Energy Supply of the Future: How Innovation and Climate Change Rebuilds the World

The development of the energy sector today cannot be imagined without close attention to climate change issues. For Ukraine, this topic is becoming more relevant every day, it is not surprising that a separate panel was dedicated to it at the KIEF. Kosatka.Media asked Andreas Kuhlmann, executive director of the German Energy Agency (DENA), one of the KIEF speakers, how to achieve climate neutrality, enter the energy transition and introduce new business models in the energy sector.

 

In a few words tell us about Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena). What projects are you working on now?

dena is Germany’s centre of expertise for energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and intelligent energy systems. As the "Agency for the Applied Energy Transition" we contribute to the attainment of energy and climate policy objectives. Our efforts are dealing with all energy consumption sectors, from buildings to transport and industry, as well as with issues relating to power generation, storage, grids, and digitisation.

dena plays an important role as a liaison between politics and business and assists with the development of markets for sustainable and innovative energy technologies. In our work we are facilitating the transfer of knowledge to other countries, advising on the development of suitable political and economic regulatory frameworks, and pointing out potential applications for individual technologies, as well as entire system solutions for energy supply to change the market conditions and to help creating a market for energy transition.  

Start Up Energy Transition (SET) is a leading international platform supporting innovation in energy transition. Now in its fourth year, SET is implemented with the conviction that a sustainable future is directly linked to innovative business models and political will. At the core, the SET platform is comprised of the SET Award, the annual SET Tech Festival and a growing global network. The SET Award is an international competition for start-ups working on ideas that contribute to the global energy transition.

Among the winners of the SET Award 2019 was, for example, the Swedish company Blixt. Blixt creates solid state miniature circuit breakers which enable numerous smart metering and smart grid solutions. Conventional miniature circuit breakers mechanically protect electrical circuits from overload. The Blixt breaker can also communicate digitally, collect data and measure and control current flows. It combines the functions of a breaker, remote control and smart meter all in one. The increasing electrification in many areas will thus become more efficient, safer and digitally controllable. Other finalists are, for example, working on highly efficient hydrogen generators, organic solar cells, integrating more solar power into the distribution grid, the intelligent management of power grids, electric car charging in real estate environments, or autonomous transport vehicles.

The winners of the SET Award show, together with many applicants, how we can advance energy transition and climate protection with fresh ideas. This is the spirit we need for the future. Our global network is growing. Over the past three years, over 1300 start-ups from 88 countries have taken part in the SET Award.

How would you estimate the level of energy transition in Germany, Europe and around the globe?

Today Germany has the most diversified energy supply system in the world. And energy transition has long since ceased to be something that only concerns energy providers. Over the years, Germany developed a whole new business ecosystem connected to the fight against climate change. We have tons of companies taking part in this, 14 % of global green tech comes from Germany. This creates many new jobs concerning IT, grid, efficiency, renewables etc. It’s a project that interfaces with the most varied sectors and branches of industry. That makes it exciting, but also complex.

When it comes to reaching its ambitious long-term climate goals, Germany still has a lot of work to do. Germany aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent until 2030, compared to 1990 levels. The government has just agreed on a new climate package that is supposed to guarantee that Germany is going to achieve its goals. It contains many important measures, for example a national pricing of CO2 emissions in the building and transport sectors, various incentives to invest in clean technologies and a consistent monitoring of the progress so that additional measures can be installed if needed. 

Germany has already gone a long way and has gained a lot of experience. But no country will succeed on its own, especially not Germany, as it is situated at the heart of Europe. The EU is an important driving force for energy transition and climate protection. It has a lot of influence in setting standards, encouraging cooperation and pushing its members to achieve their goals. The new EU commission has announced to introduce a Green Deal to facilitate the transition to a climate neutral and sustainable economy. This will further strengthen the efforts all over Europe.

Global energy transition is one of the biggest challenges in human history. But it is also an amazing opportunity for combining innovative business and political will to create a sustainable energy solution for the planet to prevent climate change. Therefore, dena is also working together with decision makers all around the world, especially China.

 

What leading technologies are needed to accelerate the transition? What innovations should we expect in the near future?

Energy transition requires an integrated approach and innovation: The energy sectors like industry, transport, and buildings are changing, the number of components is increasing rapidly, borders between the sectors are disappearing, interaction is increasing. There is not one single technology or approach that fits everything. The transformation consists of a multitude of small decisions. At the same time, we need to keep an eye on the big picture. All parts of the energy system must, in the end, be coordinated and transformed into an optimised and intelligent energy system.

