We are still a long way from seeing a pollution-free world. While there are many reasons behind this, one of the major causes is the inability of world nations to hit their national energy and climate plans (NECP).
Eastern European countries like Serbia, Romania, and Poland failed to keep up with the European Commission’s green energy targets for 2030. According to the Energy Transition Index ETI 2021 the governments of these states are far behind in terms of planning and execution. This opens new possibilities for German wind developers to use their expertise to uplift their fellow European states. This article investigates how Eastern European nations can profit from the experience of German wind developers and their know-how to accelerate their clean energy transition.
This graph shows, how much renewable energy the different countries generate in comparison to tonnes of oil, that would be needed to produce the same amount of energy. Even if Germany got a much bigger industry and population, that relativizes the numbers a bit, you can clearly see the difference to other countries in Europe.
Early promotion of renewables by law
Germany’s transition into renewables has multiple aspects that deserve worldwide attention. Germany’s renewable energy output surged from 20MW to 7747MW (offshore wind energy) between 1988 and 2020. The country’s planning, skillset, the execution is worth looking into.
The German support policy of 1990 triggered the growth of wind and solar energy sectors across Europe. Following this, many European countries took up initiatives for renewable energy expansion.
Even though these countries all had their own share of ideas, it was the 1990s German support policy that became the main driver for exponential growth in the wind and solar renewable sector.
In 1988, Germany introduced the feed-in-law and in 2005, it rapidly reduced subsidies for renewables. The nation’s renewable energy sector grew massively during this period. This growth set a global standard for curbing CO2 and methane emissions. The feed-in law didn’t use the public budget funds but imposed them on the suppliers and the customers. The premiums were calculated annually as a percentage of the mean specific revenues for all the electricity sold via the public electricity grid. The remuneration changed every year because the energy generated and supplied was different every year. From the year of announcing feed in law, there were lot of subsidies given to promote the RES such as 1000 roof program (for PV), 250MW wind program, 100,000 roof program of 2003 (300MW). The subsidies provided had a good impact on the growth of RES and as time progressed the Government reduced the initiative of subsidies because people had accepted the technological growth.
The factors that pushed the German energy transition
Germany’s governmental policies positively influenced people regarding the change from traditional energy to renewables. The following factors played a key role in the renewable energy transition:
- Investment subsidies
- Soft loans
- Tax allowances
- Feed-in tariffs
The German government’s positive approach allowed developers to introduce their ideas into the market. The nation had clear intentions regarding the global cause and allocated adequate funding for the same. This allowed developers to utilize their skills to the fullest.
Germany’s renewable growth has been sluggish for the past 3 years. However, it still provides the best working example of renewable growth. Taking a cue from Germany, other countries accelerated their renewable energy transition using these strategies:
- Coalition of 2 political parties during emergency
- Termination of demarcation treaties
- Eco-tax reforms
The ideology of feed in-laws, a coalition of two political parties at the time of emergency, end of demarcation treaties, and Eco-tax reform are some of the examples that other countries have considered to speed up their growth in the renewables.
Nuclear phase-out pushes renewable energies
Economic pressures, industry lobbying, competing policies, and political short-sightedness have been the biggest challenges to the clean energy transition.
The political coalition of red-green parties in 2003 to launch the Energy supply act and phase out nuclear power was a big leap for renewable energy growth in Germany. The nation will phase out its last working nuclear power plant by the end of 2022. Eastern European countries like Romania, Ukraine, and Slovakia need to take a similar leap to phase out nuclear power and bring in more renewable energy.
Croatia is on the same path as Germany, with plans to phase out its nuclear power plant (a Slovenian power plant co-owned by Croatia) by the end of 2023. Market forces alone cannot bring the desired changes. Hence there must be strong policies in this direction initiated by governments. Many nations have stringent environmental protection laws in place. This includes rewards for those who cooperate and strict punishments for violators.
The World Energy Transition Outlook (WETO) suggests several steps to ensure sustainable development. It aims to create a baseline for policy makers to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2050.
Policymakers set the goal, stakeholders shape the path
Once the first key player, the government, leads the way with a framework, it is up to the developers to help achieve the targets by developing people skills and integrate new collaboration technologies.The Stakeholders being the followers of the framework provided by the government need to be skillful to bring the initiative into action. They need to know the technological advancements, people mentality, acceptance of the change, and more over the required data from the matured countries. While the mature nations try to eliminate non-renewable energy, countries like Romania and Slovakia are investing more money to build nuclear power plants.
Poland is another example where renewable energy growth is lagging. The country generates over 55% of energy from coal which is certainly not the best practice during times of growing environmental concern. Markets in every country are different and hence the approaches must be different. In case all groups of the society are not pleased, projects worth millions can go to waste. While innovations are crucial to bringing changes, society needs to stay satisfied as well. To do this, governments can bring in rewards for renewable energy generation and give incentives to the communities nearby the energy generation units. The pick out example is giving 0.2Cent/KWh for 20 years to the community allowing to construct wind parks. The other one is giving electricity generated from the wind park on a reduced tariff to the community.
The total energy generation of countries like Croatia, Poland, and Germany are taken here for a comparison. Poland has a wider dependency on coal and other sources of energy, whereas Croatia has more dependency on oil and gas compared to Germany. Even though the percentage of dependency on RES is less in Germany the decision to rule out nuclear energy and the NECP draft uplifts the RES to 30% by the end of 2030.
A sustainable future is built on “all-level communication”
A thorough understanding of the political situation, social sentiments, and cultural differences is necessary for a smooth path ahead. Besides, governments should prioritize the following:
- Learning about the economic stability of the new market and the future needs of the market
- Formulate detailed action plans based on the market research
- Provide adequate funding for innovations
- Understand how other nations successfully transition to renewable energy and apply the insights while formulating action plans
At the end of the day, it all comes down to collaboration on all levels—among individuals, investors, political parties, or multinational companies. The Paris agreement, National energy and climate plans, and the European Commission call for international coordination. Innovation with a collective sense of commitment can realize an effective and growing energy transition, new industry sectors and a sustainable future for our planet.
This article is part of the German Wind Power Magazine issue 02-2022, the international magazine of the German Wind Energy association about innovative technologies from the German wind industry. You can read the full magazine with the more articles like this here for free.