The German government’s 2010 Energy Concept already pointed the way towards an era of renewable energies. In 2011 the government, along with the German parliament, the Bundestag, and the Bundesrat, representing the individual German federal states, adopted another far reaching package of measures. The Fukushima disaster taught us that speed is of the essence as we endeavour to put our energy supply on a more sustainable footing.
In 2011 the German government once again reaffirmed ambitious reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions: by 2020 they are to be cut by 40%, by 2030 by 55%, by 2040 by 70% and by 2050 by as much as 80 to 95% – taking 1990 as the base year in each case.
The German government’s energy concept – objectives and the way forward
The use of renewable energies is to be stepped up such that renewables account for a major percentage of power generated. The percentage of the country’s gross final energy consumption generated from renewables is to rise from about 10% in 2010 to 60% in 2050. By 2050 at the latest, a minimum of 80% of the electricity supply is to be generated from renewables (the target was updated in the 2012 Renewable Energies Act, EEG).
Reduction of energy consumption in the long term
By 2050 primary energy consumption is to be cut by 50% in comparison to 2008. If we are to achieve this, energy productivity must rise by an average of 2.1% per annum, in terms of final energy consumption.
Electricity consumption is to be cut by 25% by 2050, as compared to 2008; even by 2020 it is to be cut by 10%.
The renovation of older buildings to make them more energy efficient is to be stepped up. Currently about 1% of the building stock is renovated per annum; this is to be doubled to 2%.
The final energy consumption in the traffic and transport sector is to be cut by about 40% by 2050, compared to 2005 levels.
Germany has made significant progress on expanding the plants available to generate power from wind, solar energy and biomass. More than 20% of electricity is now generated from renewable energy sources. This progress is largely attributable to the Renewable Energies Act (EEG), which provides fixed rates for producers of green energy. The secure framework for investment thus created has triggered dynamic growth in many fields of renewables.
Energy efficiency is another key to ensuring that renewable energies account for a high percentage of the power supply and achieving the targets laid out in the Energy Concept, while ensuring that the economic side of progress is also rational.
In Germany there is still a huge potential for saving energy and electricity. These options should be maximised, as far as economically and technically possible. The German government is placing its faith in the willingness of industry and individual citizens to accept their responsibility and do their bit.
New, more efficient power grids
In Germany today, most power is still generated relatively close to where it is used. In future a lot more power will be generated at sea and along the coast. In addition to this a large number of decentralised generating plants, including solar power plants and biomass plants, will be feeding electricity into the national grid. This makes a modern, effective grid a crucial precondition for raising the percentage of the electricity supply generated from renewables.
The government aims to make Germany one of the most progressive and energy-efficient economies on the planet with competitive energy prices, a secure energy supply and a high level of prosperity.
On the way to a sustainable future, we must be open and learn from new findings. The events of March 2011 in Fukushima demonstrated only too clearly that even a high-tech country cannot neutralise all the risks involved in the use of nuclear power. This is why the German government has decided to phase out the use of nuclear power by 2022.
The effort to put Germany’s power supply on a new and more viable footing is a huge challenge for private business and citizens alike, while also calling for massive investment in infrastructure. One thing is clear. Decades will be needed to complete the shift to alternative power sources. We will only succeed if there is broad support within society for the shift and for all it will entail.
Above all, we must not lose sight of the positive prospects – the technological and economic opportunities for competitiveness and for protecting the global climate and the natural resource base on which we all depend.