The risk of banking on renewable energy | DW News
The risk of banking on renewable energy | DW News
Energy ministers meeting in Brussels today will debate the European Commission's proposal for a transition to a carbon neutral economy by 2050.
Aimed at living up to the Paris climate accord.
Now Germany Europe's strongest economy with a huge industrial base has long committed to a green energy transition.
So what does Germany's energy mix consist of.
Let's take a look.
In 2018, renewable energy made up more than a forty percent including wind power hydroelectric solar and biomass.
The conventional energy sources still play a big role too
Take nuclear power, Germany opened its first nuclear power plant 50 years ago.
Since then the country has relied heavily on nuclear energy which still accounted for over 13% of Germany's energy mix in 2018.
But the clock is ticking Germany plans to phase out nuclear power by 2022.
A decision that certainly puts fossil fuels back in focus.
Last year coal, something Germany has plenty of ,accounted for around 38 percent of Germany's energy mix ,natural gas accounts for just around 7 percent.
Now in comparison in the European Union renewables account for just about 30 percent of the total energy mix.
Nuclear energy makes up for over a quarter and coal and gas together about 40 percent.
So Germany looks well positioned for Europe's green energy targets but there is a catch relying on renewables can pose a risk to energy security.
This liquid aluminium has been heated to 900 degrees Celsius.
It'll be used to make thin but stable sheet metal for the packaging and automotive industries.
The smelting process consumes huge amounts of energy.
It has to shine it can't look dull.
You can see it here a little bit.
This is kind of dull and when the samples are like that then I know there's a higher percentage of iron in it.
That's not good more iron means lower prices.
Producing aluminum through electrolysis burns a lot of electricity enough to power a small city.
For the local power company, this smelting site is therefore the logical place to relieve stress from the network if there's a bottleneck.
If that happens, it's taken off grid.
It's fine as long as our electrolysis cells don't get so cold that they shut down or are about to shut down.
But we can get by for an hour.
The power company pays for the outage so there are no financial losses at trimet aluminium.
But the electricity can't be turned off completely for more than two hours for
the entire production process has to be shut down.
Many fear that might become more common as nuclear and coal-fired plants go
offline during Germany's energy transition.
If that occurs more often in the future due to conventional power plants going
offline then things could get pretty hairy.
We would need support in the area.
We wouldn't be able to solve the problem all on our own anymore.
In an attempt to be more independent the smelting plant is also working to develop its own
energy storage systems.
Last year it had to temporarily shut down 8 times.
And for more on this topic.
Let's bring in now andrey wolf from the hamburg Institute of International Economics where he heads the research area international economics and trade good to have you with us.
So in this report we just learned that heavy industry certainly sounds the alarm
Is Germany's energy policy, this energy makes , jeopardizing our energy security.
I think currently it definitely is at least in the absence of the consistent strategy concerning the energy system as a whole.
Because that's lacking at the moment I think.
All right but right now we of course we can still rely on on other energy sources the energy transition isn't complete yet.
Coal certainly is a domestic and very reliable energy source.
But it's also bad for the environment and that is why berlin plans to phase out coal power by 2038.
2038 that's 19 years from now.
19 years of harmful co2 emissions is that in line with the EU sir aim to be basically green.
I think given the few changes phase out of nuclear energy, there's politically no alternative to it.
Because in Germany we need basic law capacities in order to compensate temporary shortages in terms of electricity from renewables.
So in this regard I think a long-term plan for phasing out coal-fired power plants is inevitable.
So was...was Berlin's decision to exit nuclear power premature.
No, I don't think so.
Because there's a widespread opposition in Germany towards nuclear energy.
Especially towards the risk the dangers related to it.
So I don't see much alternative sir or the current approach.
It's a bit like we want our cake and eat it we want to have clean energy.
Nuclear would be clean as long as it's safe.
At the same time we stick to coal for a while and now there's obviously also a very controversial new gas pipeline being built considering that gas only plays a minor
What is your take on Germany's role in this controversial nord stream pipeline which runs from Russia to Germany.
您對德國在從俄羅斯到德國這一備受爭議的nord stream pipeline中的角色有何看法？
I think gas will continue to be an important energy carry on the future because due to its high flexibility it's ideal to complement temporary shortages and fluctuations of the provision of electricity from renewables.
So on this way I think this platform is an important project for Germany but also for Europe as a whole if you want to be successful in terms of our energy transition.
First of all, the EU strives for clean affordable and secure energy supply for all with an interconnected energy grid and that across the block.
How is Germany's energy mix currently fit into the idea of an EU wide energy
I think Germany is in that sense a role model as we are very successful in promoting the expansion of capacities of renewables.
But at the same time, we're not a leader at least concerning the integration of his renewables into an overall strategy.
I think much has to be done right now.
In order to secure that the interconnectivity of different sectors is faster between electricity on the one hand and heating and transport the other hand to make the energy transition successful.
All right, so there's still a lot of work to be done but we're on the right track that's good news. andrey wolf there from the Hamburg Institute of International Economics.
Thank you so much.
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