Making good progress with the Energiewende
Enlarge image (© dpa/picture-alliance) The first Government monitoring report entitled “Energy of the future” shows that Germany’s Energiewende – the transformation of its energy system – is on course.
As part of the “Energy of the future” monitoring process, the German Government takes stock of progress made with the Energiewende each year.
Transforming the energy system is a major challenge, but it also opens up immense opportunities. It breaks new ground in many areas. This is why it is important for it to be monitored closely and continuously. And it is why the German Government established the monitoring process. The annual report, compiled jointly by the Federal Economic Affairs Ministry and the Federal Environment Ministry, highlights the progress made towards meeting the targets and takes stock of the steps taken to implement the pertinent political decisions.
A detailed progress report will be published every three years from 2014. It will be based on data from several years, as used in the monitoring report, and will provide an opportunity for more detailed analysis. The monitoring process has scientific support – an independent commission comprising four renowned energy experts has been set up to advise the ministries.
Successes to date
The German Government set itself a number of ambitious targets for the Energiewende, not least in its Energy Concept of 2010. The first report, for the 2011 reporting year, shows that the Energiewende is progressing well in all key areas:
Energy consumption is declining. It decreased significantly in 2011 despite a considerable rise in economic activity (‑4.9 percent). Gross electricity consumption in 2011 was around 1.5 percent below the level of the previous year and 2.1 percent lower than in 2008. However, the comparatively mild temperatures had a positive influence on both developments.
All in all, Germany’s expansion of renewable energies is on track. In 2011, the share of renewables in gross final energy consumption rose to over 12 percent. In the electricity sector the expansion of renewable energies has exceeded the minimum target. In 2011 the renewables’ share in gross electricity consumption surpassed the 20 percent mark for the first time, and in the first half of 2012 their share was around one quarter.
The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions which has been achieved is well within the range set by the German climate change targets. By 2011 an overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 26.4 percent against 1990 levels had been achieved.
Electricity supplies remain reliable in Germany, despite the shutdown of eight nuclear power stations. However, the grid in southern Germany is under strain. For this reason the latest revision of the Energy Industry Act contains new legal provisions for securing power plant reserve capacities. The foundations have already been laid for speeding up grid expansion.
Measures to implement the Energiewende
Even if we have made good progress, we still have a long way to go. Major efforts are still needed to achieve the ambitious energy and climate targets. Even better use must be made of potential efficiency savings in order to reduce energy consumption in all sectors. Renewables must be further expanded, and the fleet of power stations restructured in a way that guarantees energy security. And lastly, we must push ahead with grid expansion.
Some 160 measures have been launched since the adoption of the Energy Concept. Many of them were implemented quickly. In particular,
the foundations were laid for coordinated grid planning and for accelerating planning and licensing procedures,
measures were taken to improve investment security with respect to offshore wind farms and to improve coordination with regard to grid expansion,
options for market and system integration of renewables have been improved and tariffs for photovoltaics reduced,
more funds have been made available for improving the energy efficiency of buildings, and
support for efficient heat-power cogeneration has been made more attractive.
The German Government has established effective structures and work flows for steering and coordinating the transformation of the energy system, which ensure broad participation by all stakeholders. Key elements include a steering group at state secretary level, biannual energy summits between the Federal Chancellor and the Minister-Presidents of Germany’s regions, regular consultations with the regions and a dialogue with various other stakeholders through the grid platform, the power plant forum and the renewable energies platform.