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Whoop, whoop – Bavaria is now a forerunner of the Energy Transition! ;-)

image credit: Credits SvW

Uh wait, that was my first thought when I was invited to the meaningful event called ‘Energy Summit Bavaria’. But unfortunately it was not confirmed.

Yesterday, the first day after my holidays, I had the pleasure of attending this event in Munich with many representatives from associations, institutions and relevant stakeholders such as the TSOs and DSOs operating in Bavaria, utilities and many members of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Almost 100 people in total. The event competed with the well-known startup conference Bits & Brezels, which took place at the same time in Munich. Therefore only a few journalists and a handful of young Friday-for-Future activists found their way to the summit.

New and fresh momentum needed

Our Bavarian Minister of State Hubert Aiwanger gave the opening speech, emphasizing that the energy transition in Bavaria needs new and fresh ideas. Overall, the objectives of a safe, affordable and sustainable energy system should be achieved through increased integration of renewable energies and decentralized generation. The process started in December 2018 (as I was only invited to the results meeting, I cannot report on the entire process) and in the last months four working groups have tried to harmonize all concerns and interests to go forward with the energy transition. Working Group 1 (WG1) was working on the extension path for RES, WG2 was in charge of energy efficiency and savings, WG3 of demand and generation flexibility especially energy storage, and WG4 was looking at the grid infrastructure including grid resilience and digitization. Each WG leader presented the results in a short presentation, followed by Q&A sessions with lively discussions.

Where’s the beef?

The energy transition is one of the most complex tasks for each regions, country or continent. And it needs very customized solutions based on the environmental conditions or geographies, weather, resources etc. The results of the working groups have been summarised in a 50-page white paper. The results will also be presented by Mr Aiwanger in mid-November in a kind of ‘energy declaration for Bavaria’. Let me try to conclude the most interesting points with few curious highlights.

Renewable Energy rises

WG1 focus and main task was to review the potential of the renewable energies (mainly onshore wind and PV) and to give an objective on installed capacity for 2030. Hydro power capacity by 2030 was suggested with 15 TWh/a, which would be a slightly increase of 10 %. PV will become the most important source for Bavaria, as it is foreseen with 30 TWh/a vs. 11 TWh/a at the moment. So, this would be nearly an increase of 300 %. The technical potential was guessed to be between 30 and 200 TWh/a, so several participants argued the 30 TWh/a would be not ambitious enough to cover the energy lack after nuclear and coal phase out. In the white paper it was also mentioned, that churches (!), sights and public buildings should get solar roofs. The plan for wind capacity is positive, but not stringent. Mr. Aiwanger wants to build 300 wind turbines in the next three years. The forecast is planning to go from 5 TWh/a up to 16 TWh/a vs. a technical max. potential of 80 - 92 TWha. In Bavaria the so called ‘10H-Rule’ – distance to housings should be 10 times the height to the turbine – is preventing many onshore wind projects. Many participants claimed to reduce or delete this rule to enable more wind capacity. Otherwise further wind projects are very unlikely. Overall those values are more pragmatic ‘can-be-reached’ values rather than ‘let’s-do-it’.

Big Brother’s watching your carbon footprint

Now my favorite part of the day. WG2 worked on energy efficiency and energy savings especially in mobility and buildings. Several suggestions were categorized into the following three points such as 1) financial incentives and economic rentability improvement, 2) advanced and improved energy consulting services and 3) sharpening and control of regulatory laws. The most special idea was a personal ‘CO2-account’ for every private person to evaluate the carbon footprint. Think about it. Interesting idea, but only possible in China maybe. Overall the planned actions were not sufficient to reach the objectives for Bavaria (as part from Germany) derived from Paris Climate Goals 2015. For this reason, new technologies and innovations need to be supported.

Energy storage makes the energy transition a success

WG3 was covering several topics for demand and generation flexibility. First of all, it was recommended that the electricity price should decreased to the lowest price allowed in the EU to reduce the distortion of the actual cost effects due to taxes, grid fees and more. Second point was the reform of the CO2-taxation with  European coordination. On the distribution grid it needs more incentives for the commercialization of decentralized energy sources especially for Post-EEG-Systems (EEG is the German FIT). The Digitization grid assets, generation and distribution units as well as energy storage systems will allow an intelligent and efficient monitoring and control. This is, what we called ‘Smart Grid’ already ten years ago. Energy Storage was not really discussed in detail, but it had its own chapter and it was agreed, that it will be the most important link to make the energy transition a success. I learned also that the figures for the energy stats in Bavaria are always two years late, meaning the actual planning is based on figures of 2016. PtX and Demand Side Management were reviewed as flexibility options in this chapter, but there are no pilot projects yet.

