Benjamin Wehrmann – Informed Comment https://www.juancole.com Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion Sun, 13 Nov 2022 04:22:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.7.8 Geothermal Energy to get Relaunch in Germany as Government seeks new Heating Sources https://www.juancole.com/2022/11/geothermal-relaunch-government.html Sun, 13 Nov 2022 05:08:19 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=208123 By Benjamin Wehrmann | –

( Clean Energy Wire) – The vast potential of geothermal energy generation for heating has so far been under-utilised in Germany, but a new exploration process launched by the economy and climate ministry (BMWK) aims to better exploit the renewable energy source underground. The ministry said it will consult policymakers, industry groups and other stakeholders in potential geothermal energy generation regions to unlock the energy source that can “improve heating supply year-round”.

Economy and climate minister Robert Habeck said the energy source “is reliably available throughout the whole year, does not depend on the weather, is crisis-proof and almost nondepletable.” His ministry therefore had developed a first concept including several concrete measures to improve geothermal heating use, the Green Party minister said. “Using geothermal energy has to be thought of consistently with the expansion and decarbonisation of our heating grids,” Habeck argued, which are supposed to contain 50 percent climate-neutral heating energy by 2030.

At the beginning of his term last year, Habeck already announced that the government aimed to use up to 10 terawatt hours of geothermal energy by the end of the decade, which should be achieved by opening at least 100 new projects in the next years. These should then be connected to the heating grid and supply households and industrial companies in regions where this is feasible, the minister said. Garnering local support for the technology’s buildout and rigorously applying environmental protection principles would be indispensable to ensure that geothermal energy use can be improved in the country, he added.

Deep geothermal energy can make a major contribution to the decarbonisation of Germany’s heating sector, a study published earlier this year found. It could cover more than a quarter of Germany’s annual heat demand (over 300 TWh) and generate additional revenue and jobs. The technology has been used for decades in many European cities, such as Paris and Munich, but has not yet received much attention elsewhere in Germany’s heating sector transition, where oil and gas still dominate and cause high CO2 emissions.

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Via Clean Energy Wire

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Renewable energy Exports key Pillar for Ukraine’s reconstruction – Chancellor Scholz https://www.juancole.com/2022/10/renewable-reconstruction-chancellor.html Sat, 29 Oct 2022 04:58:07 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=207859 By Benjamin Wehrmann | –

( Clean Energy Wire ) – Energy exports to western Europe are one of the pillars a future Ukrainian economy could rest on, Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz and Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said at a conference in Berlin on the war-torn country’s financial assistance needs to rebuild its economy. Renewable energy sources could be used to replace part of Russia’s reduced exports to Europe, but Ukraine will need continued financial aid and international investments to fend off the Russian invasion and lay the groundwork for a modernised post-war industry, Zelenskyy said. Scholz and European Commission leader Ursula von der Leyen both reiterated that they view Ukraine as a future EU member, urging investors to help put the country on a path to full EU accession. At a bilateral German-Ukrainian business conference held on the day before, German companies said they are ready to expand their activities in Ukraine.

Exporting energy generated with renewables will play a major role in reconstruction plans for Ukraine, government leaders have said at a conference on international assistance for the country whose economy has been heavily damaged by its ongoing fight against Russia’s invasion. German chancellor Olaf Scholz and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said exports of gas, hydrogen and renewable energy will form one pillar of the country’s rebuilt economy. However, building a modernised economy as well as sustaining the defence against Russia would heavily depend on investments from western Europe and other allies of Ukraine, they added.

The international conference in Berlin in the framework of Germany’s G7 presidency followed a bilateral German-Ukrainian business forum a day earlier, on 24 October, where chancellor Scholz had promised Germany would support Ukraine “for as long as this is necessary” and representatives of Germany’s industry stated many companies are ready to ramp up investments in the country. The bilateral conference was held for the first time since Russia’s invasion and came after months of criticism of Germany’s close economic ties with and dependence on Russia. The chancellor and business leaders in recent months have repeatedly said that support for Ukraine is firm despite mistakes made in the past and the current challenges for Germany’s economy due to the energy crisis fuelled by the war on Ukraine.

