Energy Watch Group

Energy Watch Group
Abbreviation EWG
Motto Energy policy needs objective information!
Formation 2006 (2006)
Type Independent think tank comprising network of scientists and parliamentarians
Hans-Josef Fell
Key people
  • Werner Zittel
  • Christian Breyer

The Energy Watch Group (EWG) is an international network of scientists and parliamentarians. The EWG conducts research and publishes studies on global energy developments concerning both fossil fuels and renewables. The organization states that it seeks to provide energy policy with objective information.[1]

The EWG was founded in 2006 by the former German parliamentarian Hans-Josef Fell and further parliamentarians from other countries to provide both experts and political decision makers as well as the public with information on energy issues.

Research areas

The EWG conducts research on all kind of energy issues including natural gas, crude oil, coal, renewables and uranium. In particular, they focus on three interrelated topics:

The EWG studies are analyzing ecological, technological and economic connections in the energy sector to estimate developments in the availability and supply of different energy sources and production techniques.

The scientists are therefore collecting and analysing not only ecological but above all economical and technological connections. The results of these studies are to be presented not only to experts but also to the politically interested public.

Research and statements

Studies of the EWG by and large come to the conclusion that the planet will run out of fossil fuels early than previously thought. The global supply of fossil fuels is therefore extremely strained. An early study of the EWG estimates that there is far less coal available that what is commonly expected. Moreover, coal is distributed very unevenly across countries. 85% of global coal reserves are situated in six countries: USA, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The report suggests that a global peak of coal production will occur in 2025 latest.[3] The situation for crude oil is even more critical. Global oil production is said to collapse to 40% in 2030 compared to production in 2012. According to calculations by the EWG, peak-oil has already been reached in 2006 with a global oil production maximum of 81 million barrels per day and is now on a steep decline.[4]

The EWG further maintains that neither new production techniques such as fracking, nor nuclear energy nor a diversification of the fossil fuel portfolio can reverse the trend of a perishing conventional energy system. A recent EWG report warns that fracking not only has catastrophic consequences for the environmental and detrimental health impacts, but is also economically unviable, particularly in Europe. The US is heading straight to a peak in shale gas extraction after which production will plummet within this decade.[5] Another study claims that a diversification of natural gas imports to decrease the EU's dependence on Russia is not an option. Neither Russia nor any other producer of natural gas can be a reliable energy supplier for Europe. While Russian gas supply is declining, there is increasing demand by other countries competing for resources such as China or Japan. Moreover, liquid natural gas (LNG) cannot contribute to security of supply. While the EU has the capacity to import 200 billion m³/year it only imported 45 billion m³/year. According to the EWG, this is a clear indication that the producing countries lack export capacities.[6] To substitute for the declining fossil fuel reserves with nuclear energy is also doomed to fail due to two factors. First, with the proven reserves, the stocks will be exhausted in 30 years if demand would remain constant. Second, while only 3–4 reactors per year are currently completed, the competition of 15-20 would be required to maintain present reactor capacity.[7][8]

Several other studies argue that a global shortage of fossil energy supply can only can be intercepted by a rigorous extension of the renewable energy system. Conversely, the potential for this endeavour is greater than previously thought according to the EWG. An EWG study posits that arguments against wind power such as fluctuations of wind, lack of grid connections and lack of reserve capacities do not hold due to improvements in planning, growing price incentives and technical improvements.[9] In 2008, the EWG estimated that 17–29% of global energy demand can be covered by renewable energy depending on the willingness to invest. The report maintains that political will is the most crucial obstacle to a global energy transition.[10]

Controversy and debates

Several statements made by the EWG are in stark contrast with those of the International Energy Agency (IEA) and other organizations in the field. The EWG even claims that the IEA is institutionally biased towards conventional energy sources and follows a 'hidden agenda' to keep up the believe of an abundant supply of fossil energy sources while downplaying the potential for renewable energy through misleading data.[11]

The attack on the credibility of the IEA has attracted a lot of attention in the international media and increased the popularity of the EWG.[12]

The EWG achieved a partial victory when the IEA confirmed the EWG's warnings of a shrinking global supply of fossil fuels in 2010.[13]

EWG studies









External links


  3. Schindler, J., Zittel, W. (2007) Coal: Resources and Future Production. Energy Watch Group, Berlin
  4. Schindler, J., Zittel, W. (2008) Crude Oil – The Supply Outlook. Energy Watch Group, Berlin
  5. Zittel, W. (2015) Fracking – Eine Zwischenbilanz. Energy Watch Group, Berlin
  6. Zittel, W. (2014) The EU’s dependency on Russia for natural gas can only be reversed with a rapid expansion of renewable energy sources. Energy Watch Group, Berlin
  7. Zittel, W., Schindler, J.(2006) Uranium Resources and Nuclear Energy. Energy Watch Group, Berlin
  8. Zittel, W., Zerhusen, J., Zerta, M. (2013) Fossil and Nuclear Fuels – the Supply Outlook. Energy Watch Group, Berlin
  9. Rechsteiner, R. (2009) Wind Power in Context – A Clean Revolution in the Energy Sector. Energy Watch Group, Berlin
  10. Peter, S., Lehmann, H. (2008) Renewable Energy Outlook 2030: Energy Watch Group Global Renewable Energy Scenarios. Energy Watch Group, Berlin
  11. echsteiner, R. (2009) Wind Power in Context – A Clean Revolution in the Energy Sector. Energy Watch Group, Berlin
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