BDEW: One year after Fukushima - where have we got to with the energy transition?
Müller: Energy transition is a generation project
Politicians should distinguish between short-term and long-term priorities for the implementation of the energy transition / Electricity exchanges considerably changed in 2011
"After one year, the energy transition project has found its way to concrete implementation. It has become apparent that the energy transition is much more than an increase in the volume of electricity generation from wind and sun. It took one year to define the strategic direction. The implementation will take decades. The energy transition is a generation project", said Hildegard Müller, Chairwoman of the General Executive Management Board of the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft - BDEW) as a kind of interim review on the occasion of the approaching anniversary after the terrible events in Japan on 11 March 2011.
Especially because we want to be successful, we demand further political priorities to be set. All parties involved must be aware of the complex interrelations in the energy supply system. "It is increasingly apparent that the energy transition has long arrived at a stage where particular interests will not get us any further but where the companies of the energy industry with their holistic view have taken the role of designers", Müller declared at the BDEW leading event for renewable energies "Smart Renewables" in Berlin.
"One year after the energy turnaround, the government must set priorities and make a clear differentiation of what is important in the short and in the long run", Müller said. Concerning the subject of renewable energies, it was necessary to find short-term solutions such as for improved investment conditions for distribution system operators or for grid connections of offshore plants. First experience gained with the new market premium had to be evaluated at short notice still during this year.
Hildegard Müller: "It is essential that a solution be found very soon for the energy and climate fund. Due to the unexpectedly low prices of CO2 emission certificates, this fund has considerably diminished. The BDEW has drawn attention to the basic shortage of funds right from the beginning. Regrettably, fears have come true. But promotional funds are urgently needed for energy-focused building refurbishment, the construction of new power plants and electric mobility model projects. These are all decisive components for the energy transition. Therefore, the fund must reach at least the originally planned sum of approximately 800 million Euro, if necessary financed by taxes."
It was also important to prioritise the coordination of activities in energy policy between the EU, the Federal Government and the German Laender. The EU had given shape to its visions by the Roadmap 2050. The Federal Government had defined its energy concept. The German Laender and municipalities developed their own energy concepts. "But where do all this information and partly differing goals come together? Who is going to ensure efficient coordination between the German Laender and across national frontiers. It is not the dynamism of the parties involved that is lacking in the implementation of the energy transition, but the steering function. The German government’s body for the coordination of Federal/Laender affairs should adopt a steering function. The first and most urgent task to be named is the development of the grid", Hildegard Müller underlined.
According to the BDEW, the energy transition has already led to a substantial change of realities; and these realities are not waiting for political activities. The share of renewable energies increased from 16 percent in 2010 to about 20 percent in 2011. As a result of the early shutdown of certain nuclear power stations, the share of nuclear energy decreased from 22 to 18 percent. On the other hand, electricity generation from lignite increased and reached a share of 25 percent (2010: 23 percent). The shares of hard coal (19 percent) and natural gas (14 percent) in the energy mix remained unchanged.
As recent BDEW figures for the year 2011 have shown, electricity exchanges have also undergone substantial changes: While Germany’s net balance of exchanges with other countries showed an export surplus of approximately 18 billion kilowatt-hours in 2010, this share decreased in the past year to about 6 billion kilowatt-hours. This is however a static analysis. "According to the Federal Network Agency, interferences in grid operation have strongly increased in 2011 as compared to 2010. Besides, industrial enterprises increasingly complain that the number of fluctuations in electricity system operation has grown", Hildegard Müller explained.
"Since the political decision on early nuclear phase-out and the acceleration of renewables’ development has been taken about one year ago, new issues and questions are continuously arising. The energy turnaround entails an ever increasing spectrum of tasks. Players need to recognise that energy transition is a learning process where the conditions for action are constantly changing. The BDEW and its member companies will continue to precisely name the challenges and explain correlations with a view to enabling all parties concerned to constructively work together to find solutions", Hildegard Müller declared.