What Ukraine needs now “is nothing less than a new Marshall plan for the 21st century,” chancellor Scholz said, referring to the large reconstruction programme financed by the U.S. to rebuild Europe after the Second World War. But simply repairing damaged infrastructure and industry facilities in the former Soviet republic should not be the aim of international financial assistance efforts. “Let’s not focus on reconstructing of what once was,” Scholz said, arguing that the goal should be to modernise industries and make Ukraine a rewarding target for investments in clean energy and digitalisation. Support for Ukraine must happen in a transparent and coordinated manner to maximise external help, chancellor Scholz said.

Identifying the sectors that are in most urgent need of funding and how long-term investment projects can be implemented would have to be done now to have solutions available in time, he argued. Reconstruction in the energy sector would mean that Ukraine’s energy system “must gradually be re-installed in a climate neutral way,” Scholz said. The country would fulfil all the conditions not only to become a corridor for energy in the future but also to become an exporter of green energy in its own right, a goal for which the first cooperation agreements between German and Ukrainian energy companies had already laid the groundwork. The two countries now have the chance to establish “an economic and transformation partnership that goes deeper and further than everything we’ve done so far.”

“Those who invest in Ukraine invest in a future EU member”

Speaking in a video call from Kyiv, Ukraine’s president Zelenskyy said his country could help Europe replace Russian energy imports that were lost as a consequence of Russia’s attack. “The EU with our help can replace Russian energy,” Zelenskyy said.

Scholz earlier had said that Ukraine’s elevation to EU candidate status had not been a merely symbolic gesture but rather an important signal to investors that there is a long-term commitment by the EU to stabilise its eastern neighbour. “We’re serious about this offer, including all of its consequences: We want Ukraine to be part of the EU,” the German chancellor said. President Zelenskyy said this meant that “those who invest in Ukraine invest in a future EU member,” adding that his country could “start giving back once we’ve defeated Russia” by aligning with the west’s legal and economic standards.

At the conference in Berlin, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, reiterated the bloc’s intention to grant Ukraine the status of full member of the EU, stressing that this will require financial commitments from Europe and beyond. “It’s more than one country can provide alone – we all have to work together,” von der Leyen argued, adding that “investments into Ukraine are investments into democracy.” Together with Scholz, the EU head had announced the idea of a “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine in a guest article for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published on the weekend before. However, von der Leyen and the German chancellor stopped short of making any concrete financial reassurances to the government in Kyiv.

Hans-Ulrich Engel, CFO at chemicals producer BASF and deputy leader of the German Eastern Business Association, said it would be a mistake to wait with making reconstruction decisions until the war ends. “Many of the companies active in the Eastern Business Association are ready to get engaged in Ukraine,” Engel said. He argued that currently the focus should be on ensuring stable electricity, heating and water supply for Ukrainian households during the winter and that companies in Germany should stock up their in-kind transfers to the country to assist in reconstruction efforts. In the longer run, it would be paramount to ensure that Ukraine retains its industry and that companies can continue production there. Laying the groundwork for applying the EU’s legal standards in Ukraine now could greatly accelerate subsequent reconstruction assistance, Engel added.

Ukraine’s prime minister Denys Shmyhal said that while recent World Bank estimates have gauged the country’s funding needs to be in the range of 350 billion U.S. dollars, the Ukrainian government now believes that the required sum is closer to 700 billion dollars. Shmyhal also said that the plan for Ukraine could not be to rebuild everything as it was before the war, but rather to think ahead and identify future opportunities. “There will be incredible opportunities in this process of transformation for European companies in energy, agriculture, defence, IT systems and many other areas.” Even though Russia currently tries to destroy Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, the country could in the medium run become a stable supplier of “clean energy” produced with nuclear power and renewables, Shmyhal said.

