In the last tender for onshore wind farms, bidder participation once again fell far below the tendered wind farm volume. From 2020 onward, a considerable portion of wind farm capacity generated by turbines built up to the year 2000 will no longer be eligible for subsidies and will probably be partially shut down. As regards offshore wind energy, hardly any new projects will be built in 2019, 2020 and 2021— some are still being completed. For solar energy, expansion has been below the actual expansion target for several years now. A stagnation in bioenergy has been apparent since 2010: significant capacities will be lost in the coming years.
This overall picture should be reason for great concern in Berlin, but it is not. The expansion path for renewables as was defined by the previous federal government will therefore not be anywhere near achievable. Not to mention the more ambitious expansion target of 65% in 2030, which the incumbent federal government had boastfully announced but has not yet provided with an expansion path. And it is this 65% that is to allow for sector coupling for future electric vehicles and heat pumps.
It is high time for all alarm bells to start ringing at the political level: if nothing changes, the energy transition in Germany will be in a state of catatonic shock for the next three to five years, and even sector coupling will remain a pipe dream. The path towards an expansion of renewables will have to be multi-layered: Approval procedures in the federal states should be accelerated, expansion restrictions caused by distance regulations (“10H”) should be abolished, and grid expansion must be driven forward as a top priority matter. Above all, however, the Federal Government must pursue this issue with a greater measure of urgency and ambition. Maybe the reason so many German students are currently following the example of the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg in the “Fridays for Future” demonstrations is because they realise that something has to change and that devil-may-care is no longer a wise motto to live by?