Capacity needs to grow

Andreas Kuhlmann, dena
Andreas Kuhlmann, © dena

Known in English as the German Energy Agency, dena calls itself a “center of expertise for energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and smart energy systems“ and an “agency for implementing the transformation of the energy market.“

Its aim is to support the German government in meeting energy and climate targets. And yet, there is little evidence a transformation is underway. H2-international spoke with Andreas Kuhlmann, dena’s chief executive, about curtailed wind power, energy imports and Germany’s hydrogen strategy.

HOW

H2-international: Mr. Kuhlmann, you have been the chief executive of dena since July 2015. The energy market is changing, but little of it has to do with the planned transformation of the sector. Are we making progress?

Kuhlmann: It is pretty amazing how rapidly things have advanced in recent years. Today, we are taking a much more forceful approach to debating and implementing the market transformation. Of course, the reason for this is that society is demanding better results overall. However, there is another, namely that a growing number of businesses are discovering what this transformation can do for them. New business models are popping up and entire industries are in a state of flux. It is a difficult time for policymakers, but there is only one way forward and the transition period is brimming with opportunity.

We at dena have been focusing since 2015 on identifying the rapidly changing dynamics of this transformation and the global climate change debate. Our main aim was to spur innovation and bring together a wide range of energy carriers with other infrastructures. Our efforts have borne fruit, and this is something I believe we can be proud of.

However, there are many new challenges to take on. For example, now that we are in the second phase of the transformation, we are seeing a slowdown in renewable capacity additions. We cannot let this continue. Last year, when we published an energy systems integration [ESI] study, we estimated the amount of green electricity needed if direct use and retail sales continue to rise unabated. There are also around 52 gigawatts of clean energy capacity for which federal government support will end by 2030, and we are running the risk of losing urgently needed capacity if these plants are not kept operational through power purchase agreements or similar legal instruments. This is particularly true for onshore wind power and, to a lesser extent, for solar PV and bioenergy.

Currently, there is a lot of debate about the practice of wind energy curtailment. What do you think? Should we continue to limit production?

read more in H2-international May 2020

Interview: Sven Geitmann

2 thoughts on “Capacity needs to grow

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