Speaking to German media outlet RND ahead of the conference in Berlin, the Ukrainian government’s economic adviser Alexander Rodnyansky had said the country would need financial assistance of four to five billion dollars per month, of which 500 million dollars could come from Germany. “We hope for two billion dollars per month from the EU,” Rodnyansky said.

Via Clean Energy Wire

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Germany to Give Electricity Rebates, financed with Windfall Profit Tax on Energy Corporations https://www.juancole.com/2022/10/electricity-financed-corporations.html Sun, 23 Oct 2022 04:02:10 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=207734 ( Clean Energy Wire ) – The German government plans to introduce a power price brake that will grant electricity consumers a lower price for a fixed share of their estimated use in 2021, a presentation prepared by the chancellery and seen by Clean Energy Wire showed. The measure will be financed with taxes retroactively applied to windfall profits in the energy sector. The exact share of power consumption at reduced rates has not been determined yet, but the government plans to design the power price brake on the blueprint of the existing gas price brake, which caps prices for 80 percent of the previous year’s consumption.

The windfall tax on the massively higher profits made by many energy companies in the past months — a model that is also being pursued by the European Commission — is supposed to fund the brake. According to the chancellery paper, the tax will apply to 90 percent of the so-called “coincidental profits” energy producers have amassed since the beginning of Europe’s energy crisis fuelled by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Taxation rates will be set by the merit order principle, which also sets the price on European power markets, and whereby the most expensive form of energy production used at any given point in time determines the price received by all producers. This means the government will estimate the reference operating cost for different types of power production, from cheap electricity made with wind and solar power installations, to more expensive lignite-fired power plants, add a “safety surcharge” to adjust imprecise estimates, and tax 90 percent of every euro producers earn beyond the reference cost.

Natural gas plants, hard coal plants and biomethane-fired power plants will be exempt from the windfall tax, which the government plans to introduce by 1 December. For gains made on the spot market, the tax is supposed to also apply retroactively from 1 March 2022.

Local utility association VKU said the plans for a power price brake and a windfall tax are “generally comprehensible,” but warned the plans could harm future renewable investments. It warned the government not to go beyond plans tabled by the European Commission, arguing the reference cost model and retroactive application could scoop up more profits from the companies than intended.

“We consider a retroactive application from 1 March 2022 unacceptable,” VKU head Ingbert Liebing said, arguing that such a move could undermine investor trust in Germany’s energy sector. “The trust of market actors in state guarantees and a stable market framework is pivotal to further investments in renewable energy expansion.” Retroactive intervention would clearly violate this trust, Liebing added.

The VKU said the entire approach pursued by the government would be too complex to quickly remedy financial difficulties for customers, proposing instead the introduction of a simpler taxation model to achieve results fast. Renewable power industry lobby group BEE also vehemently rejected the plans, arguing that a retroactive intervention would likely be “unconstitutional” and would “severely” damage investor trust in Germany.

“This massive market intervention comes at a very bad time, when auctions [for renewables] are still undersubscribed after years of putting a brake on expansion,” BEE head Simone Peter said. The renewables industry had just begun to regain its optimism in light of the government’s renewable power expansion plans, she argued, adding the tax would add to problems for investors in renewables, which already include slow licensing procedures, a lack of construction sites and supply chain bottlenecks.

Via “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” .

Via Clean Energy Wire

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Germany’s Economy and Climate Ministry to tender 1.5 Gigs of new Solar, and Unleash Rooftop Solar Potential https://www.juancole.com/2022/09/germanys-ministry-potential.html Sat, 10 Sep 2022 04:02:16 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=206876 By Benjamin Wehrmann | –

Tagesspiegel Background

( Clean Energy Wire) Germany’s government plans to rapidly accelerate the expansion of solar power capacity in the country with several legal changes, energy policy newsletter Tagesspiegel Background reports. A proposal by the economy and climate ministry (BMWK) of Green minister Robert Habeck includes so-called “special crisis tenders” next January for solar power meant to increase renewable power production in response to the European energy crisis. However, the tendered volume of 1,500 megawatts will later be deducted from following auctions.

