This could reduce the land area available for onshore wind by between 20% and 50%, according to Umweltbundesamt (UBA), Germany’s environment agency.
Offshore, the climate package would increase the 2030 wind target to 20GW, from 15GW, compared with 6.7GW at present. However, this target is dependent on agreement with transmission system operators, who have been struggling to overcome local opposition to new high-voltage lines to carry power from the North Sea to demand centers in southern Germany.
One possible medium-term solution to the transmission problem could be the use of surplus power for producing hydrogen or methane in plants close to the offshore wind farms, effectively ‘storing’ excess generation. Among other initiatives, the HYPOS Consortium is undertaking a two-year R&D project to explore the technical feasibility of storing hydrogen in underground caverns, a large number of which are located in northern Germany.
The picture for solar is considerably sunnier. In the auction in October, 648MW of bids were tendered for 150MW of capacity, with contracts awarded at an average price of €45.90/MWh, compared with €54.70/MWh at the last auction.
In addition, subsidy-free projects are coming forward, such as EnBW’s 180MW array in Brandenburg, which will be Germany’s largest solar farm. On the demand side, large industrials are increasingly entering into corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs). Mercedes-Benz has signed Germany’s first such PPA as part of its plans to supply all of its plants in the country with carbon-neutral energy by 2022. The carmaker will buy wind power, from 46MW of wind-power capacity, from six wind farms in Lower Saxony and Bremen.
Improvements in solar technology also promise to boost installation. As systems become lighter, retailers are showing greater interest in installing rooftop systems. They are also eyeing the installation of electric vehicle charging stations, in a bid to encourage shoppers to stay longer and spend more.
Germany’s climate strategy is aiming for 7 million–10 million electric vehicles by the end of 2030. This is to be delivered through an exemption from car tax until 2030 and an additional €6,000 bonus for each new electric vehicle bought. Company electric cars will also be subject to lower rates of tax. In addition, the Government is to address the current lack of charging stations, with plans for one million to be installed by 2030.