Germany intends to do more to protect the environment. Following the decision of the Constitutional Court in March, the government announced that by 2030, carbon dioxide emissions should be reduced by 65% from 1990 levels, instead of the original plan of 55%. To achieve this goal, more renewable energy power will be needed than previously expected.
The goal sounds challenging, and as usual, the details determine success or failure. In order to achieve this goal, further development and expansion of wind and solar capacity is necessary. How much depends on the estimated electricity consumption in 2030.
So far, the German Ministry of Economic Affairs has assumed that electricity consumption will not change significantly in the next 9 years and will remain at around 580 terawatt hours (TWh). Looking back on the past seems to support this.
“In the past 10 to 20 years, electricity consumption has been relatively stable,” said Johannes Wagner of the Energy Economics Institute (EWI) of the University of Cologne. “Over a long period of time, our total power consumption was about 600 TWh. Due to the impact of the coronavirus, it was only drastically reduced in 2020. ”
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But the facts of the past do not necessarily apply To the future Many experts believe that the government’s planning is too cautious The Prime Minister of Social Democratic Party candidate Olaf Schultz recently criticized this. “Anyone who says that electricity consumption will remain the same by 2030 is cheating themselves and the country,” he said.
What should I do if the power consumption is not the same? What if it increases? What if it increases sharply? This is a scenario assumed by various energy experts.
“The Committee of Experts on Monitoring the Energy Transition to which I belong estimates that electricity consumption will be much higher than the government’s expectations,” Veronica Green told DW. “Our power is about 650 terawatt-hours, so we are still on the lower end of the spectrum,” he said. The think tank
Agora Energiewende, specialized in energy, also mentioned that electricity consumption in 2030 will be 650 TWh. The Cologne EWI estimates that 685 TWh will be needed by then.
The German Renewable Energy Union (BEE) estimates 745 TWh, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) predicts that electricity consumption in 2030 will be 780 TWh. This is 70 to 200 terawatt hours more than the government predicted.
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According to experts, more electricity will be needed, mainly because the switch to electric vehicles and the heating of buildings are different. At the same time, manufacturers will move away from fossil fuels and switch to synthetic energy sources like hydrogen. But the production of green hydrogen also requires electricity.
On the other hand, higher efficiency can reduce energy consumption. Here, the government has set a goal to reduce electricity consumption by 25% by 2050 from 2008 levels by improving energy efficiency.
experts say that these efficiency improvements cannot make up for the additional demand for electricity. In addition, according to research by Agora Energiewende, although such technologies are already available, the high-efficiency potential has not yet been systematically used.
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Energy saving is not enough
The number of new wind turbines and photovoltaic installations Germany needs will depend on how it is developed. Your desire for electricity . Using Agora Energiewende’s relatively low estimate for 2030, Germany must add about 10 gigawatts of solar power, 1.7 gigawatts of onshore wind power, and 4 to 5 gigawatts of offshore wind power each year.
“This is roughly equivalent to our record expansion period in recent years,” said Mara Kleiner of Agora Energiewende. “So this is feasible.”
The current growth of photovoltaic and wind power is below these highs. Therefore, Kleiner believes that more motivation is needed.
Grimm also said that it will be a challenge to significantly accelerate the expansion of renewable energy. Especially for land-based wind power, there are always protests from local residents.
“That’s why we need to focus more on maritime expansion,” Green said. But even so, it is not without its problems, because new transmission lines have to be built throughout Germany, which often meets resistance.
Can only work together
This may not work alone. “Germany currently exports electricity abroad,” said EWI’s Wagner. “In the medium term, we can expect Germany to become a net importer for the first time.”
Manufacturing is an example. Green believes that it is impossible to increase green hydrogen production fast enough. “We must also prepare to import green hydrogen,” he said. Several projects have been carried out with Morocco, Chile, Australia and EU countries. Furthermore, blue hydrogen must also be used in the transition phase. Blue hydrogen is hydrogen produced from natural gas, where carbon dioxide emissions are collected and stored.
But first, the German government will have to recalculate the country’s future electricity demand. Now even German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Angela Merkel) believes that the earlier assumption that electricity demand will not increase “may not be out of date.”
The European Union is expected to introduce some new regulations on climate protection in July. So all EU countries will have to adjust their measures to comply with rules that may be stricter than before.