The finance ministry (BMF) is working on a “bundle” of laws to ease tax regulation for roof-mounted solar power installations. Feed-in remuneration and own consumption would enjoy tax breaks and documenting earnings no longer mandatory for small producers.

The BMWK also wants to reduce the current curtailing of smaller roof-mounted solar PV systems to let them contribute fully to the grid and could also call for ending temporary production stops for wind turbines, especially during the night, when installations are turned off to reduce noise disturbances for nearby residents. A reform of the support rules for bioenergy plants could also be included in the law package.

Auction volumes for solar and wind power installations had been increased in the context of Germany’s renewed push to reach its climate targets and make progress towards 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035, an aim that has only been strengthened by the need for greater energy independence following Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

While wind power auctions have repeatedly been undersubscribed in recent years and only managed to fully auction off planned volumes in the past months, solar power auctions have so far usually been oversubscribed.

Via Clean Energy Wire

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“The Elbe River Gasps for Breath:” Rivers’ ecosystems across Germany threatened by low Water, O2 Levels and high Temperatures https://www.juancole.com/2022/08/ecosystems-threatened-temperatures.html Sun, 21 Aug 2022 04:08:25 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=206488 Citing Hamburger Abendblatt / Süddeutsche Zeitung / Rheinische Post

( Clean Energy Wire ) – German rivers are suffering from extreme heat and drought, ringing the alarm for the stability of their ecosystems all over the country. Like many other parts of Europe, Germany has seen recurring heatwaves since late spring, which coupled with little precipitation throughout winter, spring and summer have led to rising water temperatures and very low water levels.

The combined effects are now starting to take a toll on fluvial ecosystems. “The Elbe river gasps for breath,” the Hamburger Abendblatt reported regarding northern and eastern Germany’s most important stream. Oxygen levels in parts of the Elbe have dropped to well below 4 milligrams per litre, the minimum considered necessary for fish to survive, according to local fishermen association Angleverband Hamburg. “The entire system is massively damaged” and the consequences would likely be felt for years, NGO BUND said. Hamburg’s second river, the Alster, meanwhile, has dried up almost entirely near its source.

Climate change impacts are increasingly felt in Germany and other parts of Europe, with severe droughts, forest fires, storms and floods gaining in frequency and intensity. Adaptation to and mitigation measures for weather extremes caused by rising temperatures are seen as prerequisites for cushioning environmental and economic damages.

Rivers in the southern state of Bavaria are equally grappling with low oxygen levels and a lack of water, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported. “The situation is even worse than during the heatwaves of 2018 and 2019,” the article says, citing Munich’s water authority, which said that groundwater levels in the region have started to drop during the heatwaves. High water temperatures led to the resettling of large fish populations in cooler water bodies, while firefighters in Bavaria dumped cold water into rivers to reduce the temperature.

The Rhine river in western Germany is equally hit by high temperatures and a lack of fresh water. Water levels in Germany’s most important stream partly fell to merely four centimetres (outside the fairway), threatening not only a collapse of commercial shipping on the Rhine but also the river’s ecosystem, newspaper Rheinische Post reported. If high water temperatures persist, fish and other animals in the Rhine could start to encounter serious difficulties to survive in about one week, biologist Jochen Koop from the federal authority for water protection told the newspaper. NGO BUND said minimising other stress factors for the river, such as water extraction for industry or warm water injections from power plants, would be indispensable if temperatures remain high.

In the Oder river on the border with Poland, authorities are still investigating the cause of an environmental disaster that already killed thousands of fish and other animals and triggered a warning to residents to avoid contact with water. While the region has also experienced little rainfall and high temperatures for months, pollution of the major river with toxic substances is suspected to have caused the mass mortality.

