Germany is on the brink of an election for the Bundestag. For the energy and climate policy this election will be highly important as the upcoming legislative tenure will be decisive in reaching ambitious climate change targets on the road to 2030 and 2040 – or not reaching them. Thus far, Germany has been very successful in the generation of renewable electricity, reaching a level of almost 50% in the first half of this year. Impressive for a big and densely populated country with more than 80 million inhabitants, a large industrial energy demand and limited hydropower potentials. Wind energy, on- and offshore, as well as solar power have really taken off, and – by the way – Germany has financed a significant part of the renewable energy learning curve for the rest of the world.
The last 25 years have been successful but we have seen a significant slowdown of renewables growth in the last four years. Now, the challenge for any government in the upcoming three years are threefold: increase installations of renewables significantly to levels we have seen before, increase levels of green energy in industry and heating (sector coupling) as well as adapt the CO2 pricing system to more ambitious climate change targets. In the years before 2017 we have seen record wind installations of up to 5GW per year onshore – this is the level we need to reach again. For offshore wind we have seen years with up to 2 GW capacity installed. This year offshore will be zero due to intermittent market design. For solar power we have seen around 8 GW installation per year between 2008 and 2021 – we need to go back to this level. Things that need to be done: provide more space in spatial planning for renewables, less bureaucratic and more harmonized regulation and faster licensing. It is ambitious but we know from the past that it can be done.
Raise the level of carbon free energy supply in heating and industry is all about changing regulating systems. The current system of mixed and separated regulation for the electricity, mobility, heating and industry sector has historically emerged, but needs to be systematically harmonized so that taxes, surcharges and grid costs consistently reflect the carbon load of energy carriers. This will certainly be complicated, but the next legislative tenure of four years should provide the time to come up with a good system – after all this years of thinking and preparation! A consistent carbon pricing of non-ETS-sectors should be part of that.
The members in our Cluster Renewable Energy Hamburg have rightly pointed this out in the market survey that was published a few days ago! There is a lot at stake with the election so we wish all voters may take the time to consider the energy challenges ahead!