Solar & wind are the future and ‘there is no going back’, says German energy minister

Germany’s Rainer Bakke – the minister responsible for the EU nation’s ambitious Energiewende, or energy transition, from coal and nuclear to renewable energy – says solar and wind energy have won the technology race.

In an interview with RenewEconomy in Abu Dhabi, special minister of state Baake said the task now for Germany was to focus on integration, “digitising” the electricity grid, and on storage, efficiency, and other energy uses such as transport and building and industrial heat.

Baake, attending the International Renewable Energy Agency annual summit, said renewable energies were becoming cheaper and cheaper. “They are taking over,” he said.

“So far nobody else has supplied the industrial economy with secure and price-effective electricity from solar panels and wind turbines. I am confident we can succeed and that we will have a superior energy system.”

Germany created its renewable energy support scheme in 2000, and Baake says the purpose has been about testing technologies.

“So there are two clear winners, and they are wind and solar,” Baake said. “We have learned how to produce electricity with wind and large-scale solar at the same cost level as new coal or gas generators.

“The question about the Energiewende is not a question about technology anymore. We have them.

“It is not a question about costs, because these new technologies produce at same costs as the last ones (technologies). And, I should point out, they are much cheaper than nuclear.

“The question now is whether we will be able to reinvent the power system so it can operate efficiently at reasonable cost and security with growing penetration of wind and solar.

“We want this Energiewende to be economically efficient – not just an ecological success story, also an economic success story.

Baake says it is increasingly clear that big business is getting on board. The country’s two biggest utilities, RWE and E.ON, have chosen to split their businesses, and separate the “old energy world” from the new one.

“The business community has understood that new business models have emerged and you have to be in it. There is no going back,” he said.

© 2015 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson