Thursday, October 28

The German Greens take the ‘moderate route’


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All German political parties go to elections with a large climate protection program, although it does not appear as the main topic at election rallies. «They are not pleasant or popular proposals, the question of how we should change our lives does not please. We often have to tell people: ‘no, you can’t keep using your diesel car’, ‘we trust public transport, a working rail network and good bike lanes, “he acknowledges. Katharina Sparrer, a green candidate in the Dinkelsbühl district, who admits that these are not easy messages to post at an election rally. But precisely for this reason, a significant proportion of the young German electorate has turned its back on this party, which came to appear as the winner in the polls, but which has lost in voting intention to 12%. The desire of this party to become part of the next governing coalition has led its leadership to opt for the ‘moderate path’, which does not directly collide with job creation.

Six young people camped outside the German Bundestag carry three weeks on hunger strike, fighting based on broths for an advance of the dates planned for the abandonment of coal and climate neutrality. None of them will vote for the Los Verdes party. As planned, German nuclear power plants will shut down permanently by the end of 2022, coal plants by 2030, with an emission reduction of 65% to reach climate neutrality in 2045. But in the first half of 2021, the German energy from coal increased by 35.5% compared to the first half of 2020. The reason was precisely the weather, the decrease in winds forced to pull the defunct source and according to the Federal Statistical Office the German plants that use In those six months, coal produced 70.2 billion kilowatt hours, 27.1% of the German electricity mix. Wind turbines, meanwhile, only produced 57 billion kilowatt hours due to frequent pauses, a fifth less than in the same period last year. Its participation in the mix was reduced by 7% to 22.1%. If in 2020 wind farms generated more electricity than coal-fired power plants for the first time in history, the climate triumph turned around again last semester and the German economy once again finds itself faced with a dilemma with no apparent solution.

Germany’s new climate targets cut emissions budget for the energy sector 175 to 108 million tons per year in 2030, from approximately 280 million tonnes today. The government assumes that some 25 million tons will be emitted from heating plants and refineries alone. This means that, assuming Germany reaches its target of a 65% share of renewables by 2030 and has a total energy consumption of 655 terawatt hours (TWh), 229 TWh will still need to be provided by fossil power plants, despite of the necessary imports. Even if the remaining 35% of the energy mix was provided by gas, coal would still fall outside the emissions budget.

On legislative paper, in just ten years up to ten million electric cars will be on German roads, citizens will heat their living rooms with green electricity, instead of oil or gas, and more and more industrial companies will replace fossil fuels with green hydrogen. This ideal reduction in emissions has as a side effect a drastic increase in the demand for electricity. «The demand for electricity will increase significantly; we expect a plus of around a quarter by 2030 ”, says Max Gierkink of the Institute for Energy Economics at the University of Cologne (EWI), who categorically states that Germany will not reach the target of 65% renewable energy in the electricity mix in 2030 because the expansion of wind and solar energy will not be able to keep up with consumption.

EWI experts estimate that gross electricity consumption in 2030 will be up to 748 terawatt hours (TWh). This corresponds to an increase of almost 26% in the electricity consumption of Germans in 2020 and is much more than what the government estimates, whose plans include a 4.5% decrease to 590 TWh by 2030. Gierkink estimates that traffic will increase electricity consumption by 64 TWh by 2030, buildings by 17 TWh, while industry will decrease its demand by 15 TWh. The EWI also estimates an increase in electricity demand of 55 TWh due to electrolysis, the production of hydrogen. In short, Germany is facing a dangerous green electricity gap, with which it will only be able to cover 46% of its consumption in 2030. “We are currently seven times below what we really need when it comes to expanding wind energy, he admits Katharina Sparrer, Director of Energy Development at EnBW in Baden-Württemberg, who estimates an increase in electricity demand of a quarter by 2030.

German industry is involved with more or less fervor in the energy transition. RWE, which Axa has stopped ensuring due to its plans to continue burning lignite, is now considering filling the gap with gas and presenting the decision to shareholders on the EBITDA side, which would improve the share price from 33 about 50 euros. Bayer and BASF have announced that they will operate in a climate neutral manner in 2030. Lanxess in 2040. But they will only be able to meet this with a sufficient supply of green electricity. More than 30,500 wind turbines and more than 1.5 million solar systems currently cover 43% of Germany’s electricity needs. In ten years, according to government plans, it would be necessary for the wind farms to produce a total power of 69,000 megawatts (MW) and this would require an addition of at least 3,800 MW per year. In other words: at least 3.5 wind turbines would have to be installed per day. “In 2019, however, only 0.5 wind turbines were built per day,” laments Güsewell, “renewable energies will not even be able to cover half of electricity consumption in 2030.”

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