The official announcement of the Federal Ministry of Economics (BMWi) is that the demand for electricity in Germany will remain constant until 2030. Chancellor Angela Merkel has now put a question mark on this thesis. “We urgently need a forecast for the electricity demand up to 2030,” demanded the CDU politician on Tuesday at the Industry Day of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) in Berlin.
More line construction needed
When recalculating, one should take into account, for example, what e-mobility and the Internet of Things would bring with them with much greater computing and server capacities, explained Merkel. What is needed is “more pipeline construction”, which also has to go faster. It should also be clarified which sources for the electricity would then be available. At the moment there are “considerable difficulties in getting wind energy through on land”. Apparently more offshore systems are required here. Using gas as a bridging technology remains “of crucial importance” at the same time.
In mid-July, the EU Commission will launch a new climate package, the Chancellor warned. It is also about new standards for cars and the “future of chemistry”. A few months before the general election, the federal government tried to “develop a consistent position” on this. When it comes to climate protection, Germany should also rely on “like-minded countries in the world” with the same instruments, for example through a new transatlantic economic initiative. However, the dialogue with China should also be maintained here.
“We will have to spend gigantic sums in the next few years,” predicted Merkel in relation to the state and the economy. This applies, for example, to microchip production, which is currently 40 percent more expensive in Europe than in Asia. She also named battery cell production, hydrogen, quantum technology, artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing as other areas. Without “important projects of common European interest” (IPCEI) as a funding umbrella, it would hardly work in these areas. In this country it was not so easy to find an industrial consortium to build a quantum computer. What is needed are “forms of cooperation that have not existed in this dimension in recent years”.
Criticism from the Vice Chancellor
Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz accused the BMWi of a “current lie”. E-cars, heat pumps and industrial processes require “a lot more electricity”. The industry wants “climate-neutral production, but for that it needs electricity from wind and sun”. An additional 100 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity are expected to be required by 2030. This means that consumption will grow annually by the amount that a city like Hamburg currently uses per annum. The current planning was so “neither for the generation of electricity nor for the line construction”.
The SPD chancellor candidate described the expansion of wind and green electricity as the “most important industrial policy task of our time”. He announced a rapid and comprehensive reform of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), with the aim of increasing the expansion targets and abolishing the EEG surcharge by 2025. “That is 25 billion euros,” the finance minister illustrated the associated revenue shortfall. These would have to be via the CO2-Price and other funds are offset. His goal is also to reduce the industrial electricity price from currently around 17 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) to four cents. The grand coalition has already decided to limit the EEG surcharge for 2023 and 2024 to a maximum of 5 cents per KWh.
“We have a huge infrastructure problem,” Scholz also admitted. A decision still has to be made as to “which IT, which clouds we work with” and “whether we can do that at all in Europe”. There is also no viable business model for the charging infrastructure on the roadside. Germany should make the lead market for electrolysis, so that the hydrogen targets would also have to be adjusted.
Energy transition as a German invention
Whoever “fully and completely reaches a climate-neutral market” first in the international race will also be one step ahead in terms of social and economic policy, “emphasized the Greens’ candidate for Chancellor Annalena Baerbock. Germany “actually invented the energy transition”, but now the USA and China are also advancing. It is no longer just about economic advantages, but also about a competition “between liberal democracies and authoritarian regimes” and the future viability of the welfare state Germany.
The design for the markets for energy and hydrogen as well as for digitization is currently too narrow, a lead vest is lacing the entrepreneurs, complained the Greens boss. AI, microchips and battery technologies are critical products that have to be manufactured in Germany and Europe. The Greens had therefore proposed a pact between industry and politics to set standards and support the transformation path. However, the state must also specify the line and decide, for example, that hydrogen cannot be used in cars because capacities are limited. Here, for example, steel production and air transport should have priority.
Willingness of citizens to “disclose data”
Society has become too “used to the Corona method,” complained the CDU and CSU chancellor candidate Armin Laschet. Everything was regulated down to the last detail during the pandemic, from the obligation to work from home to wearing a mask. Now it needs “escape packages” to take away the bureaucracy. This also applies to the infrastructure of the railways, for example, which is becoming much faster and needs to be expanded. The administration urgently needs to be digitized, for which the competencies in the federal government should be bundled. The citizens also need to be willing “to recognize their digital identity and disclose data”.
“We have too many gray areas in data protection”, what is legally and technically feasible is often unclear, criticized the head of Microsoft Germany, Marianne Janik. Overall, there are enough and important initiatives in the digital sector such as the European cloud project Gaia-X, but this must now also be implemented. At the same time she was self-critical: “We enjoyed proprietary systems, but the future is already partly open source.”
As far as the electricity demand is concerned, the current federal government is walking a dream path, confirmed BASF boss Martin Brudermüller. The new one must quickly focus on the expansion of renewables, for example in the North Sea. The EEG “did a great job”, but is now a brake on innovation. The state has to submit to infrastructures such as power cups and 5G.
The location conditions for the infrastructure run and the expansion of green electricity “are not keeping up”, stated the President of the Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), Hildegard Müller. Unlike Baerbock, however, she considered an “ambitious e-fuels strategy” for the remaining combustion engines to be important. When it comes to wind power bearings, nothing works without special steel, added Schaeffler’s head of equipment, Klaus Rosenfeld. If this becomes more expensive, “the expansion of wind power will no longer work”. .