Energiewende
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2022-05-30 press release

Energy transition bottom-up and full speed

  • VDE, GreenTEC Campus, BSKI and MIT reaffirm solidarity on the energy transition
  • Germany/Europe can again become an international alternative at eye level in the triangle of tension digitalization-decarbonization-sovereignization through political-social-technological sovereignty

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In order to break free from dependence on Russia and Asia for energy supply, the energy turnaround must now be accomplished "bottom-up" and "at full speed". The fact that accelerated self-sufficiency with renewable energies (RE) is possible in the short term, both in the kilowatt and megawatt range, was demonstrated today by the technology organization VDE, the GreenTEC Campus, the German Association for Critical Infrastructures (BSKI) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at the press conference on the occasion of the Hannover Messe. To achieve this, industry, cities and municipalities must make better use of their existing land and make it available for renewable energy. The approval process and grid and storage expansion must be accelerated, and hydrogen must be produced cost-effectively.

"We must support the willing through end bureaucratization and streamline and accelerate approval processes. If we pull together, we will be able to supply ourselves completely self-sufficiently with renewable energies in the short term," VDE, GreenTEC Campus and BSKI agreed. To stabilize supply chains and expand technology know-how and transfer, Europe and the U.S. need to move closer together and play to their strengths, MIT added. Complete self-sufficiency in Germany is possible in the next few years. However, there is a need to invest more in excellence research adapted to the market and the framework conditions, including in storage capacity and grid adaptation, and to strengthen the European RE industry. The investors urgently needed for the energy turnaround exist, "We just need to put them in touch with the decisive companies as well as start-ups now. VDE, as a neutral technical and scientific organization, offers the platform for networking here", said Burkhard Holder, VDE Renewables. He said he is already in contact with family foundations. The greater challenge, however, is to recruit the specialists.

Use any roof

In order to cover our entire energy demand from RE, a massive expansion of PV capacity is necessary, in addition to a number of other measures. In recent years, only a maximum of 5 GWp per year has been installed. To catch up, a bottom-up approach is needed, especially in the PV sector. A huge, untapped potential is offered by industry, cities and municipalities. They need to make better use of their existing surfaces - on industrial and commercial roofs, over parking lots, along highways, or even open-pit lakes - and make them available for PV installations. "Many industrial and commercial companies have already recognized the advantage," he said. "It's time for renewable energies to be used across the board in Germany, too," Holder warns, adding, "And to clear up a fairy tale: volatile solar power does not jeopardize security of supply. This could even be improved with the expansion of photovoltaics. From what used to be about 30 minutes of disruption per year, we are now at about ten minutes."

Expand production capacities in Europe

The expansion with photovoltaics must proceed quickly - and not only in Germany, but worldwide. For Europe in particular, this means that the supply chains along the photovoltaic production must be secured. Currently, there is a great dependence on supplies from the Asian region. The gas supplies from Russia show how damaging such dependencies are. Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen industrial manufacturing in Europe again. Due to the excellent research infrastructure, a modern mechanical engineering and the growing domestic market, Europe and especially Germany is in a good position. Political support, e.g. through Important Projects of Common European Interest - IPCEI, analogous to the development of battery production, are measures to accelerate industrial PV production in Germany and Europe and thus ensure long-term energy sovereignty.

Bringing wind power to the consumer

Wind power is indispensable for security of supply. And for this, in turn, adapted grids and storage infrastructure. In Schleswig-Holstein alone, there has been considerable potential in wind power generation for years, which has remained unused due to turbine curtailment and the lack of adapted grids and storage infrastructure. "Electricity consumption in Schleswig-Holstein is not covered by wind power at the same time in real terms, but at least around 160 percent in purely mathematical terms," calculated Marten Jensen, GreenTEC Campus. "However, wind farms had to be shut down for days in some cases just because the grids are not sufficient and storage facilities are lacking. At the same time, we have a catastrophic renewable undersupply in the heat and transport sectors," Jensen vented. He believes the time has come for a fresh start. "We show every day on our campus how the surplus electricity can be transferred to the transport and heat sectors, as well as the new data center sector. If all the generators are efficiently interconnected, we can intelligently balance power fluctuations."

Here, a proper mix of large and small wind turbines as well as decentralized and local generators is necessary. What additional lessons can we learn from the crisis - pressure for action, for accelerated and combined energy and mobility transition towards a symbiosis of both sectors. Jensen's vision is for electromobility to be available as an emergency mobile power generator: "You have to realize that today, with the 620,000 registered vehicles in Germany, with an average battery capacity of 55kWh, there are already 34,000 MWh of mobile energy on the road." 

Hydrogen as a key technology 

Hydrogen is one of the key elements in the energy transition. In order for hydrogen to become widely accepted as an energy carrier, it must be produced at market prices, in sufficient quantities and in a climate-neutral manner. The focus here is on electrolysis. The green hydrogen produced in this way must be stored seasonally and transported to consumers. The consumers exist in all sectors, regardless of whether they are back-generation into the grid, fuel cell mobility or in the heat sector - the temporal and local decoupling of production in RE plants from use at the consumer is one of the greatest advantages. This requires low-cost, secure hydrogen storage and transport systems, as well as fuel cells and new processes in energy-intensive industries. Hydrogen terminals must already be planned for the import of hydrogen and its distribution. Although Germany is well positioned in this respect, the task now is to establish the technology provided throughout the energy market, even beyond the start-up financing. To this end, the VDE is developing customized solutions for the finance and insurance industries and their customers.

Back to start

Corona and the war in Ukraine have shown the West the impact of enormous dependence on unstable supply chains and non-disruptive sources. The West has woken up from its slumber. There has been a massive increase in the number of production facilities for RE or microchips. Companies such as Meyer Burger in PV, Bosch in microelectronics and hydrogen, for example, show that Europe is coming back. "It's not about de-globalization. It is about Germany/Europe being back on an international level through political, social and technological sovereignty in the triangle of tension digitalization-decarbonization-sovereignization. So that we can play our role as mediator and shaper between the two world powers, the USA and China, we are now finally coming out of our henpecked cinema with Coke in our left hand and popcorn in our right," Ansgar Hinz, CEO of the VDE Group, concluded. Vice Chancellor and Minister of Economics, Robert Habeck, added in his message to VDE, GreenTEC Campus, BSKI and MIT: "An accelerated energy transition is the be-all and end-all for an affordable, independent and secure energy supply. Digitization provides the basis for networking all of this with the necessary technologies. This then also leads to sovereignty and disruption resistance in Germany, Europe and the world."

About VDE

VDE, one of the largest technology organizations in Europe, has been regarded as a synonym for innovation and technological progress for more than 125 years. VDE is the only organization in the world that combines science, standardization, testing, certification, and application consulting under one umbrella. The VDE mark has been synonymous with the highest safety standards and consumer protection for more than 100 years.

Our passion is the advancement of technology, the next generation of engineers and technologists, and lifelong learning and career development “on the job”. Within the VDE network more than 2,000 employees at over 60 locations worldwide, more than 100,000 honorary experts, and around 1,500 companies are dedicated to ensuring a future worth living: networked, digital, electrical.
Shaping the e-dialistic future.
The VDE (VDE Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies) is headquartered in Frankfurt am Main. For more information, visit www.vde.com