The German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, part of the former East Germany, was known as one of the poorest parts of the country. Unemployment in the state peaked at over 20% in 2004 before beginning a sharp decline. As of September 2011, the unemployment rate was 11.1% and still on a downward trend. The renewable energy sector is being credited with the incredible rebound in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s economy.
In May 2011, Germany announced that it was accelerating its renewable energy strategy and would close all nuclear power plants by 2022. Around 17 percent of Germany’s electricity comes from renewable sources, but the country plans to increase that to about 50 percent.
In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the shipyards were the traditional industry. However, the number of jobs in that sector dropped from 32,800 in 1989 to around 3,300 today. Now, major investments are being made in renewable energy. According to the New York Times:
Renewable energies, especially wind energy, are injecting new optimism into Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, reflected in a word that often comes up in conversations with business and political leaders: reindustrialization.
In a state with a seafaring heritage, there are now more jobs in renewable energy than in shipyards: 6,000 jobs at 704 companies, a number expected to reach 22,000 by 2020.
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is posed to be a leader in renewable energy in Germany. The state already gets half of its electricity from renewable sources — five times as much as in 2000. The state’s plans involve first producing enough renewable energy to cover all of its own needs and then becoming an energy exporting state.
Could investments in renewable energy in other countries create similar job booms?