Let’s be honest: isn’t it fair to say that we in Germany have wasted valuable years on the way to a climate-neutral future? And that this is not only due to technological and environmental reasons but economic ones too? Thinking back to the 1990s, when Germany pioneered renewable energy generation, we had the potential to be the world market leader. How was that opportunity squandered?
The reasons were and still are homemade. They lie in the managed decline of the German solar industry, the sluggish digitalization of power grids, the jungle of approval processes slowing the essential grid expansion and the often poorly informed discussion around the loss of large rotating turbines from the power generation system, which have traditionally provided stability. They also lie in the rules on proximity between wind turbines and residential buildings, the endless back and forth on a German hydrogen strategy and the recognition, only gradually sinking in, that the heating, transport and industrial sectors also need decarbonizing urgently. I could go on. The upshot is that today it seems to be other countries blazing the trail towards a climate-neutral future. Have we missed the boat?
In my view, it’s not yet too late to position Germany in the heart of Europe as a lead market and beacon for a future-proof energy system. But we have to want to do so. Renewal means embracing the change curve, recognizing we are at a low point and then seizing the opportunities that present themselves, accepting compromise and starting to implement things consistently with a clear focus. It’s time to seize opportunities, not miss them!
In this edition, we explore some of the many aspects around the energy topics of the future: What challenges do we need to take on when it comes to the energy system? How can we make ourselves more efficient? After all, energy that is not consumed does not need to be produced, transported, transformed or paid for. And how can consumers become “prosumers”? We finally need to implement distributed power generation – through technology, regulation and public participation – without endangering energy security for individual users. These are all topics at the heart of our work, and VDE has an important contribution to make on all of them. Get ready for action!
Ansgar Hinz, VDE CEO