Via Clean Energy Wire

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Germany’s renewables output climbs to 49% of power demand in first half of 2022 https://www.juancole.com/2022/07/germanys-renewables-output.html Sat, 09 Jul 2022 04:04:47 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=205680 ( Clean Energy Wire ) – Renewables provided nearly half of Germany’s electricity in the first six months of 2022, according to preliminary data released by energy industry association BDEW and research institute ZSW. Solar panels, wind turbines, biogas plants and other installations covered 49 percent of electricity demand, six percentage points more than during the same period in the year before.

Wind turbines, the most important renewable power source, increased their share from 17 to 21 percent and solar panels from 10 to 12 percent, while power consumption in the country fell slightly by 2 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) to 281 billion kWh. In total, renewables produced 139 billion kWh and 17 billion kWh were exported. “Shrinking gas flows from Russia have put Germany’s energy supply into an exceptional situation. The safest way to prevent such a situation in the future is a quick buildout of renewable energy installations,” BDEW head Kerstin Andreae said, adding that a lack of construction area for wind power would continue to be among the biggest obstacles to renewables expansion in the country.

Frithjof Staiß, head of the ZSW institute, said the expected boom in solar power, gauged at about 150 billion euros in investments by 2030, would likely benefit Chinese producers most. “This dependence on Chinese producers – 96 percent of all wafers on the world market come from China – is a significant risk for the implementation of ambitious expansion targets aimed at climate action and energy security,” Staiß said, calling on the government to advocate making the revamp of the EU’s solar power industry a Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI), similar to existing projects for hydrogen and battery production.

Germany’s government coalition parties, meanwhile, agreed on measures designed to achieve a massive expansion of renewable power installations within the next years, after the parties’ parliamentary factions cleared last hurdles standing in the way of the government’s so-called Easter Package of renewable energy legislation.

Social Democrat (SPD) energy politician Matthias Miersch said the deal struck with the Green Party and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) would mean “renewables get the highest priority” in the German energy system, especially regarding wind power construction space. The biggest reform in over 20 years would lay the groundwork for a climate neutral energy system and greater independence from energy imports.

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Clean Energy Wire

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How Renewable Energy can Enable Germany’s Energy Independence of Russia https://www.juancole.com/2022/04/renewable-germanys-independence.html Sat, 16 Apr 2022 04:04:36 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=204085 ( Clean Energy Wire ) – Russia’s attack on Ukraine has added a new dimension to Germany’s ambitious aims for ramping up the share of renewables in its energy system. Marking a “historic turning point,” the fast elimination of fossil fuel imports for Germany practically overnight shifted from being a moral obligation and long-term environmental protection measure to a question of national security and short-term economic stability. Wind power, solar PV, bioenergy, hydropower and other renewable power sources since have become labelled “freedom energies” that can enable the country to vastly reduce its energy dependence and form the bedrock for decarbonising the economy.

This Q&A looks at plans for the transition to a power system based on 100 percent renewables and what can be done to speed it up.

[UPDATE adds information on “Easter Package” renewable energy law reform].

1. What are the current expansion goals for wind, solar and other renewables?

Already before Russia’s invasion, Germany’s government coalition of the Social Democrats (SPD), the Green Party and the Free Democrats (FDP) had aimed to achieve 80 percent renewables in electricity consumption by 2030. Shortly after the war’s outbreak on 24 February, it raised the ambition to 100 percent by 2035, meaning the expansion rate of renewables will have to multiply. In a policy package in April 2022 presented as the “biggest energy policy reform in decades,” the coalition proposed to lift the rollout of wind and solar power “to a completely new level.” Renewables already provided about 54 percent of electricity consumption in early 2022.

Installed onshore wind capacity should reach 115 gigawatts (GW), meaning annual capacity additions will have to reach 10 GW as of 2025. A total onshore turbine capacity of about 56 GW had been installed in the country by 2021. Solar PV installations will amount to 22 GW per year as of 2026 to achieve a total capacity of 215 GW by 2030, up from about 60 GW in 2021. Offshore wind additions are increased as well to reach a minimum of 30 GW by the end of the decade, 40 GW by 2035, and 70 GW by 2045. As ambitious as this sounds, much higher buildout rates are not without precedent in the country. In 2017, Germany installed 5 GW of wind power and solar capacity expansion peaked at around 8 GW before 2012.

