Guest article by Professor Claudia Kemfert
Once again, the corona crisis has made it clear: in times of crisis, we depend very heavily on system relevance and resilience Overseas relocation of value chains has the disadvantage of making the macroeconomy dependent and, as a consequence, vulnerable to possible shocks and interruptions to supply
We need a new focus on the core elements of the macroeconomy. We need to strengthen regional value chains.
The energy transition is the ideal vehicle for this: supplying energy completely from domestic renewable sources is system-relevant and creates enormous macroeconomic resilience. It makes us independent of external negative shocks. What’s more, the regional value chain is strengthened, innovations are promoted, and the competitiveness of the entire macroeconomy is given a boost. Supplying energy completely from renewable sources is technically feasible and economically lucrative.
However, the decentralised energy transition is not about regional autonomy. The aim is rather to achieve a balance between regional energy supply and cost-effective energy supply. The centrepiece of the idea is a robust regional network of decentralised producers and consumers, as public acceptance and support are necessary preconditions for expanding renewable energy facilities and building new ones. We can only succeed in generating sufficient energy from wind, sun and biomass on school roofs and farms or in private houses and production halls in partnership with the public. Such means may also make it possible to reduce municipal, corporate and household budgets in a targeted fashion. It is also easier to implement the necessary sector coupling in (micro) smart grids in a regional context. Local heating supply systems and dispersed vehicle fleets – ranging from company car pools and hire car fleets to bus stations – guarantee coupling with the electricity grid. They can be more efficiently managed on a decentralised basis than a centralised one.
Municipal councils are the key players in the implementation of the energy transition. Energy savings in public buildings are just as much a part of this as promoting local public transport or CO2-free town centres using electromobility. The economic opportunities for councils are vast: in addition to direct value creation and creating new jobs, indirect value creation effects can also be generated.
For the future, it is fundamental that the essential production processes for energy supply completely from renewable sources are in place in Germany and Europe – such as the production of batteries for electromobility and solar panels or green hydrogen for industry.
From now on, energy supply completely sourced from renewables must be promoted and its expansion must proceed at a faster rate; barriers must be abolished and acceptance increased. All of this can be achieved with a decentralised energy transition.