Scientists have presented a concept of how German energy supply can be wholly converted to renewable energy by the year 2050. 10/2010


It’s really a matter of political decision-making, said Wolfgang Eberhardt, managing director for science-related activities at the Helmholtz Center for Materials and Energy (HZB), at the annual conference of the Renewable Energy Research Association (FVEE) in Berlin this October. “But there is still a lot of research to do”, he added. Back in June, the FVEE submitted to the German federal government its vision of a fully renewable energy supply and a CO2-neutral energy economy. Its aims are partly reflected in the government’s energy concept. By 2050 renewable energy is to make up 60 percent of total energy consumption. In electric power, the goal is 80 percent. By way of comparison, in 2009 renewable energy accounted for 10 percent of final energy consumption and 16 percent of electricity production in Germany.

“We have to banish fire from power plants” said Jürgen Schmid, chief executive of the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES) in Kassel. Electricity should be mainly derived from solar, wind and hydropower. Where this isn’t feasible, he wants to recover waste heat from power generation by means of cogeneration. Added to this are intelligent electricity grids, high-performance trans-European power lines and new technologies for chemical power storage. Schmid likewise wants to ban fire from heating and transportation as far as possible.

The FVEE expects the differential costs between renewable and conventional energy sources to rise at first in the expansion phase. These are currently about 12 billion euros annually, according to Frithjof Staiss, director of the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW) in Stuttgart. They would reach a maximum of 17 billion euros by 2015, at which point costs are expected to sink, resulting in a differential advantage for renewable energy of 18 billion euros by the year 2030.

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