Germany’s economy has recovered from the economic recession of the past few years much faster than any of its peers in Europe — unemployment rates for both old and young workers are now lower than they were when the US went into recession in 2007, now resting at less than 8%. To a notable degree, this economic recovery is at least partially the result of the German “Energiewende” — the renewable energy revolution.

As a result of the Energiwende, Germany now receives over 25% of its electricity from renewable energy sources, and it’s currently on track to meet its goal of receiving 35% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. Extensive investment into research and development has resulted in German renewable companies being some of the most successful in the world. “Every third solar panel and every second wind rotor is made in Germany, and German turbines and generators used in hydro energy generation are among the most popular worldwide.” And the number of people employed by the renewable energy industry in the country (as of 2011) tops 382,000. All impressive signs of growth.

While there are no doubt other factors that have contributed, such as the German education and employment systems, it would be difficult to deny the impact that the Energiwende has had on the German economy. And in stark contrast to many of the still recovering (or not…) economies throughout Europe and the rest of the world, Germany has laid out, and is pursuing, an ambitious plan to place itself at the forefront of the emerging renewable energy market. A willingness to aggressively prepare for what the markets of the future and near-future will value has often been the mark of the most successful economies throughout history.

And the future (with regards to renewable energy) is nearly here. Hopefully the US will get off its ass soon…