Goals of Energiewende

What are the key issues and challenges?

The generation and consumption of electricity are central to the Energiewende because renewables will replace risky or CO2-intensive fuels such as nuclear energy and coal. In addition, in the medium term, an increasing share of Germany’s heating and transportation needs will be provided by electricity. The Energiewende’s targets in the power sector are:

  • Renewable energy: The electricity supply will consist of at least an 80 percent share of renewable energies by 2050. There are also  intermediate targets of 35 to 40 percent share by 2025 and 55 to 60 percent by 2035.
  • Energy efficiency: Energy consumption shall be reduced by 10 percent by 2020 and 25 percent by 2050 compared to 2008 levels.

In Germany, the developments in the fields of renewable energy and energy efficiency have been very different. While the production of electricity from wind, solar, water, and biomass has been increasing steadily since 1990 (see Figure 1), energy consumption in recent years has remained largely constant (see Figure 2).

The Energiewende in the power sector is largely a result of the expansion of wind and solar energy production. All of the other renewable-energy technologies are either more expensive or have only limited potential for expansion. Wind power and photovoltaic (PV) have experienced an incredible drop in cost in recent years. By 2015, wind and PV systems should be able to produce a kilowatt hour of electricity for seven to ten (euro) cents. An energy mix of wind, photovoltaic, and backup capacity will then be in the same price range as an energy mix dominated by new gas and coal-fired plants.

Wind-power and photovoltaic technologies are thus far the two most important pillars of the Energiewende: Their share of renewable electricity production in 2020 will be around 70 per cent, and after that rise to 80 to 90 per cent. This development will fundamentally change Germany’s power system and the electricity market. Why? Because wind power and photovoltaic are fundamentally different from conventional energy sources: Their production of electricity depends on the weather. They have high investment costs, but almost no operating costs. Moreover, their production levels fluctuate in the course of every day.

It’s all about wind and solar! Stemming from this thesis about the energy transition, Agora Energiewende has derived 12 insights on Germany’s transition to an economy based on clean energy.

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