Later that afternoon I took a ferry back upstream and watched the sinking sun glint off the windows of the buildings lining the river. When reporting on energy, it's easy to focus on the brightest and shiniest subjects, especially the newest game-changing technologies. But two less glamorous workhorses—efficiency and energy conservation—are pillars of the Energiewende.
Joachim Pfeiffer, economic policy spokesman for Germany's governing coalition, told me that he considers efficiency the key to a renewable energy future. In general, buildings account for about 70% of all electrical use. A quarter of all primary energy is used in transportation.
"Energy we don't consume is energy we do not have to produce," Pfeiffer said. "And this is the best energy of all."
Funding for Clean Break was provided by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, through a Climate Media Fellowship, and by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.