Berlin – The Germans are conducting an unprecedented energy transformation, which experts say all countries must at some point pass to avoid a global climate disaster. But while discussions on the so-called “Energiewende” have taken place for years and many measures have already been taken, there is still a road full of obstacles for Germany to get there.
The country’s goal was presented at the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change in mid-November this year in Marrakesh, Morocco: to decarbonise almost completely Germany by 2050. They were adopted Reduction targets for various sectors of the economy.
According to the “Klimaschutzplan”, the official document with the German targets, the energy sector will have to reduce carbon emissions between 61% and 62% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, while the construction sector will make a Between 66% and 67% in the same period.
The reduction in the transportation sector will be between 40% and 42%, and the industry will cut from 49% to 51%. Agriculture should reduce CO2 emissions by between 31% and 34%. If this succeeds, the country’s goal is to reduce its carbon footprint by 80% to 95% by 2050.
Energy transformation in Germany gained momentum after the nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan, in March 2011, prompting Chancellor Angela Merkel to announce that the country would close all 17 reactors by 2022. This opened space for new energy stimuli Renewable energy.
But the decision was also criticized. The claims of the more skeptical were that the end of the supply of energy generated by the nuclear power plants would not be adequately compensated by the clean energy plants, and that this could generate a crisis.
Years later, even with some mishaps, the ambitious plan has worked. By 2015, about 27% of the energy produced in Germany came from renewable sources such as solar or wind. That’s three times as big as a decade ago – it’s around 33%.
The main strategy of the German energy revolution is to decentralize the country’s energy supply by providing subsidies for people and businesses to produce their own renewable energy and also to feed the system as a whole.
Through the Renewable Energies Act, known as the EEG (Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz, in German), the government of Germany has established a fixed remuneration scheme for those who install photovoltaic solar panels or small CHP (Combined Heat and Power) Which consists of combining the generation of electric energy with the use of thermal energy – with a potential of up to 100 kWp and can sell the surplus load to the grid.
That is, if you install a system at home, you can not only produce your own energy but also sell the surplus by feeding the system at extra charge.
On the other hand, EEG also establishes a mandatory tariff which is levied on all electricity consumers in Germany. The money is used for the development of renewable energy plants, as well as covering the subsidies. The so-called Energy Intensive Industry (EII), energy-intensive industries such as large manufactures or mining and steel companies, are exempt.
“The remuneration paid for extra energy from small producers has declined over the years. Nowadays, it has been more advantageous to be able to use energy produced for own consumption than to be able to sell the surplus to the system, “explains Professor Wolfgang Irrek, in charge of the field of studies of Energy Management and Electrical Services of the Ruhr West University of Applied Sciences, in Germany.
“Since September 2015, it is only possible to receive financial support for the electricity generated in new installations of photovoltaic panels from participating in an auction, where the level of the tariff paid for energy is established,” he says. “From 2017 onwards, similar auctions will be used for new photovoltaic plant installations, as well as for wind or offshore plants, biomass power plants and other innovative facilities,” adds the professor.
Regarding the exemption given to the IIC for the payment of the “green tariff”, critics of the German model argue that the most disadvantaged are consumers who can not generate their own clean energy, since they pay more to use the system load, While the energy-consuming industries do not have to put their hands in their pockets.
With the government’s incentives, the German population joined mass photovoltaic solar plants. According to Germany’s National Energy Agency, 1.48 GW of capacity was added to the German system only in 2015 with new panels.
At the end of last year, the total installed capacity of the photovoltaic panels in Germany was about 40 GW, distributed in 1.5 million plants of this type all over the country – about 65% of this total was in the hands of the population, not Of companies. The panels accounted for around 7.5% of total energy consumption in the German economy in 2015, according to estimates.
Although positive, this popular participation also exposes another problem that still needs to be circumvented in the country, according to experts: control of energy sources. For a few hours, especially during the summer, when there is a higher incidence of sunshine and the winds are more favorable, renewable sources have a very rapid increase in capacity, while traditional, polluting sources such as nuclear reactors can not pause production Instantly.
The result is that there is an oversupply of energy in the system: a greater load than the population is actually consuming. And to offset the oversupply, prices are negative. In theory, it is as if the government were paying for the population to consume energy at this time.
For some experts, Germany still needs to find intelligent and sustainable ways to store energy to compensate for system swings and not need, in a totally clean energy matrix environment, to borrow energy from nuclear power plants in its neighbors, such as France or even Russian gas.