There are some technological breakthroughs which can be game changers in this effort: Green Power Fuels, for example, are gaseous and liquid fuels produced synthetically using renewable electricity. They can replace fossil fuels like gas and oil and can be used in many ways: as fuel in traffic as well as for the generation of heat and electricity. This gives them the potential to form the missing link for achieving the climate goals, in addition to energy efficiency and renewable electrification. Digitisation is another important approach. It is changing consumer behavior, technologies and business models, and thus fundamentally economy and society. It is an opportunity to include people and their needs into the transformation of the energy system. The Energiesprong concept for serial building with prefabricated elements could revolutionize the refurbishment market and help to enhance the energy efficiency dramatically. It results in zero emission buildings, lower costs, a short renovation period (around 3 to 10 days), an appealing design and an energy-saving guarantee.

The real challenge is less technological, but political. Energy transition needs a new economic framework. This means, above all, pricing CO2, a comprehensive reform of taxes and levies and “new green deal” for investments in green projects. In Germany, the new climate package contains measures that point in this direction. But in order to achieve the climate goals, we will still need more decisive action.

 

Tell us about the German experience in the process of energy transition. What are the key factors slowing down the process?

The energy transition is causing new, strong forces of change to affect the structures that have developed. The expansion of renewables, especially in the electricity sector, increases the need for flexibility in the system. Therefore, achieving the climate targets requires a holistic, cross-sectoral approach. The main challenge is to coordinate and integrate the various technical facilities, infrastructures and markets from the energy, industry, building and transport sectors into an optimised and intelligent energy system: an integrated energy transition. It is not enough to tackle the challenges from the perspective of the individual sectors.

Achieving climate neutrality by the year 2050 requires not only the substantial expansion of renewable energy and further increasing energy efficiency, but also a fundamental transformation of the entire energy system. This is a challenging process that involves many different political stakeholders, a large spectrum of business branches and the society as a whole. The important thing is to facilitate a constructive dialogue and to concentrate on setting a new economic frame that encourages climate friendly business models, investments, competition and innovation. That will clear the way for bottom up initiatives. It won’t work if we keep on trying to regulate every single technology from top down.

Which of these can Ukraine apply? To what extent Ukraine is attractive as a partner in this field?

In the EU, especially in Germany, the interest for a democratic and economically prosperous Ukraine is very high. Ukraine is one of the most energy-intensive and import-dependent countries in Europe: more than 60 percent of its energy sources come from abroad. The energy intensity exceeds the average in the EU by three to four times. Against this background, Ukraine has become one of the most important countries in which dena is involved in projects.

With the project "Ukraine: Energy Cooperation with Germany", dialogue measures are being implemented to intensify the exchange on energy and energy efficiency with the participation of the most important political and economic stakeholders.

In the dena project "System transformation for an optimized integration of renewable energies in Ukraine" solutions are being developed to improve the integration of renewable energies into the electrical energy system of Ukraine. The prime recipient of the consultation and analysis is the Ukrainian transmission system operator: Ukrenergo.

New business models and concepts developed in the dena project “Municipal Heat Transition” will help to improve the heat supply and promote sustainable development and the transition to renewable energy in Ukrainian municipalities.

Since 2016, 20 model projects have been supported in the project "German-Ukrainian Energy-Efficient Houses", which set standards for the energy-efficient renovation of multi-family houses in Ukraine using funding from the new Energy-Efficiency Fund.

Together with the German government, dena will continue to work on expanding the strategic cooperation between Ukraine and Germany in the energy sector. The energy transition can only succeed if it is viewed as both integrated across different sectors and embedded in a European and international context. An intensive partnership will help to better transfer experiences and technologies from Germany and accelerate the process of energy transition in Ukraine.

 

About the German Energy Agency (dena)

dena is Germany’s centre of expertise for energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and intelligent energy systems. As the agency for the applied energy transition, it helps achieve energy and climate policy objectives by developing solutions and putting them into practice, both nationally and internationally. In order to do this, dena brings partners from politics and business together, across sectors. dena’s shareholders are the Federal Republic of Germany and the KfW Group. More information is available at www.dena.de.

Tags: contracts, legislation, electricity

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