The Enormous Performance and Potential of Renewable Energies

At the beginning of the German energy transformation was people’s increasing desire to shape their own local energy supply. Linked to this reflection on the power of regional structures was a conviction that the use of finite raw materials to generate energy should be reduced, as it is accompanied by severe environmental damage. At the same time, the idea of efficiency and resource conservation became significant. After little more than a generation, renewable energies in a broad mix of technologies now account for half of the German electricity market. They support the security of supply of our European neighbors and have a price-dampening effect. Their use in heating, mobility, and industry is growing. Leaps in innovation from the midst of small and medium-sized industries have driven and continue to drive development. At the same time, renewable energies are now recognized as freedom energies, because they can put an end to former dependencies.

The Paris climate agreement is creating global momentum for the switch to renewable energies. Even if the path has not been straightforward, Germany is at the forefront at many technological intersections. German plant technology is in demand worldwide. We are leaders in the management of electricity and gas infrastructures. Forecasting models for fluctuating energy feed-in are becoming increasingly accurate, and the technical availability of power plants is enormous. We have gained a head start in electrolysis plants and heat pumps. This all gives us reason to be confident that decarbonization will lead to a real comeback for Germany as an industrial location. Climate neutrality creates future markets.

For Germany, the new federal government has made the political goals for decarbonization more dynamic. The expansion of renewables, especially wind and solar energy, is already picking up significantly. Bioenergy will have to be integrated as a strong building block in flexible back-up, and geothermal energy has been recognized as a lever for heat supply. At the same time, Germany has completed the phase-out of nuclear energy, and the phase-out of coal is also accelerating as a result of newly reached agreements. Europe is also setting the pace with the Green Deal. Here, the EU wants to create green lead markets and initiate the rebuilding of globally competitive European manufacturing.

Ultimately, debates about our energy supply are always about the central issues that maintain social cohesion. This cohesion gives the foundation for economic strength and contributes to the great appeal of liberal democracy. At the same time, broad participation in the social prosperity thus achieved creates a stable basis for formative political goals. For many years, German federal governments have internalized this matrix of goals and pursued it across all coalitions in the energy transformation. The performance and potential of renewable energies are far from exhausted. Germany can meet substantial parts of its growing demand for green energy but will benefit from open European and international markets.

The energy sector is built on tight government regulation. Therefore, active support from the legislature at the federal and state levels is needed to achieve our political goals. In this respect, it is important to contribute to the ongoing debates in a solution-oriented manner. Now is the right time to establish an additional platform for this, which will focus on the German energy transition, take Europe into account, and consider a variety of climate partnerships. It remains essential to find new ways and to develop further alternative energy sources. The Clean Energy Forum provides the platform for technology and markets.

AuthorWolfram Axthelm

Born in 1967, he grew up in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The agricultural engineer and graduate in business administration was responsible for the public relations work of the CDU parliamentary group in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania as spokesman until 2013. He is a managing director in the German Wind Energy Association and BWE Service GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of the association, which organizes conferences, seminars and further training courses for the wind industry. He represents the industry on the board of the Fachagentur Windenergie an Land (FA Wind) and as a full member of the advisory board of the Kompetenzzentrum Naturschutz und Energiewende (KNE). Since February 2019, he has also been one of two managing directors in the German Renewable Energy Federation.