North German energy experts critical of energy policy
- Members of the Renewable Energy Cluster in the Hamburg metropolitan region are calling for greater resolve in pushing through energy transition according to an opinion poll conducted by the Federal Government
- Discussion centres around the pricing of carbon dioxide emissions, grid expansion and the issue of whether special tender invitations in the wind energy sector have any positive effect
100 days in and the grand coalition of the new German Federal Government in Berlin is facing criticism from energy corporations in the Hamburg metropolitan region over its energy and climate policy. The general sentiment of the 190 member companies of the Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster would indicate grave doubt over the achievement of targets stipulated in the coalition agreement for the success of the energy transition. Members are calling for a range of measures to be taken, which they feel are failing to attract sufficient attention from the Federal Government. The expansion of sector coupling in particular, experts feel, should be focussed on much more closely.
Doubts concerning the expansion target planned by the government of 65 percent renewable energies in the power sector by 2030 are particularly felt amongst energy companies. More than two thirds of companies (69 percent) are sceptical of achieving this target and consider successful transition an unlikely or even extremely unlikely outcome. Barely a tenth (9 percent) consider achieving this target likely or highly likely.
Pricing of carbon dioxide emissions must be on the table
As to what should be done to implement the expansion of renewable energies within the predetermined framework, members of the Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster are clear on their expectations of the Federal Government: 84 percent of respondents consider the pricing of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) the appropriate course. Members are calling for a minimum price for CO2 to be defined in European emissions trading or the introduction of a CO2 tax. Two thirds (67 percent) consider accelerated expansion of the transmission grid from north to south essential to facilitate the supply of green energy at full-scale.
Moreover, six out of ten respondents are entirely unconvinced of the likelihood of stabilising the industry through special tender invitations announced for wind energy. Just over half of participants proposed market development programs in order to advance sector coupling. Other issues mentioned include the expansion of photovoltaics and reforming existing levy formalities for electricity. Numerous participants perceived as lacking generally any clear political will to move forward with the energy transition.
Energy industrialists failing to see concept at work
Uncertainty remains concerning the future course of the Federal Government in the field of conventional, fossil fuels, which will remain central to supply security. Some companies in the current climate are even convinced the Federal Government has no clear concept at all on the issue.
Respondents rated as negative measures taken by government partners in the coalition agreement not avoiding capacity bottlenecks in the transition grid in the years 2020 to 2030. 42 percent of survey respondents argue the measures to be inadequate; 20 percent giving the very lowest rating. Just one sixth (14 percent) give a rating of “good” or “very good”.
Private consumption solutions demanded
72 percent of Renewable Energy Hamburg survey respondents in the opinion poll demand the Federal Government introduce private consumption solutions in residential and associated industrial zones in order to promote the on-site consumption of decentrally generated power. Sector coupling too, involving the use of electricity for mobility and heat supply, offers the potential to store and consume green energy without having to transport it over large distances.
Member companies of the Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster, which is already a pioneer in the area of sector coupling, furthermore consider necessary the amendment or rewriting of laws to date shown to hamper the expansion of sector coupling. Half of experts suggest for instance scrapping the EEC levy in the electricity sector in the case of grid bottleneck situations in order to increase the appeal of (regional) electricity utilisation. 21 percent, however, perceive there to be an incentive for energy transition in reducing the EEC tariff too where wind or solar farms are unable to supply energy.
Acceptance for grid expansion needs bolstering
“Testimony by member companies of the Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster to the Federal Government has not been positive on the issue of energy policy after the first 100 days in office. Expansion of transmission grids is progressing much more slowly than planned. One of the many reasons is the lack of acceptance amongst the general public. The survey shows that a lot more needs to be done, as cluster members see it, to win the public round to this major project and to tackle expansion with much greater vigour,” states managing director Jan Rispens. “Public relations activities consequently are a very important part of our work in the cluster.”
Several members consistently propose an information campaign focused on requirements around increased flexibility in the system and of grid optimisation and grid expansion. Companies also suggest giving the general public the chance to have an (indirect) financial stake in the expansion of grids: Compensation, e.g. in the form of the partial refunding of grid charges for communities locally affected by grid expansion, may increase acceptance for expansion. Increased use of underground cabling and reduced electricity taxation are likewise seen as worthwhile.