Wind, solar, geothermal energy and bioenergy – Where will the journey take us? Initial findings for the new Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster Agency strategy 2021-2025
The Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster Agency wants to start 2022 with a new strategy and thus align its future cluster work more closely with current developments in the energy system. To develop the new cluster strategy, the Cluster Agency, with support from the advisory agency Umlaut Energy, organised a total of twelve strategy workshops from August to October with different thematic focuses, to each of which a small, select group of members were invited to. Based on identified challenges, they formulated concrete action goals and measures.
A basic prerequisite for the decarbonisation of energy systems is and remains the further and rapid expansion of renewable energies. That is why wind, solar, geothermal energy and bioenergy play a major role in the workshops.
The applications in the PV sector are diverse and range from small systems for private house builders to systems on commercial enterprises, public properties, properties in the housing industry and large systems for industrial companies or open space systems in rural areas.
For the successful implementation of the solar requirement in Hamburg, for example, it is essential to promote social acceptance. The Cluster Agency could act as a multiplier and knowledge broker here. In the medium term, the main issue is to extend the solar roof requirement to existing buildings, which has so far been met with great resistance. In order to overcome conflicts, exchange and cooperation between the energy and housing industries must be intensified.
In addition, the lack of skilled workers must be addressed with a training and qualification initiative. One of the tasks of the Cluster Agency could be to support the formation of a “round table” – composed of representatives of the different educational institutes, the Chamber of Crafts, the employment agency and member companies, which develops solutions based on the “Education for Sustainable Development” master plan.
New tenant electricity models and neighbourhood concepts also represent an important adjustment screw for the expansion of solar energy. It makes sense to have communication platforms with the Hamburg housing industry and to promote successful lighthouse projects at information events.
The wind industry is divided into onshore and offshore. The onshore wind market in Germany is steadily shrinking. The reason for this is decreasing installation numbers, approval volumes and new land designations, increasing approval costs and risks, and complex tendering procedures. The German offshore industry is more optimistic for the future. Finally, the new maritime spatial plan was recently approved with an expansion target of 40 GW. However, it is under great competitive pressure on the international market. The first insolvencies have already become public. In addition, the companies expect a further reduction of jobs by 20 per cent.
In view of this difficult situation, the contribution that the Cluster Agency can make was discussed. The initial focus should be on increasing international activities and relationships. This was also accompanied by a desire to create strategic partnerships with foreign wind industry networks, especially with regard to the future trade of green offshore hydrogen. An analysis of the cluster landscape in neighbouring countries could serve as preparation. This is linked to the idea of developing a working group on the internationalisation of EEHH Cluster Agency work.
With regard to the onshore industry, the Cluster Agency should contribute to shortening and simplifying approval processes. The compatibility of wind energy and nature conservation plays a major role here. In addition, research projects could be supported and their findings distributed more widely. Hamburg should position itself as an “industrial” anchor for wind energy in North Germany. Measures to promote the objectives include identifying and presenting the competencies of wind companies based in Hamburg and strengthening their external image in cooperation with the regional press and other multipliers.
Bioenergy & geothermal energy workshop
The workshop clearly brought to light how central bioenergy and geothermal projects are for the renewable energy supply of a city like Hamburg, which has a limited number of wind and solar farms due to a lack of space. In addition, their role will become even more important in the future due to the increasing demand for balancing energy and the stricter mitigation targets in Hamburg. The participants therefore advocated for these two climate-friendly alternatives to be understood as an integral part of the energy and heat supply of the city of Hamburg and as such to be brought more to the forefront of the Cluster Agency’s work.
In the field of bioenergy, the Cluster Agency’s first step was to support the city of Hamburg in identifying the availability, feasibility and implementation of bioenergy. In concrete terms, this could mean developing criteria for sustainable biomass energy in cooperation with relevant Cluster Agency members and BUKEA, as well as bringing bioenergy stakeholders closer together with urban and neighbourhood developers, authorities and planners.
A similar goal was also formulated with regard to the promotion of geothermal energy. In order to minimise the risk for “no prospect” of drill holes for companies, the Cluster Agency should lobby the city of Hamburg for the creation of a geothermal atlas. This would be accompanied by the detailing of potentials, especially in relation to deep geothermal energy, and the development of a guideline for project implementation.
Next steps towards the final strategy
The workshop results outlined here will be compiled at the end of the entire workshop series by Umlaut Energy and transformed into a coherent cluster strategy in close exchange with the Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster Agency, which defines central fields of action for the next four years and puts together operational packages of measures for each of them.