Capacity reserves needed to ensure grid stability

Finally the WG4 was focused on the grid infrastructure, based on the political and strategic developments in Germany. The time horizon is 2030 and the energy reliability is the highest priority, for Bavaria it should be secured with 1,2 GW additional generation capacity. Further evaluations on the security of supply should be considered. Intelligent concepts and technologies should become an alternative to gigantic HVDC transmission lines. Further initiatives of DSOs with local solutions are welcome and will be supported.

My overall conclusion is, that many topics were discussed during this day and that many parties need to be harmonized. Democracy sounds good on paper but is not the biggest fun part of my job, especially when it comes to local governments and regulators. It was a step further in the process for the Bavarian Energy Transition, now we need to see, what will come on to the agenda of the Bavarian government and transferred into concrete actions. I hope that our innovative and sustainable energy storage technology can support the further process.

Please drop a comment, if this was interesting to read, too short or too long.

My next trip will be to ESNA in San Diego. See you there!

Stefan von Westberg's picture

Thank Stefan for the Post!

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 2, 2019 1:49 pm GMT

Terrific overview, Stefan, thanks for sharing and please keep them coming-- looking forward to hearing what you get out of ENSA in San Diego.

My overall conclusion is, that many topics were discussed during this day and that many parties need to be harmonized. Democracy sounds good on paper but is not the biggest fun part of my job, especially when it comes to local governments and regulators.

With this being your big takeaway, I'm wondering if you can opine on a broader scale about how useful these types of conferences are to pushing the needed change. Are the 'deliverables,' if you will, of these energy conferences beneficial towards actually creating these changes? Or are they more of ideas being shared in principle but action being just as hard to take in actuality afterwards?

Isuru Seneviratne's picture
Isuru Seneviratne on Oct 4, 2019 1:28 pm GMT

This is a (long but) great article Germany's disastrous Energiewende project.

Germany's Federal Court of Auditors is even more forthright about the failures. The shift to renewables, the federal auditors say, has cost at least 160 billion euros in the last five years. Meanwhile, the expenditures "are in extreme disproportion to the results," Federal Court of Auditors President Kay Scheller said last fall, although his assessment went largely unheard in the political arena. Scheller is even concerned that voters could soon lose all faith in the government because of this massive failure.

Germany sabotaged their own efforts in two main ways, in my opinion.

1) killing nuclear before killing coal (or oil, or gas)

2) not rewarding its' citizens for their carbon virtuousness, underpinned by steadily rising price on carbon price. 

"In Sweden -- the Energiewende world champion, according to the International Energy Agency -- a high CO2 tax, of almost 120 euros per ton, is driving people and companies to pay more attention to how they heat, drive and do business. The tax was first introduced there in 1991. In Germany, the debate has only just begun."

Looks like regular old partisan misalignment is playing a big part as well:


"Politicians like former Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin, a Green Party politician who was part of the cabinet of the center-left Social Democratic (SPD) Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, were in favor of a radical shift, no matter what the cost. Others, like the SPD Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel and his successor Peter Altmaier, from Merkel's center-right Christian Democrats (CDU), were more concerned about German industry and job numbers. Neither side trusted the other and a stalemate ensued. Progress halted."

Most of Germany's Energiewende seems to have been driven by huge subsidies courtousy of the rate-payers, not a market-driven systemic transition. Germans pay 1.7x per kWh vs. France despite their much dirtier grid.

"The state has redistributed gigantic sums of money, with the EEG directing more than 25 billion euros each year to the operators of renewable energy facilities. But without the subsidies, operating wind turbines and solar parks will hardly be worth it anymore. As is so often the case with such subsidies: They trigger an artificial boom that burns fast and leaves nothing but scorched earth in their wake."


The authors point out the problems with the emissions trading system and promotes carbon taxes that are largely returned to citizens:


"Intelligent systems are important. But incentives for individuals and companies to act in environmentally friendly ways are even more important. And that's where price matters. The more expensive the production of CO2, the more worthwhile it becomes to invest in climate-friendly technology."


"Berlin policymakers are currently leaning toward a model like the one used in Switzerland, in which a large portion of the CO2 tax revenues is sent back to citizens as compensation for the fact that climate-neutral behavior can be expensive and requires sacrifice. That's the core lesson of more than two decades of the Energiewende: Policymakers must ensure that people are on board. Voters must begin to understand what the transformation means for them and that it is vital that they change their behavior."

Stefan von Westberg's picture
Stefan von Westberg on Oct 7, 2019 7:16 am GMT

Thank you Matt. Thank you Isuru.
I fully agree with 1) and 2) above. The policy of consensus is not helping for an economic and sustainable energy transition. Here I would prefer a system like in Canada, where real domain experts are leading the ressorts of politics. If you have a real plan with a strategy, it is much easier to get the people on board.

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