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The German energy transition in the British, Finnish and Hungarian news media

Nature Energyvolume 3pages9941001 (2018) | Download Citation


Germany was the first major country to commit itself to an electricity system transition based on decentralized renewable sources and energy efficiency. This experiment has attracted interest worldwide, but its influence on national energy debates is largely unknown. We study how the German transition appeared in the news media of three countries following alternative nuclear pathways—the United Kingdom, Finland and Hungary—between 2011 and 2015. We show that most discussions are techno-economic, supply-oriented and focused on nuclear, wind and solar energy. Key issues such as energy democracy, regional development, participation, demand-side measures, and bioenergy are neglected. We find that topics are detached from their original contexts and selectively contextualized elsewhere, resulting in very different pictures of the same transition in specific countries and news sources. The ‘Energiewende’ has become part of the international energy policy landscape, but its representation depends on local visions of a good society.

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All articles analysed in this study are available through the news provider databases. Access to the databases of The Guardian, The Times and Helsingin Sanomat is subject to subscription. Data are available from the authors upon reasonable request.

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The work of M.A. was supported by the National Research, Development and Innovation Office of Hungary (grant no. OTKA-PD 116638). K.K. acknowledges funding support from the Academy of Finland (grant no. 284972) and Fulbright Finland. We thank S. Drews, K. Isoaho, E. Heiskanen, N. Honkela, J. Hukkinen, J. Marquardt and the Harvard Science, Technology and Society Program for comments on the manuscript.

Author information


  1. Department of Social Research Methodology, Loránd Eötvös University, Budapest, Hungary

    • Miklós Antal
  2. Environmental Policy Research Group, Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

    • Kamilla Karhunmaa


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M.A. and K.K. designed and conducted the study together. M.A. analysed the material for the United Kingdom and Hungary. K.K. analysed the material for Finland. M.A. and K.K. wrote the paper together.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Miklós Antal.

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    Supplementary Notes 1–2, Supplementary Figure 1, Supplementary Tables 1–3

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