The government said it will introduce a second package of legislative reforms by the summer. These will include draft reforms of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG), the offshore wind law, the energy industry law and legislation to speed up power transmission grid development. It will now be sent to parliament and could be adopted still in the first half of 2022, the economy ministry (BMWK) said.

2. Will the planned renewables expansion allow an end to Russian imports and reach climate targets?

Full independence seems unlikely for Germany even with a fully decarbonised energy system due to continued raw material imports and the sheer power capacity needed to implement decarbonisation measures. However, the energy potential that can be exploited using renewables within the country is still significant. Renewables expansion provides the fundament for almost all energy transition activities Germany has planned to reach its goal of full climate neutrality by 2045. Together with increased efficiency to reduce the overall need for energy, the electrification of mobility, heating and other sectors is a cornerstone for ending the use of fossil fuels like petrol in cars or natural gas in heating systems – and renewables allow doing so without causing new CO2 emissions. However, electricity so far only covers a fraction of Germany’s primary energy consumption, where the share of renewables in 2021 stood at a little over 16 percent.

Yet, renewables also provide the foundation for green hydrogen production, which will enable decarbonisation in sectors and applications where electricity so far offers no viable solutions. But building more renewables takes time and offers no quick way out of the current predicament. In its progress report on energy security from late March 2022, the government said the goal to significantly reduce imports from Russia by mid-2024 to 10 percent of gas use would require further diversification of fossil fuel sources, a more rapid ramp-up of hydrogen and the “massive expansion” of renewables. The Easter Package is aimed at becoming the “greatest accelerator since the year 2000,” when guaranteed remuneration was introduced with resounding success for the buildout of wind and solar power installations. Economy and climate minister Robert Habeck had urged that expansion should happen “at Tesla speed”, referring to the US carmaker’s quick construction of a gigafactory for e-cars near Berlin. However, he warned the country still lacks sufficient wiggle room in energy supply to end dependence on Russia swiftly.

3. Are renewable power companies ready to deliver a fast expansion?

Ramping up the production and installation of wind turbines, solar panels and other renewable power installations was made a priority as soon as the new government entered into office at the end of 2021, meaning companies had some time to gear up for a renewed expansion boost. However, consultancy McKinsey said while achieving projected buildout volumes so far had no been a challenge, the ambitious new goals mean the country risks falling behind its own schedule. But solar power industry organisation BSW Solar is confident its companies can deliver on the increased targets, even arguing these represent the “lower boundary of what is necessary” to reach the country’s climate targets and substitute the coal-fired power plants slated for decommissioning. The industry group says expansion to up to 250 GW is possible by the end of the decade, given the political will. In the long-run, the country could install up to 500 GW, it added.

The wind power industry is more cautious regarding a fast scale-up. German Wind Power Association (BWE) said the current expansion plans already are “very ambitious”. Due to a near total collapse of turbine construction in Germany in the past few years, many companies had scaled down domestic production capacities to focus on markets abroad. The BWE said it expects manufacturers to recalibrate their focus back towards their home market given the perspective of a sustained boost to installations in Germany, an assumption that is backed by resurging interest in wind power auctions as of early 2022. “A forceful expansion will be imperative,” the group said. However, the lobby group said Germany could install up to 200 GW of onshore wind by 2040 if the country shed its “bureaucratic corset.”

For the German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE), the industry’s umbrella organisation, the current targets do not yet reflect the situation resulting from the war in Ukraine and the new focus on supply security. It expects the government to pull more levers to ensure that renewable power can replace fossil fuels, as power demand in general is set to grow to at least 750 terawatt hours (TWh) by 2030. The BEE stressed that bioenergy could play a central role in the push away from Russian fossil power by simultaneously providing alternatives for the power sector, heating and mobility. However, this would require a massive roll-out of electrolysers for biogas plants. Biogas could “immediately” replace 5 percent of Germany’s Russian gas imports, according to the European Biogas Association.

