Germany has long been considered a leader in renewable energy – a model for others to follow its subsidies for wind and solar power. Caroline Bayley from the BBC explores the country’s energy transition trend.
• She visits Industrial Ruhr region with its enormous open cast mine, as well as Steinfurt, a rural area with community renewable energy schemes. And finally, a former coal town of Bottrop which is undergoing its own energy transition:
• Bayley observes the open cast mine and reflects on Germany’s target to end coal by 2038 (30% of energy is supplied by coal). The mine’s owner, RWE, faces ongoing protests and there are demands for the mine to close earlier.
• According to RWE, phasing out conventional means of energy supply is difficult due to variability in renewable energy and the phasing out of nuclear.
• A lack of research and development is a major hurdle. Need for grid enlargements and giant batteries as storage facilities is the way towards clean electric future.
• She visits a town called Bottrop where locals have taken up responsibility and invested in renewable energy (wind turbines). The city has now become a blueprint for others and recognised by the title as “Innovation City”.
Why does this matter?
• Germany’s current targets of coal reduction haven’t been achieved but the country is attempting to achieve the 55% reduction in by 2030.
• A recent parliamentary ruling states new wind turbines must be built at least 1000 km from a built-up area. A built-up area can be as small as 5 houses.
• The renewable sector is facing a significant slowdown. In 2016 over 4k wind turbines were built, last year around 500 wind turbines.
• Germany’s energy policy will also be hugely important for the auto industry.
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