Germany has passed new laws to kick start its low-carbon energy transition, which has stalled because of an inability to integrate large amounts of renewables into the grid. But will it work?

Now that wind turbines and solar panels account for a third of Germany’s electricity, how will the world’s renewable energy pioneer go even further and integrate renewables throughout its economy?

Andreas Kuhlmann, the managing director of the quasi-governmental German Energy Agency, was asking the question of some of Berlin's brightest digital tech stars while standing at the head of a long room on a hot summer day in June.

Andreas Kuhlmann, managing director of the German Energy Agency

The German government had just passed three new laws designed to unblock some of the barriers to its renewable energy transition, known as the Energiewende: amending its feed-in tariffs, putting coal-fired power plants on standby reserve, and a digitisation law to pave the way for a nationwide roll-out of smart meters – something the Federal Bundestag has been debating since 2007. 

“Finally, we have a digitisation act,” Kuhlmann says, bubbling with enthusiasm. “We have some rules and business now can really start.”

Germany has been working on its renewables revolution for more than 20 years, and its lessons have been keenly sought by countries around the world as they belatedly try to shift to a more...

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