4. Which hurdles are obstructing a fast expansion? And how can they be overcome?

Expansion progress in recent years has been below target values for a wide range of reasons, including cost pressure, low investor confidence and difficulties with project licensing and lawsuits against new installations, particularly regarding onshore wind turbines. The following hurdles are the most important to overcome for the renewables expansion to become faster.

5. What about the parallel expansion of grids and storage capacity?

A power system based on 100 percent renewables needs a variety of storage technologies to become flexible enough for servicing an entire country. These include battery storages, either small ones at home or industrial-scale batteries in factories and pumped-hydro storage, biogas and hydrogen made with renewable power for other large users. Sector-coupling approaches like power-to-heat also allow the direct integration of renewables into the heating sector. In its coalition agreement, the government said that as of 2025, every new heating system had to be operated with 65 percent renewable energy, such as green hydrogen. But the electrolysers needed to turn electricity into hydrogen also require long licensing procedures. Solar PV could also play a significant role in substituting heating gas, lobby group BSW Solar said, arguing that a lack of adequate policy instruments is what keeps solar from being “unleashed” in the sector. Retrofitting existing oil and gas heating systems with additional solar thermal installations could reduce fossil power use significantly and renewables could also play a greater role in district heating, both with solar and geothermal power.

More storage options also mean that less power has to be fed into the grid. But the power grid is still in need of considerable investments to make it ready for the end of fossil and nuclear power. Grid expansion and modernisation that allows the integration of added capacity of renewables and replaces fossil power plants will be just as important as constructing more wind turbines and solar panels. The large planned transmission lines that are needed to connect windy northern Germany with industry centres in the south are said to be “years behind schedule.” Furthermore, local distribution grids have to be upgraded to become more flexible to allow for feed-in by prosumers with solar panels on their homes.

The many decentralised and intermittent renewable power installations require that electricity surplus flows can be redirected through distribution grids during peak input times, such as periods of heavy winds or sunny days around noon. Storage options and load management are one way to provide flexibility, but retrofitting grids to allow for bi-directional power flows will be required too, industry group BEE said. Renewable power association LEE Niedersachsen said bioenergy plants could quickly ramp up their output if load management was improved. In times of high wind power output, too many biogas plants would still be turned off too often to shed load, which also cuts off heat generation with biogas. A better integration of heat and power supply management could offer quick relief, the LEE said.

6. How can Germany’s renewables push be integrated in European climate neutrality plans?

Germany’s central position in Europe makes the integration into a broader European energy transition framework an obvious aim. Renewable power industry group BEE said EU coordination still has considerable room for improvement, given the new urgency posed by the looming standstill of energy trading with Russia. The European Comission’s REPowerEU package has to be integrated into national law quickly in order to make headway regarding a pan-European renewable power system.

Even if rising energy prices are causing concerns over the EU Green Deal’s planned comprehensive carbon pricing system, a better coordination of energy transition efforts offers numerous no-regret investment opportunities for the bloc that helps to make its energy supply both more resilient and more sustainable. The EU Commission said its “Repower EU” plan scheduled for spring 2022 could include higher renewable power goals to take into account the aim of freeing Europe from its dependence on Russian supplies.

According to an analysis by Finnish energy company Wärtsilä, Europe as a whole could halve gas consumption by 2030 by doubling its renewable power capacity. Adding about 80 GW of renewable power capacity per year, roughly twice the current level, would allow it to bring the renewables share in production from roughly 33 percent in 2022 to more than 60 percent at the end of the decade — a “sizeable but realistic” task for European governments, the company said. If the envisaged buildout is achieved, all of Europe could not only massively reduce fossil fuel imports but also have a net-zero energy system by 2040, 10 years earlier than planned.

