Fossil or alternative fuel sources

Germany wants to become independent of fossil fuel sources and switch to green electricity.

Fossil fuel sources or alternative sources?

Fossil fuel sources or green electricity? Germany wants to become independent of fossil fuels. What is the state of electricity supply and gas storage, and how is the expansion of green electricity?

Read also: In Germany, fuel oil and diesel fuel prices are rising due to the drying up of the Rhine.

Fossil fuel sources: based on Germany

To become independent of fossil fuels, the energy must come from somewhere else. A distinction must be made between energy for the electricity and heating market. Climate-friendly technologies such as heat pumps have not yet been widely adopted.

Many private homes are still gas heated. Accordingly, the share of renewable energy sources in the heat supply market is small – about one seventh.

The situation is different in the electricity market. Part of it comes from nuclear power plants: in recent years, this is about one-seventh to eight of the state’s electricity, that is, regardless of the electricity generation of the industry. However, by the end of this year, the remaining nuclear power plants are scheduled to be closed. Green electricity accounts for about half of electricity generation.

Renewable energy comes mainly from wind turbines, followed by solar and biomass. Hydropower plays a secondary role in Germany. Although the share of renewables in electricity generation is steadily increasing, about 40% of the state’s electricity is still generated from coal or gas.

Electricity often comes from wind turbines.  Photo: Vladimka Productions / shutterstock.com

How full are the gas storages?

The gas stores must now be filled up in preparation for winter. To this end, Germany recently decided to set deadlines for certain mobilization levels. The reason is Russia’s threats to close the gas valve.

In addition to this short-term response, reliance on imports of fossil fuels must also be reduced through the expansion of renewables. After all, it is impossible to impose a ban on the wind and the sun.

Wind energy is the subject of much discussion. It currently accounts for about half of green electricity, and last year it accounted for about a quarter of public sector electricity generation.

Fossil fuel sources must be replaced by alternative energy sources.  Photo: Diana Dimitrova / shutterstock.com

However, the expansion of the use of renewable energy sources is slow. Elevation regulations are often debated in federal states such as Bavaria, which makes it difficult to build new wind farms. The rules affected the minimum distance from settlements and the size of wind turbines.

In order to be able to allocate a target of 2% of each federal state’s area for the use of wind energy, Bavaria recently abolished all regulations and allowed exceptions. So far, Schleswig-Holstein has only reached the 2% target, and most other federal states are far from the target.

Fossil fuels: switching to ‘green’ energy is not making progress

Expanding the use of renewable energy, needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65% ​​by 2020, is now behind targets. Until 2022, Germany has achieved only 12.8% of the necessary expansion by the end of March.

The biggest problem with wind power is that winds are very volatile. The fact that the share of green electricity in 2021 was lower than the previous year for the first time in many years is partly due to less windy weather.

In 2021, the share of solar energy in electricity generation was less than that of wind farms. But it fluctuated more predictably and much less. It fluctuates with the rhythm of the day and the seasons, and in winter there is practically no solar energy.

It is difficult to replace fossil fuel sources with alternatives.  Photo: Soonthorn Wongsaita / shutterstock.com

Obstacles to green energy production

Grid expansion has always played an important role, particularly in the distribution of electricity from wind power in northern Germany. Expansion of the network has not yet been planned in light of climate neutrality, says Christophe Kost. He is Group Head of Energy Systems and Energy Economics at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems.

“The real hurdles are rather that it takes a long time to get permits to expand a wind farm,” he says. The approval procedure should be reduced to one year. And in the case of solar, “all obstacles, such as complex rules for electricity tenants, tax issues, and grid connection issues, should be minimized.”

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