WWF Energy Report: irreversibly renewable? | tagesschau.de

Status: 11.01.2022 4:00 p.m.

More and more wind and solar plants are being built around the world, conventional power plants are falling behind. The environmental protection organization WWF sees great progress in the global energy transition – but criticizes Germany.

By Andre Kartschall, rbb

It is extremely optimistic news that the WWF announces: the energy transition is irreversibly underway – and it is making great strides worldwide. This is the conclusion of the environmental protection organization in its report “Megatrends of the global energy transition II”. There the authors certify the world that they have recognized man-made global warming as a serious problem.

Andre Kartschall

But that does not mean that the states will also achieve the climate protection goals they have set themselves. Because although there is a trend reversal towards energy generation using wind, sun and hydropower, new coal-fired power plants are still burdening the CO2 balance.

WWF report on the “megatrends” of the energy transition

Andre Kartschall, RBB, daily news 12:00 p.m., 11.1.2022

Boost for electricity from wind and sun

Compared to 2015, when the first WWF report was published, the world of today – and tomorrow – is different. Within just six years, the market share for new projects in the energy market has shifted massively, especially in favor of wind and sun. “The picture has changed significantly today. Today, over 80 percent of the power plant capacity installed worldwide is renewable,” sums up Viviane Raddatz, head of climate protection and energy policy at WWF.

But it is still not going fast enough. The WWF warns that limiting global warming to 1.5 or two degrees is hardly feasible, even at the accelerated pace. Last year it was already 1.2 degrees warmer on earth than before the beginning of the industrial age.

“Things take way too long”

The WWF is particularly hard on the self-proclaimed pioneer Germany. Kerstin Andreae, General Manager at the Federal Association of Energy and Water Management BDEW, complains: There is no lack of creative drive, there is simply a lack of feasibility. There are obstacles everywhere: “There is the question of the skilled workers, the availability of space, the time frame – things take far too long. There is the material where we are already experiencing delivery bottlenecks today.”

The legal requirements of the past few years would have stalled expansion in Germany. In the meantime, other states, including those within the EU, have passed by. In fact, wind turbines with a total output of less than 2000 megawatts were installed nationwide in 2020 – in 2017 it was more than 6000.

Criticism of the nuclear power trend

Germany’s pioneering status in the energy transition is also being called into question on another topic. A growing number of states are relying – again – on nuclear power for the energy transition. Nuclear power plants have a CO2 balance that is comparable to wind energy and reliably deliver electricity, regardless of whether the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. China, for example, plans to build 150 new reactors within 15 years – three times as many as are already in operation.

Other countries that already have reactors are building new nuclear power plants, extending operating times or putting reactors back on the grid. Nuclear power, which has long been declared dead, is experiencing a resurrection around ten years after the Fukushima disaster. For Germany that would be out of the question, according to the WWF. And nuclear power will not be the solution internationally either, they are certain. The report says: “New reactor buildings outside of the People’s Republic of China remain absolute exceptions.”

Hydrogen technology as hope

In order to actually be able to operate the electricity grid using renewables in the not too distant future, there is still a lack of storage facilities. In the event of a “dark doldrums”, especially in the dark, cold months, a network based on wind and solar power could fail. The WWF says that digitalization can be controlled much more efficiently.

The storage technology cited is hydrogen, which is generated from green electricity using the “power-to-gas” process, for example – and which is later burned in power plants, virtually CO2-free. But the technology is expensive. The WWF therefore sees only limited scope for widespread use. The BDEW, on the other hand, is more optimistic. As you can see in the current report, developments are difficult to forecast. It is therefore quite conceivable that hydrogen will experience a similar dynamic growth as in the recent past wind and solar energy.


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