2021 starts with two figures from 2020. Germany managed to achieve its climate protection goal for 2020 of a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gases in the home stretch, and the proportion of renewable energies was exactly 50% in 2020. Both figures were commented on, full of hope that Germany is on the right path in terms of climate protection and energy policy. These are clearly extraordinary effects due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic: if 2020 had been a normal year, both targets would have been missed by a large margin.
When the economic situation returns to normal again, greenhouse gas emissions will also increase again. At the same time, the expansion of renewables is progressing so slowly that the target of 65% of electricity consumption being covered by renewables in 2030 will not be achievable with the best will in the world. The main problems in the 2021 election year are the following: the steeply declining expansion of onshore wind energy needs to be corrected in a joint effort by the federal and state governments. At the same time, regulations need to be developed as quickly as possible so that the use of green electricity is attractive and economical for sector coupling in industry, mobility and heat supply.
An increase in the current 55GW of installed onshore wind capacity to approx. 95GW by 2030 is the unchanging foundation for all climate protection efforts in Germany. The 71GW stated in the Renewable Energy Act 2021 is not sufficient by a long way. Germany needs an extra 3,500 to 4,000 MW of net onshore wind energy per year – in the last two years it was hardly more than 1,000 MW net. All the federal states need to contribute to this target with binding development volumes and allocate areas for it in their regional planning – as Schleswig-Holstein has done, for example. In solar energy too, the planned expansion target of 100GW in 2030 needs to be significantly increased. Fortunately, the expansion of solar power picked up considerably again in 2019 and 2020, in contrast to the expansion of onshore wind power.
At an energy market regulation level, green electricity for all types of net-beneficial sector coupling needs to be consistently exempted from regulated network costs, taxes and levies. Here, the exemption of electrolysers operated by green electricity from the Renewable Energy Act levy is a good – albeit small – first step. Facilitation of solutions for private consumption of wind and solar power should also be much more consistent, to unleash the power of innovation. Many other types of sector coupling and private consumption are just as effective for climate protection as hydrogen production; they are just not as profitable. We need to move away from complex, detailed regulations for individual cases and towards a new overall system. Revenue obtained in 2021 for the first time from carbon pricing should be used for reciprocal financing.
At the Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster Agency, we look forward to contributing to these debates alongside our members in 2021!