SRU: 100% Renewable Electricity Possible by 2050, Solar Subsidies Should be Capped

The Advisory Committee on Environmental Issues to the German Parliament (Sachverständigenrat für Umweltfragen – SRU) today submitted its special report on ways to achieve a 100% renewable electricity supply to Federal Environment Minister Röttgen. 100% renewable electricity generation is possible by 2050. Subsidies for new PV systems should be capped.

Last May, SRU presented a report, according to which a 100% renewable, yet affordable energy supply was possible in Germany by 2050. The new 663 page expert opinion looks at 8 scenarios for 100% renewable electricity generation. It contains suggestions for an amendment of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), so as to obtain a cost-efficient renewable energy portfolio by 2050.

SRU member Prof. Dr. Karin Holm-Müller, an economist, called the EEG a success story, which was copied by other countries. Its supporting pillars, the obligation of grid operators to purchase renewable energy (Einspeisevorrang) and the fixed feed-in tariffs, should continue to apply in the future. However, there was a need to amend feed-in tariff to curb costs, Mrs Holm-Müller said. Feed-in tariffs for the rapidly growing but relatively expensive solar electricity should be reduced and capped, SRU demanded.

Solar tariffs were much too high, the report says. Despite cuts in the past, the industry was growing, and expansion forecasts for 2010 exceeded estimates. This expansion was not cost-efficient. There was still a great cost savings potential in the PV market. Not only did the high PV costs endanger consumer acceptance of the EEG system as a whole, but expenses for solar electricity also limited funds for producing renewable energy from more cost-efficient sources.

Therefore, SRU calls for a cap on new PV capacities. Once the annual cap is reached, funding is suspended until next year.

SRU’s recommendations follow shortly after the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU) and the solar industry association BSW Solar jointly presented a proposal of solar feed-in tariffs cuts of up to 15% on 1 July and 1 September 2011. The proposal does not contain a hard cap on solar expansion, which has been strictly opposed by the industry association BSW Solar. The magazine Spiegel therefore said the SRU proposal challenged Minister Röttgen. Thomas Bareiß, energy spokesman of the Christian Democratic Party in the Bundestag, a fellow-party member of Minister Röttgen, has repeatedly called a cap the ultima ratio. In October last year, he told Handelsblatt he favoured a cap of 2,000 MWp.

While the SRU report stresses that it was up to the government where exactly it wanted to set the cap, Financial Times Deutschland said SRU member Prof. Olav Hohmeyer spoke out in favour of a 1,000 MWp cap in an article to be published by the newspaper Die Zeit on Thursday. The economist, who lectures at the university of Flensburg, said he believed that PV would only play a “miniscule role” in the renewable energy supply of the future.

SRU does not consider the extension of the operation times of the German nuclear power stations necessary. Furthermore, it does not consider the construction of new coal-fired power plants using CCS technology necessary.

The report also focuses on ways to accelerate the necessary national and international grid expansion, as well as efforts to link the national transformation process with the European energy and climate policy.

SRU also suggests to accelerate grid expansion by drawing up a national plan for transmission networks until 2030 (Bundesfachplan Stromübertragungsnetz 2030). Besides, the committee recommends to render investments in networks more attractive and to hold tender procedures for important power lines. Also, the great storage potential that exists in Norway with its hydro power plants, should be made accessible, SRU says. To this end the German government should strive for a close cooperation with Norway, SRU recommends.

SRU believes that it is of great importance that the national transitition process towards a renewable energy supply is supplemented by a European climate and energy policy, in particular an expansion of the European transmission networks and a “European Renewable Energy Roadmap until 2030”.

Source: Advisory Committee on Environmental Issues to the German Parliament, Financial Times Deutschland, Solarserver, Spiegel

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1 Response to “SRU: 100% Renewable Electricity Possible by 2050, Solar Subsidies Should be Capped”

  • 100% electricity perhaps but 100% energy supply is impossible for Germany and for Europe.

    The problem is the oil peak and CO2; and nuclear is the best and the cheapest way for an independant european energy supply without carbon.

    Do you really believe SRU ? The SRU council has writen in the 700 TWh scenario, that Germany can produce 120 TWh electricity /year. It’s twice impossible : the geothermal flux is only 230 TWh/year on all Germany. It’s impossible to convert 230 TWh geothermal heat in 120 TWh electricity.

    PV gives 50gCO2/kWh, Windkraft 15, nuclear only 5 and less with reactors as Phenix, Superphenix or BN-600.

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