Via Clean Energy Wire

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Why we must not allow Climate change to create a dangerous state of “collective helplessness” in Liberal Society https://www.juancole.com/2022/02/dangerous-collective-helplessness.html Sat, 19 Feb 2022 05:02:48 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=203049 ( Clean Energy Wire ) – The “increasingly tangible” threat of climate change and other risks at a global scale, such as the coronavirus pandemic or geopolitical tensions in many regions, are spurring a sense of “collective helplessness” in societies around the world, the Munich Security Conference’s (MSC) 2022 report has found.

“Liberal democracies appear to feel particularly overwhelmed,” the report said with a view to the MSC’s Security Index based on polls conducted in different countries, warning that this development is “highly dangerous” and could “turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy” as apathy takes over. Extreme weather events, such as the floods in Germany and other western European countries in the summer of 2021, wildfires in the U.S. and Brazil or droughts and heatwaves elsewhere, “have driven home the message that the effects are already here – and will increase for decades,” the report said, adding that the responses given by governments worldwide are generally perceived as inadequate and “too little, too late” given the dire outlook and urgent calls for action by scientific analyses like the UN’s IPCC report.

The Munich Security Report pointed to surveys in Germany finding that over half of the people believe or even are completely sure that international efforts to curb global warming are bound to fail, while only a tiny fraction is truly optimistic. The level of scepticism was also high in other countries surveyed, such as Italy, Brazil, France or Japan, and generally has grown with respect to last year’s index, with the perception of a “seeming inevitability of climate change” gaining ground. The erosion of trust in people’s own governments and that of the international community to deliver meaningful action is contributing to “the greatest collective-action challenge we have ever faced,” the MSC concluded.

But the report stated that there is also reason for optimism: “As the response to the pandemic has shown, the world’s democracies can still muster enormous resources if need be – so we can surely do the same for addressing climate change as well.” Scientists continue to believe there are ways to keep global warming in check and “while democracies need broad support in this regard, they can still lead the way in this fight.” Risks from climate change and environmental degradation more broadly dominated the index and ranked high in each country surveyed. A majority in most countries agreed to the statement that binding climate neutrality targets are needed for every country in the world.

The MSC’s findings chime with the results of a study by the German science platform for climate action, WPKS, which analysed the potential for encouraging citizens and businesses to focus on the opportunities and attainable goals of climate action. „It’s important to understand that the euphoria about change that many supporters of climate policy feel strongly is increasingly met with scepticism,” said Fritz Reusswig from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), one of the study’s authors.

Growing parts of society could rather be characterised as “tired of change” or even feel anxious about the idea, he said. A possible way to get more people on board regarding the chances and feasibility of emissions reduction, especially municipalities and smaller businesses could play an important role in communicating what can be achieved through climate action, the study found.

Via Clean Energy Wire

Licensed under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” .

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Germany’s First Battery-Powered Train Plies Regional Routes on Way to Green Rails https://www.juancole.com/2022/01/germanys-battery-regional.html Sun, 23 Jan 2022 05:06:38 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=202576 ( Clean Energy Wire ) – Together with French manufacturer Alstom, German railway company Deutsche Bahn is going to start trial runs with the country’s first battery-powered passenger train.

Test operation of the so-called Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU) from Alstom would begin in late January on regional routes in the southern German states of Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg, Deutsche Bahn said. Alstom’s Müslüm Yakisan said the trial runs for the technology developed since 2016 would provide “important data” for the company to improve their battery-driven trains that could cover the routes in Germany’s rail network that have not been fully electrified yet.

Deutsche Bahn plans to become climate-neutral by 2040 and the company’s first battery-powered train would be a major step towards this goal, the railway company’s regional services head Jörg Sandvoß said. Trains fitted with a battery or later also with hydrogen-based engines will gradually replace the current fleet of trains with diesel engines, which is often much more economical than building overhead wiring on all routes.

Germany lags far behind other European countries in the electrification of its railway network, with only 61 percent of its railways electrified, a 2021 NGO analysis found. Railroad freight and passenger trains are seen as a key component for decarbonising the country’s transport sector and Deutsche Bahn received unprecedented state funding just before the coronavirus pandemic decimated passenger numbers to invest in more climate-friendly technologies.

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