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Expanding renewable energies and sector coupling by means of domestic value creation Renewable Energy HH Cluster Agency priorities for 2023/24

Expanding renewable energies and sector coupling by means of domestic value creation
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Promoting domestic renewable energy production capacities along the entire value chain

Europe is increasingly competing with non-European countries for the relocation and/or retention of industrial companies and production sites. This is also affecting the renewable energy sector and means that dependencies on overseas markets continue to exist and/or could increase in future, and that the currently functioning German wind industry, like the solar industry, runs the risk of being increasingly left behind by international competition. At the same time, onshore wind tenders in Germany (and worldwide) are hardly designed to encourage competition, but are themselves an obstacle, especially with regard to their maximum permitted value structure. The resulting (fortunately) low energy production costs on the one hand, have on the other hand been leading to falling margins in the wind industry for years. The political framework of the EU and the German government should be focussed on consistently improving the resilience of the domestic renewable energy sector, from the production of system components, through projects (energy infrastructure), to operation.

  • EEHH welcomes the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action’s recent announcement regarding industry funding for PV module production in Germany in order to revive domestic production and reduce dependence on overseas markets.
  • Similar funding is also required for the German wind industry to ensure that it doesn’t lose its connection to the heavily subsidised Chinese wind industry, especially when it comes to R&D. We are also in favour of the regulations on the maximum permitted value in tenders agreed with the expansion targets for onshore wind energy being automatically adjusted if costs change. The maximum price should therefore be linked to an industry price index in order to take account of real economic circumstances.
  • As no significant competition for onshore wind farms is expected with a tender volume of 6 GW in 2023 and 10 GW from 2024, the conditions for participating in the tender process should be much simpler. Penalties for commissioning delays as a result of complaints regarding approvals, for example, are a hindrance and should be abolished.
  • In the case of offshore wind energy, funding for port, production and supply infrastructure must ensure that a significant percentage (e.g. > 40%) of the offshore expansion in Germany by 2030 can be achieved by the domestic industry.

Speeding up approvals

The success of a sustainable mobility and heating transition, the ramp-up of the hydrogen economy and associated safeguarding of Hamburg as a strong economic location largely depend on the rapid and significant expansion of renewable energies, as well as the conversion and modernisation of energy production, distribution and storage. Even with Hamburg’s good overall conditions and processes, planning, approval and implementation often take several years. We are pleased to note that the improvements made at an EU and German level, such as the Emergency Plan, the Renewable Energy Act, Onshore Wind Energy Act and Solar Package I, for example, are beginning to have positive effects.

In Hamburg too, the approving ministries, districts and public authorities must be in a position to handle the expected significant increase in approval requests efficiently in the long term and with a great deal of (personnel) continuity, while addressing strategically important issues such as municipal heating planning, for example. Approvals for new processes and systems, e.g. for the hydrogen economy, must also be processed quickly and purposefully, in order to accelerate the energy transition in Hamburg. EEHH supports the following proposals made by the Hamburg Energiewendebeirat to the Hamburg Senate, which are intended to facilitate rapid approval processes:

  • Legal ‘priority’ for renewable energies, distribution network expansion and charging infrastructure
  • Prioritisation of major energy transition projects and stakeholder involvement prior to the approval process
  • Appointment of a planning coordinator to standardise approval processes
  • The Senate should recruit a lot more permanent staff and continue to develop an enabling culture within its ministries for future new projects.
  • Extended powers for approval ministries when issuing expert reports
  • One-stop shop as a point of contact for project sponsors and preliminary approval
  • Standardised approval processes and extensive digitalisation

The Hamburg Senate should also create the basis for the accelerated expansion of heating networks (as well as other energy infrastructure) and an improved connection density. This must happen at the same time or even before the conversion of production facilities and the development of waste heat sources.

Sector coupling regulations

During a transformation such as the energy transition, new obstacles will always arise, because regulations, processes and procedures must be continually adapted to the new circumstances. Sector coupling is crucial for the integration of fluctuating renewable energies and therefore a prerequisite for a successful energy transition. Between 2016 and 2020, the joint NEW 4.0 project demonstrated that important concepts such as battery storage, power-to-heat or load management, for example, are technically possible, can be effectively managed digitally and can make a significant contribution to system stability and resilience. However, many of the sub-projects were confronted with the issue that a lack of or inappropriate regulation failed to facilitate economic operation. The further development of sector coupling regulations is overdue and must be addressed by the German government as an urgent priority.

  • The Climate-Neutral Electricity System Platform is currently developing proposals for the future electricity market design, in which producers and storage companies can refinance themselves on the market. These proposals must be implemented promptly, because the lack of storage and (load) flexibility is already evident on the German electricity market.
  • Meaningful regulations also include time-variable network charges and (regional) payment components that incentivise practices that benefit the system.

Skilled workers as a prerequisite for the energy transition

Hamburg is already the wind power capital of Europe with numerous active stakeholders in the on and offshore segments. The solar potential study published by EEHH has revealed that Hamburg can also become a solar city if the potential is strategically developed and new solar stakeholders are attracted to Hamburg. Making Hamburg a hotspot for the hydrogen economy and a hub for hydrogen imports is another strategic objective that should secure the future of the industrial location. In order to achieve these objectives, skilled workers are required at all levels and in every sector. The lack of skilled workers is currently a hotly debated issue that Hamburg must address, otherwise the transformation of energy systems could be significantly delayed. While our companies must adopt new approaches to be regarded as attractive employers, politicians need to address important aspects of the skilled worker shortage at a national level.

  • Strategies for training and recruiting skilled workers, at home and abroad, must become an essential part of Hamburg’s economic and climate policy and are vital for achieving climate targets.
  • As a Cluster Agency, it is our job to bring together the various stakeholders and initiatives, to record and communicate requirements and to support our member companies – especially SMEs – with the change in the employment market.
  • We will therefore attend job fairs, for example, reach out to university graduates nationwide and help to develop new training programmes and courses.

Position paper author:

Förderverein des Clusters Erneuerbare Energien Hamburg e.V. (Development Association of the Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster Agency)
Legally responsible for content: Sebastian Averdung, Chairman
Wexstrasse 7; 20355 Hamburg

About Astrid Dose

Profilbild zu: Astrid Dose

Talking, writing, organising – and having lots of fun! This is what my days at the EEHH Cluster look like. I’ve been responsible for public relations and marketing for the Hamburg industry network since 2011. I studied History and English and have a soft spot for technical issues.