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Shift in German energy supply


Work package 2

Oct 20, 2011

Shift in German energy supply

German is facing a fundamental shift in its energy supply: After the disaster in Fukushima the Parliament decided that by 2020 at the latest the last German nuclear power plant will be closed down while at the same time the ambitious climate change targets for Germany will not be changed.

To allow this shift in German energy supply while fulfilling its international obligations framework conditions for technological innovations to increase the share of renewable energy sources as well as to increase energy and resource efficiency are necessary. Current scenarios show that in just ten years, renewables can cover 40 percent of Germany's electricity supply. An increase of 12 terawatt hours (TWh) per year is considered realistic. (1 terawatt hour = 1 billion kWh).

Bioenergy is an important element in Germany´s energy concept. Due to its status as a leading industrial country within Europe the German shift in energy supply will also positively affect other European countries, including those in the Baltic Sea region. The German Ministry for Environment, Nature Protection and Nuclear Safety is involved as partner in the Bioenergy Promotion project. In this newsletter some of the most important questions regarding the importance of biomass in Germany are raised and answered.

 

What are the Federal government’s most important measures for reaching the mandatory 18 percent share of renewable energies in overall energy consumption? What role will bioenergy play in Germany's energy mix?

The German government will rely on a host of measures and instruments to reach its binding domestic goal of an 18% renewable energy share of overall energy consumption in 2020. The most important measures for the individual sectors are: the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) for the power sector, the Renewable Energies Heat Act (EEWärmeG) and the market incentive programme for renewable energies (MAP) for the heat sector, and the Biofuel Quota Act for transport. These measures are supplemented by a range of programmes and regulations, for instance on grid expansion.

With a share of about 8 percent, bioenergy already plays an important role in Germany's energy mix. This role will increase due to the German government's ambitious expansion goals for renewable energies and the fact that bioenergy can be used in all sectors. Sustainable and efficient generation is an issue with regard to bioenergy utilisation.

What kind of bioenergy utilisation will be of particular importance for the Federal government?  

Bioenergy is to be expanded as an important renewable energy source in all three areas of utilisation, i.e. heat, power and fuels. The Federal government will continue on its path towards sustainable biomass use for environmentally sound and safe energy consumption. This means in particular improving utilisation of domestic bioenergy potentials whilst preventing conflicts of use through increased utilisation of organic residual substances and waste materials, increased energy and land use efficiency through improved management methods, increased utilisation of biomass in CHP plants and increased use of biomethane.

What role will biomass imports and bioenergy sources play for Germany? What role do biomass imports play in the Baltic Sea Region today and what role will they play in the future?

Currently and in future a certain share of bioenergy demand will be covered by importing sustainably produced biomass. Germany's National Action Plan for renewable energy (NREAP) assumes that about 400 PJ of biomass will have to be imported every year to reach the 2020 goals. However, numerous factors make it impossible to give an exact estimate of import volumes and import regions.

What role will biomass imports from non-EU countries such as Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine play in the future?

The role of biomass imports from non-EU countries cannot be precisely estimated at present. This role will mainly depend on timber prices and on the countries' own biomass utilisation potentials. It is likely, however, that other EU countries will also import biomass to cover demand and meet their own renewable energy targets.

What measures is the Federal government taking to ensure the sustainable use of bioenergy?

As early as 2009 the Federal government transposed the sustainability criteria for biofuels and bioliquids into German legislation in line with the EU Directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources. They became effective on 1 January 2011. Sustainability requirements apply mutatis mutandis to biomass produced in Germany and imported biomass. Certification schemes recognised and controlled by the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food in Germany will be introduced for verification purposes.

Do we need binding sustainability criteria for solid and gaseous biomass in the EU?

At European level the German government supports an extension of the EU Directive's renewable energy sustainability criteria to all bioenergy sources. This process will also take adequate account of the effects of indirect land use changes in terms of their greenhouse gas balance.

The Renewable Energy Sources Act is a model for many other countries in the EU and worldwide. Nineteen EU member states have a similar minimum tariff system for power from renewable energy sources. Where do you see a need for optimisation in the bioenergy sector and what modifications is the government planning within the framework of the forthcoming 2012 EEG amendment?

In the biomass sector the EEG amendment process focuses on harmonising and facilitating tariff structures and on reducing the currently excessive promotion of smaller biogas plants. With regard to biogas installations, a flexibility premium will be introduced for demand-oriented feed-in.
For details of the planned amendment to the EEG see the relevant government report:
http://www.bmu.de/erneuerbare_energien/downloads/doc/47476.php .

What measures is the Federal government taking to support regions and local communities when it comes to promoting biomass utilisation?

The Federal government supports a host of projects promoting renewable energy sources and sustainable biomass utilization at local level, such as 100% renewable energy regions and bioenergy regions. Moreover, the government's market incentive programme for renewable energies (MAP) provides grants and loans for heat installations such as pellet stoves and biomass boilers.