Innovation Alliance for the North

Innovation Alliance for the North

NEW 4.0 – Northern German Energy Transition 4.0

Programme: SINTEG

Project Period: 2016 - 2020

Budget: 45 Million Euros (German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy)


NEW 4.0 comprises the harbour city-state of Hamburg and the coastal state of Schleswig-Holstein. Hamburg is a densely populated metropolitan region characterised by heavy industry. The city’s electricity consumption is correspondingly high. In contrast, Schleswig-Holstein is an important wind power hub, producing and even exporting greater volumes of green electricity.

To compensate the imbalance between surplus renewable energy production in the rural north and high carbon intensive energy consumption in the metropolitan area, the NEW 4.0 project aimed to connect the model region’s producers and consumers in a flexible manner using smart energy technologies.



NEW 4.0’s main objective was to develop innovative solutions for a digitalised and low-carbon energy system in northern Germany. Based on the premise that Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein will be supplied to 100 per cent with renewable power by 2035, the project NEW 4.0 focused on building up a smart energy network between both German states. By matching synergies in clean energy innovations throughout the model region, NEW 4.0 is ideal to be blue-printed by others.

The need for further wind and solar energy deployment calls for more flexibility within the electricity sector. Hence, NEW 4.0 tested new dynamic approaches to better adapt electricity consumption to increasing fluctuations in energy production. By that, NEW 4.0 pursued to

  • improve the electricity export rate to other regions, for example to Hamburg, Lower Saxony or southern Germany
  • increase local use of renewables-based electricity by enabling new storage and energy con-version technologies as well as intelligent demand-side-management alternatives.

In addition, NEW 4.0 tested new market designs and business models. In order to monetize the flexibility created and incentivize investments, new regulations are needed, too. Consequently, NEW 4.0 also analysed the political and legal energy framework to recommend more suitable frameworks. The overall aim was to create new market opportunities for companies and to secure their long-term competitiveness. Strengthening the regional economy coupled with the emergence of new industrial value chains also secures and creates jobs in the model region.

As already mentioned, the two neighbouring states included in the NEW 4.0 project complement each other well:

  • Hamburg is a densely populated metropolitan region with strong representation of energy-intensive industries. Hence, its energy demand is remarkably high and still largely carbon-based. In 2017, 17 TWh of electricity were consumed, only 4 percent came from renewable energy sources. A quarter of this amount is employed by the metalworking industry.
  • The coastal state of Schleswig-Holstein, on the other hand, with its many offshore and on-shore wind farms is a major electricity producer. Schleswig-Holstein could already cover 160 percent of its annual electricity demand from renewable energies.

Together, the two German states can demonstrate what a climate-friendly energy system could look like in the future. Thanks to the model region’s inherent imbalances between production and consumption, NEW 4.0 is considered a prototype for the core challenges of a sustainable energy system trans-formation.

Due to NEW 4.0 the northern German states are further expanding their role as a leading innovation hub. Investments in a growing renewable energy market will strengthen the local economy and create new jobs. Last but not least, the model region can become a model for climate protection in other regions of Germany and Europe.

Contact: Renewable Energy Hamburg
Janina Grimm, Project Lead Sector Coupling
+49 (0) 40 694 573-16

Download: English Brochure