host for this event. To cut the long story short, what is really this ‘Energiewende’? How is this country known for its automobile manufacturing able to reduce the consumption of fossil energy and rely instead on green energy which is climate and environment-friendly? How will the project save the earth and its inhabitants?

What is Energiewende?

During the exhibition, it was explained that the main goal of the Energiewende project is to reach the efficient utilization of energy and to replace the conventional energy with renewed energy. Energiewende itself represents a project of the future which lasts until the year 2050 and is one of the important projects for the German government. Why is the project so important? In addition to being able to solve the problem of global warming, this project will change the fundamental activities of the German nation and the German government, starting from state expenditures on imported oil and natural gas, the enforcement of law on energy savings, up to the campaign for households to install solar panels in their homes.

All of this began when the world oil crisis happened in 1973. This crisis was caused by an embargo by Saudi Arabia, one of the OPEC members. As a result of the embargo, the price of oil per barrel at the time skyrocketed. The crisis made the German government realize how dependent they were on fossil energy sources. To avoid making the situation worse, the German government acted fast by limiting the use of fossil energy resources, for example by issuing a law limiting the car speed on the roads as well as encouraging its citizens to use the fossil energy resources efficiently. Next, the German parliament also approved the “Energieeinsparungsgesetz” (the law of energy savings) and the  “Wärmeschutzverordnung” (regulation on building isolation for saving energy). All these policies had brought positive impacts, especially to the German economy at that time. Because of the positive changes, the German government decided to utilize renewable energy. It has also been committed to always using energy as efficiently as possible.

According to the German government, renewable energy in the Energiewende project includes wind energy, solar energy (photovoltaic conversion and solar thermal), geothermal biomass, water energy, and energy from the ocean. All these types of renewable energy are able to generate electricity from infinite resources. For the German government, the Energiewende project provides great opportunities for Germany to open up new business sectors, to initiate innovation, to create new types of employment, to create economic growth, and to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuel and natural gas.

The Needs for Community Support

The success of a program would not materialize without community support, that is, the program needs solid cooperation and support from the community. Similar to what happens to any new change, it will generate support as well as opposition. For some people, open-mindedness is necessary to make a change accepted by all community groups and society in general.

The Energiewende project has demonstrated that the use of renewable energy and the efficient use of energy do not only benefit the German government, but also benefit the citizens of Germany in terms of finance, politics, and environmental health. It should be noted, however, that without the support given by the German people, the German government would have faced many difficulties in its efforts to reduce the use of fossil energy resources and other conventional energy resources.

Now, it should be kept in mind that if the efforts of preventing environmental damage were only left to the German government, the results would not be maximal and fast. Therefore, the easiest step to support the efforts of preventing environmental damage is for us to reduce the use of non-biodegradable plastics in our daily lives. In addition, we should start taking public transportation instead of using a private vehicle or turn off the lamps during daylight hours. Come on. Let’s begin to use energy resources as efficiently as possible for the sake of saving our environment and of sustaining the lives of future generations.

One of the most interesting things displayed during the exhibition of the Energiewende project at the Karol Wojtyla hall of the Semanggi campus of Atma Jaya Catholic University was the area equipped with a motion sensor. If you stand in this area, you will experience the sensation of the wind turbine and hear birds singing. In other words, the area gives us the impression of experiencing the beauties of real nature.