While in the electricity sector, the share of renewable energies has risen sharply in recent years to 33%, the share of the supply of renewable heat has increased slowly, and is even declining in the mobility area. Here, it is clear that the share of renewable energies in the mobility and heat sector will only increase significantly if it becomes possible to “steer” larger shares of electricity in this direction. Only then can a successful overall energy transition emerge from the electricity transition that has been made to date.
Here, it is not surprising that the sector coupling, the combination of the electricity, heat and mobility sector, is attracting a great deal of attention in both the specialist media and in the daily and weekly print media. Everyone is now talking about sector coupling. This is surprising, since currently, it is not possible in a large majority of cases to implement sector coupling in an efficient way. For many of the potential applications, the electricity is too heavily weighted with various added costs (CHP, EEG), grid charges and taxes.
It is hardly likely that one kilowatt hour of electricity, which with the full EEG charge carries an additional cost of over 6 cents, will be used for heat supply, while at the same time, one kilowatt hour of heat from natural gas costs considerably less than 5 cents. The current energy legislation is based on a core structure of large power stations and even after all the changes to the energy laws in 2016 does not permit beneficial sector coupling. This was the frustrating conclusion of a Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster workshop in Hamburg on 2 March.
In order to enable initial experience to be obtained with sector coupling, despite this situation, an experimental clause is due to come into force at the end of March 2017 for the five smart energy pilot regions. This clause is intended to reduce or dissolve many of the additional costs for these pioneering pilot consortia. However, the draft of this clause is also insufficient: the added cost of electricity with the Renewable Energy Sources Act charge might be reduced, but it is not enough to use the electricity efficiently for heat generation. The added costs to the participating industrial companies which result from the changed usage of the electricity grid are only reimbursed after a long time delay. As a result, the enthusiasm for the energy transition and sector coupling soon turns sour. There are still a number of days to do until the end of the month. Perhaps it will still be possible to improve the experimental clause for a broad test of sector coupling!