Will Germany be able to achieve its wind energy goals? – DW – 04/02/2024

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is optimistic that his ruling coalition, made up of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Green Party and the neoliberal Free Democratic Party, will boost the country’s energy transition. He remains confident despite Germany’s budget problems, growing bureaucratic challenges, and frustration among much of German society.

“If we succeed in achieving what we set out to achieve, and I am sure we will, we will break 200 years of industrial tradition and prosperity based on coal, gas and oil,” he said in Potsdam on Monday, January 29. .

Currently, about 30% of German electricity is still generated by burning coal and gas. Meanwhile, wind turbines generate nearly half of the country’s power. The government intends to move to completely neutral electricity production, mainly through the construction of large wind farms in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.

Too ambitious goals?

To achieve this goal, Germany will have to quadruple the amount of energy generated by wind turbines in just six years. However, wind industry representatives warned that this could be difficult.

According to the German Wind Energy Association, only 27 new wind turbines will be connected to the grid in 2023.

Transporting wind energy from Germany's shores remains an infrastructure challenge.
Transporting wind energy from Germany’s shores remains an infrastructure challenge.Photo: Andreas Franke/DPA/Alliance Image

In a recent letter, the German Federal Hydrographic and Maritime Agency warned that the establishment of certain connections to the North Sea grid could be delayed by up to two years due to bottlenecks in transformer construction.

Seaports are essential to meet infrastructure challenges

Producing electricity through offshore wind farms is one thing, but transporting that electricity ashore via massive power cables is quite another. As well as installing large transformers that convert alternating current into direct current so that electricity can be sent from northern Germany to the country’s industrial heartland in the south and west.

Experts estimate that an area equivalent to 270 football fields will soon be needed in German ports to develop the wind energy sector.

“Offshore ports are key hubs for offshore wind energy,” said Karina Wurz, CEO of the Offshore Wind Energy Foundation. He added that they are necessary for the construction and decommissioning of wind farms, and serve as service ports for operation and maintenance and storage and production sites.

Scholz (at microphone) and Robert Habeck (right) inaugurate a new LNG terminal in Wilhelmshaven in December 2022.
Scholz (at microphone) and Robert Habeck (right) inaugurate a new LNG terminal in Wilhelmshaven in December 2022.Photograph: Axel Hemken/AFP/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Greenpeace believes that the German government is setting the wrong priorities, for example by investing too much money in liquefied natural gas terminals.

Martin Kaiser, an energy and climate expert at Greenpeace, told DW that it was unacceptable that Germany’s lack of conversion stations and Schulz’s misguided priorities meant Germany would fail to meet its renewable energy targets.

The government built the LNG terminals after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022 ended the flow of Russian gas to Germany, forcing the country to import gas from other countries.

Germany lacks funds for wind energy

However, the government lacks the funds to grow the offshore wind sector as it will need to take out new loans, but this is strictly prohibited by law.

One possibility is to create a special fund to support the sector, similar to the special fund for the German armed forces. German Economy Minister Robert Habeck of the Green Party, also in charge of the climate portfolio, proposed last week in the Bundestag the creation of such a fund to grow the wind energy sector and address other issues.

However, the proposal was immediately rejected by the opposition as well as by its coalition partner, the Free Democratic Party.

(r/dzk)

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