The Energiewende doesn’t just affect the energy sector, it also has repercussions for industry in general. The transition to a low-carbon economy will be successful only if Germany’s industrial base remains strong while the share of renewable energies grows. So far, this has been the case. Renewables have now grown to more than 36 percent of the power mix, while German industry has remained competitive internationally. The goal is to maintain this position even when renewables make up 80 percent of the power mix.
Five factors are key: First, energy system costs must be kept as low as possible at any given rate of renewables expansion. This means minimising the cost of expanding renewables and also the cost of flexibility options for a system with a high volume of fluctuating power. Second, industrial power costs - especially among energy-intensive industries – cannot be so high that they threaten the competitiveness of German industry compared to countries with lower climate protection goals. Third, energy efficiency is key: Higher industrial energy efficiency reduces the burden of energy costs for German companies significantly, while increasing competitiveness. Fourth, through active load management, industry can be a source of flexibility, generating new sources of revenue in the market and benefitting when a surplus of wind and solar power push market prices lower. Finally, Germany as an export country can benefit from its pioneering role in the energy transition. The market for wind and solar power is booming. More and more countries are facing the same challenges in integrating renewable power into their electricity systems. Technologies and know-how developed in Germany through the Energiewende can now be exported worldwide.
In addition to emissions from energy generation, greenhouse gas emissions from production processes will also become increasingly important in the future. This is a consequence both of the German Climate Protection Plan 2050 and of the international emission targets, which demand greenhouse gas neutrality by the middle of the century. This also offers opportunities for German industry. After all, it is not just a matter of developing and applying the key technologies for greenhouse gas-neutral economic activity, but also of achieving success in the growing global market for climate protection technologies.