Climate Change

Germany’s new government announces ambitious decarbonization plan

New German government announced ambitious decarbonization plan

Photo: BMWI

Published

January 13, 2022

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Published:

January 13, 2022

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Germany aims to accelerate the growth of renewable energy sources, especially onshore wind farms. German Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck presented a plan for the decarbonization of industry and electrification of transport and heating. The new government will launch urgent climate programs that need to bring results quickly, to adequately respond to the challenging task of meeting its 2030 climate goals.

According to the current situation, Germany does not meet the emission reduction targets for 2021 and 2022, and is on the way to missing the target for 2030 by 15 percent if new measures are not introduced, Habeck said during the presentation of future government measures in Berlin. The climate targets for 2030 predict a reduction in greenhouse gas levels by 55 percent below 1990 levels.

The minister from Alliance 90/The Greens emphasized the new government faces the task of decarbonizing industry, transport, and heating. In his opinion, the cabinet must quickly adopt comprehensive climate measures in order to return to the right path to reach the climate goal set for the current decade.

Germany intends to accelerate the expansion of renewables

Additional onshore wind capacity is at the heart of the government’s emergency climate action program. Two percent of Germany’s land area must be designated to wind energy, said Habeck, as he announced an initiative for a new onshore wind law.

Installation of solar panels will be mandatory for commercial buildings and for new private buildings. Creating more space for ground-mounted solar installations is also part of the plan for the rapid growth of the two most important renewable energy sources in Germany.

The ministry plans to combine the measures into a so-called Easter package and follow it up with a second, summer package, making the rules and measures up and running from 2023.

Also high on the list in the new plan is an increase in hydrogen resources. Habeck estimated the annual consumption in the steel industry would reach 15 TWh by 2030.

Gas as a reserve energy source

Coal should not simply be replaced by gas, Habeck says. However, Germany will need gas as a backup for when there is not enough wind and sun, and until the necessary infrastructure for hydrogen is built, the minister explained.

Habeck asserted Germany would need new power plants – initially on natural gas, to bridge the period until there are sufficient renewable energy capacities. Still, the government does not support the inclusion of natural gas in the EU green taxonomy.

The task is to balance nature conservation and renewables, Habeck pointed out

If the expansion of renewable energy sources becomes a “dominant public interest,” it could take precedence over other issues, such as nature conservation and animal protection, he said. Finding the right balance between nature conservation and renewable energy is a key task at the moment, Habeck argues.

Increased demand to be countered by reducing consumption

The exemption of consumers from the renewable energy levy on their electricity bills should come in force at the start of next year. There is also plans for increasing the use of heat pumps, the expansion of e-mobility, and the construction of 100,000 new chargers for electric vehicles per year. “In order to make heating and electric driving more attractive, renewable energy should become cheaper,” the minister pointed out.

Habeck’s ministry expects that the annual demand for electricity would increase by 2030 from the current around 560 TWh to around 700 TWh. Also, the ministry wants Germany to reduce electricity consumption by 20% to 25% to achieve the 2030 climate goals.

Investment and industry protection

The government should provide investments of around EUR 860 billion by 2030 to start activities to reduce emissions in all sectors of the economy, influential lobby group Association of German Industries (BDI) said earlier. “The pressure on policymakers to achieve climate neutrality by 2045 while maintaining industry competitiveness is immense,” BDI’s President Siegfried Russwurm underlined.

Rising emissions and slow down in renewables in 2021

The share of renewable energy sources in the energy mix has fallen, and emissions have risen significantly, in stark contrast to Germany’s new climate goals, according to an annual review of German think tank Agora Energiewende.

“On the one hand, 2021 is the year in which Germany set the most ambitious climate goals in its history. On the other hand, the gap in implementation is growing. The new federal government must rush to close this gap with effective climate protection measures, “said Simon Müller, director of Agora Energiewende.

The expansion of renewable energy plants has slowed down. Last year 6.7 GW were installed, so the total power reached 137 GW. About 75% percent of the capacity of the new renewables consists of solar power plants and the rest of the onshore wind farms. No offshore wind turbines were connected to the grid during 2021.

On the other hand, greenhouse gas emissions have increased significantly in Germany. An annual increase of 4.5% of approximately 33 million tons of carbon dioxide was recorded, and the Agora analysis notes that it puts Germany’s 2030 climate target at risk.

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