At the site of Germany’s Arbeitgeberverband (Federation for German Employers) Dr. Björn Peters wrote a piece describing the recent “Baden-Badener Energiegesprächen“, an energy pow-wow where political and industry leaders met for 2 days to discuss Germany’s energy future.
“Surprised by the realism”
From the two days of presentations, speeches and discussions, there are clear indicators that German political and industry leaders are “finally” realizing that the Energiewende (transition to green energies) is nowhere near as easy as previously expected and promised to the public.
According to Peters, “We were surprised by the realism among the experts”.
His commentary also notes that although the excitement of the Energiewende was great 20 years ago, today the targets of green energies are still a long way off. He reports:
It is only now, after the construction of over 100 gigawatts of power generation capacity, that the realization is beginning to take hold that the expansion of ambient energies is not getting us closer to the purpose of replacing chemical energy sources.”
Technology still decades away
Peters adds that “the sticking point is that it is only the weather-dependent ambient energies that can be expanded greatly, but they have neither the quantity nor the consistency to meet the requirements for a steady and affordable power supply.” He then notes:
The technological components of an energy supply system based on sun and wind first need to be developed. Just the development of suitable power storage cells for bridging windless and sunless periods still requires many decades.”
Green energies miserably implemented, no planning
Peters also writes that “the rapid speed of the power production capacity expansion while the remainder of the energy supply system lagged woefully behind was accepted by all those in attendance as a failure of the Energiewende.”
Another problem, Peters noted – citing the Chairman of the German Renewable Energy Federation, Peter Röttgen – was the go-it-alone approach by individual countries in Europe and the complete lack of infrastructure for storing and transporting solar and wind energy all across the continent. “The energy policy must finally be organized Europe-wide.”
Government electric power consumption goals unrealistic
Another factor that failed to meet expectations was the falling electricity demand. Policymakers had hoped that households, and industry would have lowered their energy consumption by now, mainly through greater efficiency, but that too has not happened. Many of the green ideas simply have limits, or create problems that are worse than the solution.
One example is building insulation, which on many buildings often leads to moisture accumulating in the walls and results mildew and fungus infestation.
Widespread e-mobility “will take decades”
On e-mobility, Peters comments that battery technology for e-mobility is also woefully inadequate for widespread use, and it will take decades before the technology develops.
A call to get back to the facts
Next Peters brings describes how one speaker, Jürgen-Friedrich Hake, a physicist at the renowned Jülich Research Center, who, accompanied by much applause from the audience, called “for more realism and neutral assessment of the body of facts.”
In total there was the impression that the numerous unanswered questions of the ‘Energiewende’ have finally dawned on the energy sector. While only a few years ago hope for rapid solutions to the technical challenges was high at the industry conferences, the degree of realism that has since spread is hard to surpass today. Not only are solution to the know problems being sought, but the industry representatives and policymakers are finally beginning to ask the right questions regarding technical concepts, costs and economic impacts.”