Renewable Energy Sector


Renewable Energy Sector – Germany’s energy transition (Energiewende) has a new word: Sector consolidation. The idea of ​​energy-efficient heating, transport and industry with renewable energy sources instead of fossil fuels will require the development of many new technologies and laws. The jury is still out on which technologies will be best suited to “electrify” the entire economy, as researchers present different solutions. This fact sheet explains the concept of complex integration and the implementation options discussed in Germany.

Sector integration (German: Sektorkopplung) refers to the idea of ​​integrating (integrating) energy-intensive sectors – buildings (heating and cooling), transport and industry – with the power generation sector.

Renewable Energy Sector

Until now, Germany’s energy transition – moving away from nuclear and fossil fuels and building a system that is almost entirely powered by renewables – has happened mainly in the electricity sector, where renewables have a large share of consumption. energy 36%. . Other sectors, especially buildings and transport, are still dependent on fossil fuels, and in Germany’s main energy source, renewables only have a 13 percent share (preliminary data 2017).

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The use of electricity in all energy-related processes, be it transport, heating or construction, will change the energy world as we know it.

Today we use electricity for machines and technical devices such as computers. Industries and homes use electricity for electricity, but to heat their homes, Germans rely heavily on gas and oil heating systems, and nearly all forms of transportation—both cars and trucks—rely on gasoline or diesel. .

Establishing electricity as the standard form of energy in these areas would be a step towards what is sometimes referred to as “an all-electric world” – and could solve many of the current problems of renewable energy production.

Since the main sources of renewable energy in Germany are wind and solar energy, these are not always available when energy is needed, so electricity storage is an important issue. The interconnection of sectors can help here: Part of the energy can be used to heat more water (energy to heat) for heating buildings and thus indirectly electrify the heating sector. During periods of high energy production, electricity can be used to produce hydrogen or syngas (energy to gas). The stored gas can be used to power cars or can be returned to electricity or heat during periods of low sun and wind.

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The German government has chosen to use electricity from renewable sources in various processes. It considers the use of renewable energy sources (directly or indirectly, i.e. power-to-x) as the best way to decarbonise the country’s economy, i.e. to become essentially CO2 neutral by 2050. Other options, such as using minerals – e.g. . biodiesel, wood (pellets) – combustion – only for transportation and heating energy through renewable energy sources, it does not seem how it can be done due to the limited ability to grow a large amount of biomass for fuel production.

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The use of electricity in all energy-intensive sectors raises difficult questions, such as how much energy will be needed if all economies convert to electricity and how the energy will be stored and distributed across the country. Language is the most economical and practical method.

Replace electricity generated from coal, natural gas and nuclear power plants with energy from wind, solar, biomass, hydroelectric or geothermal plants.

Current situation (2016/2017) – Households in Germany are the largest users of heat (44%), followed by industry (38%) and business, trade and services (18%). The houses are mainly heated (not hot water) with fossil fuels (47% natural gas, 24% mineral oil, 17% renewable energy sources, 2% electricity, 9% district heating). Energy for heating is also used in industry and trade, commerce and the service sector. The total share of renewable energy in the heating sector was 12.9 percent in 2017. Energy consumption for cooling processes is negligible – two percent of Germany’s final energy consumption. German families usually do not use air conditioning.

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Target- The government’s target for the housing sector is to reduce heat consumption by 20 percent by 2020 and greenhouse gas emissions by 67 percent by 2030.

Technologies to increase the share of renewable energy in the heating sector include the use of biomass (about two-thirds of renewable energy used to heat homes comes from biomass, e.g. wood pellets), solar thermal and geothermal installations , heat pumps, energy heating installations and energy to gas.

Heat pumps are considered the key technology for integrating the heating sector into the electricity-based energy system. These devices use electricity to circulate hot/cold fluids using heat from outside air, geothermal heat or ground water. The installation of heat pumps must go hand in hand with the insulation of buildings to ensure that heat is reduced and the whole complex becomes more efficient.

Another energy-to-heat solution uses a lot of electricity (e.g. during periods of very high renewable production from the wind or the sun) to heat a lot of water, which is distributed to the district heating network (which already exists in many cities in German).

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Syngas, produced in power-to-gas plants that use electricity to produce hydrogen (electrolysis) and add CO2 to create methane (= natural gas), can also be used in the heating sector instead of fossil natural gas.

Status (2017) – A total of 94.8 percent of the energy used in Germany’s transport sector comes from fossil fuels. Renewables contribute only 5.2 percent (mainly biodiesel).

Target – By 2020, the government wants to reduce final energy in the transport sector by 10 percent (2050: -40%) and greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 by 40 percent.

Key technologies to decongest the transport sector include the use of compressed natural gas (CNG), fossil fuels, batteries, hydrogen or synthetic fuels.

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In addition to the use of natural gas and biofuels, all these technologies will be part of the integration with the energy system, either directly (batteries, charged with electricity) or indirectly, in gas energy (hydrogen or synthetic natural gas). or power to water (liquid synthetic fuels produced in a process similar to power to gas) applications. Aviation, shipping and road freight will be candidates for power-to-x technologies instead of battery-based devices.

In the context of individual mobility, public transport, car sharing, cycling, walking and ultimately automated driving are expected to play an increasing role in the development of a new electric-based mobility concept in Germany.

Status (2016) – Manufacturing processes account for 28 percent of Germany’s final energy consumption. The majority of the industry’s energy needs are met by natural gas (35%), coal (14%) and electricity (32%). Only 4 percent comes from renewable energy sources. Three quarters of the energy required in the industrial sector is used for heat production and the rest for machinery and equipment. 38 percent of all emissions come from processes not related to energy consumption, but for example the production of cement, chalk or steel or other chemical processes.

Target – The government will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the industrial sector by 50 percent by 2030.

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Technologies – The industrial sector needs to make itself more energy efficient and the technologies to be used to achieve this goal depend on specific production and recycling processes.

Depending on whether the industrial process requires gases, fossil fuels, chemicals, heat or energy, all Energy-to-x technologies that are useful in other sectors can be used to properly electrify the business.

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However, the government admits that not all industrial and agricultural processes can be completely abolished. Therefore, if Germany achieves its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050, the remaining 5-20% of its CO2 emissions (10% = 125 million tonnes of CO2 eq) will come from these sectors . To still achieve CO2 neutrality, GHG emissions from industry can be captured and used or stored (CCU/CCS) or offset by CO2 sinks.

A key question researchers are trying to answer in shaping Germany’s economic, social and future energy systems is how much electricity would be needed if all energy-intensive sectors were electrified. The results of these scenarios range from 462 to 3,000 terawatt hours (Twh) per year.

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In 2016, the country’s final electric power was 2542 TWh and the total electric power was 516 TWh. In 2015, heating/cooling and hot water services alone used 748 TWh.

Meanwhile, US energy company ExxonMobil estimates that energy consumption in Germany will fall by around 30 percent and that two-thirds of cars will still run on fossil fuels by 2040, with electric cars making up a fifth of the fleet that year.

In 2010, the government set a target to reduce primary energy consumption by 50 percent and power consumption by 25 percent by 2050 compared to the level of 2008. In light of the demand for electric cars, but also from the sectors of heating and industry – often based on efficiency gains – these energy efficiency targets may need to be revised, Fraunhofer ISI said in a 2018 study.

The amount of electricity required will also depend on the technologies chosen to electrify each sector. The amount of energy lost when converting one form of energy to another (for example in energy-to-gas processes or charging a battery) – known as energy conversion – is unique to each process. Using energy to create hydrogen (electrolysis) and

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