Germany’s green power transition holds lessons for india (energy feature) (lead) power generation definition

Learning how Germany’s citizen-owned, highly-decentralised energy transition, named Energiewende, is working to decarbonise the economy, could be most useful for India, the third-biggest solar installer after China and the US, and aiming to increase its solar capacity to 100 GW by 2022.

"Energiewende means spending our money in regional business circles rather than sustaining the profit of international oil giants," Heck, who is the Managing Director with the Institute for Applied Material Flow Management in Trier University of Applied Sciences, told IANS.

Engaging people even in small cooperatives has become a mass movement to favour energy transition from fossils to renewable sources despite rising electricity prices, protests against wind parks and the rising renewables surcharge resulting from Germany’s expensive first mover status.

Renewable energy in India is now cheaper than even domestic thermal power, albeit with the added complexities for the grid of variable generation supply, Director of energy finance studies of the US-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis Tim Buckley told IANS.

"We made our dream come true with the linking of a photovoltaic system on the roof of the community hall with a battery storage system to supply the LED streetlights in the whole village," Horn Mayor Volker Harter told IANS during a recent visit to citizen-owned renewable energy installations in the Hunsruck region in Rhineland-Palatinate.

Rhineland-Palatinate State Energy Agency Executive Director Thomas Pensel said the state is the front-runner in fulfilling its commitment under the Paris Climate Change Agreement through a full-scale social and economic transformation by cutting greenhouse gas emissions with ending fossil fuels’ use.

Prominent among them is the SOLIX cooperative based in the municipality of Warrstadt, which, in 2007 and 2010, began installing solar panels on the roofs of municipal buildings. Their success encouraged Petra Gruner-Bauer and seven others to establish SOLIX, which by 2016, had 115 individual members as well as four regional shareholders, comprising three local companies.

Mainz-based UrStrom, founded in 2010, is an example for the potential of citizen-owned renewable energy generation in cities and suburbs. The cooperative, with 200 members, operates 11 photovoltaic systems mounted on the roofs of public and industrial buildings, producing 100 percent renewable electricity and supplying it to nearly 100 households at a competitive price.

Small investors are given an incentive through feed-in tariffs for new renewable power installations. Feed-in tariff means an owner of renewable energy installations is guaranteed an above-market price per kilowatt-hour for the power they feed into the grid over a period of 20 years.

In 2016, private citizens owned 31.5 percent of all installed renewable power capacity, making them the most important investors in the sector ahead of energy companies (15.7 per cent), developers (14.4 per cent), farmers (10.5 percent) and funds/banks (13.4 percent).

India has reached 20 GW cumulative solar capacity, achieving the milestone four years ahead of the 2022 target originally set in the National Solar Mission in 2009. In 2015, the target for the same year, 2022, was raised to 100 GW. In 2017, its solar installations at 9,629 MW was more than double the 4,313 MW installed in 2016.

The 2018 National Electricity Plan sets India on a similarly ambitious trajectory of a staggering 275 gigawatts of renewables by 2027, but is yet to really tap into the private individuals sector to best deliver (and fund) a rapid roll-out of this distributed energy solution that has proven so successful in Germany, added Buckley.