In its comments on the Federal Government’s discussion paper, ‘Strom 2030’ (‘Electricity 2030’), the Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena) – the German Energy Agency – calls for a revision of electricity savings targets, and for a technologically impartial approach to the desired goal of linking the electricity sector with the heating, transport and industrial sectors. With the use of electricity from renewable energy sources on the increase in all sectors, the question once again arises: how much electricity will be needed in the future? For this reason, says dena, it is important to intensify our efforts to increase energy efficiency. In considering savings targets, a distinction needs to be drawn between the uses of electricity up to now, and uses which will arise as a result of the electrification of additional sectors. Besides this, it is most important that we improve the general framework for storage facilities and flexibility mechanisms.
Andreas Kuhlmann, dena’s Chief Executive, commented, ‘We must always consider energy efficiency and the linking of sectors together. In the future, electricity will play a bigger role in all sectors – that’s obvious. But electricity is expensive and needs an efficient infrastructure, so that we can utilise balancing effects on a Europe-wide basis and cope with periods when there’s less renewable energy. For this reason, it’s all the more important to ensure that we keep energy needs to a minimum. ‘Efficiency first’ is rule no. 1 – the discussion paper’s quite right to point that out. What that means in concrete terms for the electricity sector and the energy transition is something we need to have an exhaustive debate about.’
Key factors in the future electricity supply
According to dena’s estimates, increasing electrification will also place particular demands on the electricity infrastructure, the flexibility of electricity consumers and the storage of energy. When developing an appropriate supply system, it is important to ensure that all technologies compete on a level playing field. For example, in reducing emissions in other sectors we should not only consider electricity from renewable energy sources, but also renewable gas and biofuels, which can be used in vehicles, in heating or in efficient combined heat and power generation systems.
Moreover, in evaluating sector-linking technologies, it is not only the level of efficiency that should be considered. Their significance for the energy system is also an important factor. For example, power to gas – producing methane with the aid of renewable electricity – has demonstrated a relatively low degree of efficiency so far, but affords valuable potential for storing energy.
In dena’s view, there is still a lot to be done in terms of constructing storage facilities and improving flexibility in the electricity system. The discussion paper presupposes that storage facilities will be constructed, but the measures needed to achieve this in practice are lacking. The legislative processes concluded recently have still not created an adequate general framework.
Electricity 2030 discussion process
The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has published the Electricity 2030 discussion paper in order to initiate a broad discussion on the general framework for future electricity supplies. The paper outlines twelve long-term trends in the electricity sector and derives objectives from these. It was possible to submit comments up to the end of October.