Hamburg is an Industrial City Reborn with a Renewable Energy Economy

by Liza Farr

Increasing regulation of fossil fuels and pollution, and the shift of jobs from industrial to tech has left many industrial cities with struggling economies. In Germany, the industrial city of Hamburg has fought this trend and is now known as the center of renewable energy for the nation. This past October, HusumWind, one of the world’s largest wind power conferences, was held in Hamburg (Hales, Oct 9 2014). There are already 5,000 wind industry employers in the city, and that number is expected to double with the expansion of offshore wind facilities (Hales, Oct 9 2014). Nearly all the leading international wind companies have offices in the region (Hales, Oct 9, 2014). Twenty five thousand people are already working in renewable energy in Hamburg, and experts predict this number will grow by 40% by 2015 (Renewable Energy Hamburg, October 2012). Nineteen hundred and eighty green tech companies with 33,400 employees are based in the city (Hales Oct 9, 2012). The city is the central planning location for solar farms in Germany and across the world, and the most important development and management location for wind power in Germany (Renewable Energy Hamburg, October 2012).

Hamburg’s success in transforming itself from an industrial port city to a hub for renewable energy is due to a number of concerted efforts by key players. The government has made the climate welcoming for these companies and put money into financing the projects. The mayor identified the renewable energy sector as one of the key areas for the city’s prosperity, showing that the city government has incorporated the renewable energy sector as central to their economic planning (Hales, Oct 9 2014). The government also plans to make all their public transit buses zero emission vehicles within 20 years, further revealing the government’s focus on renewable energy across departments (Montgomery, June 2 2014). The universities have also integrated renewable energy science and technology into their curriculum and research (Hales, Oct 9 2014). The Hamburg Metropolitan Region government is focused on developing the renewable energy sector, and they are supported by the Renewable Energies Cluster, a network of 185 member companies that jointly employ 25,000 staff (Maunder, March 24 2014). The cluster is meant to strengthen cooperation among companies, as well as providing an arena to pool research, skills, facilities, and institutions (Renewable Energy Hamburg, Oct 2012). Additionally, the region is naturally equipped with features helpful for renewable energies. The traditional crops in the region are excellent inputs for biomass and biogas production (Renewable Energy Hamburg, Oct 2012). The region also offers ideal conditions for wind and solar power (Renewable Energy Hamburg, Oct 2012). These conditions, along with the political support, business network, and reputation as European Green Capital in 2011 have formed Hamburg into a center for renewables in Germany, and even on the international scale. American rust belt cities could learn from Hamburg’s success in transforming its economy using renewable energy. Even without ideal natural conditions, industrial cities can employ political and economic tactics to attract the many flourishing renewable energy companies and form a modern, green economy.


Hales, Roy L. “Hamburg is the gateway for Germany’s Offshore Wind Industry.” Oct 9, 2014. [].


Maunder, Hilke. “10,000 new jobs expected to be created by renewable energies.” March 24, 2014. [].


Montgomery, James. “Germany’s Wind Energy Nexus: A Tour Around Hamburg.” June 2, 2014. [].


Renewable Energy Hamburg. “Renewable Energy Hamburg: A Dedicated Industry Network.” Oct 2012. [RenewableEnergyHamburg].


TAGS: Hamburg, Germany, Wind, Renewable Energy, Local Government, Green Economy

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