Are renewable sources not equal to conventional sources?
Renewable energies come from energy sources that are not used up during energy generation because, unlike fossil energy sources, they are constantly being renewed. Renewable energy sources include solar radiation, wind energy, hydropower, biomass, ocean tides and geothermal energy. This not only generates electricity, but also generates hot water and heating.
Ecological comparison to conventional energy generation
Advantages: Compared to fossil fuels from crude oil, natural gas, lignite and hard coal, renewable energies are considered to be resource-efficient. Since there are either no greenhouse gas emissions or at least only as much carbon dioxide is released as a plant has previously bound, renewable energies are classified as climate-neutral.
In addition, there are no risks to be feared when generating renewable energies, as is the case with nuclear power generation, and there are no residues such as nuclear waste, which for a long time after the generation of electricity is at risk of radioactive radiation entering the environment.
Disadvantage: Renewable energies themselves do not consume themselves, but plant construction, for example the production of photovoltaic systems, hydropower plants or wind turbines, is very resource-intensive: building materials such as cement and sand are required, but also metals such as aluminum, iron and copper . This leads to a shift in resource consumption. The expansion of renewable energies reduces our dependence on oil and other fossil fuels, but we are heading towards an enormous consumption of natural raw materials.
Because the energy density of regenerative energies is lower than that of conventional energy sources, their land consumption is also significantly greater. According to the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research, for example, lignite extraction for a power plant and the generation of comparable amounts of electricity requires 50 to 500 times less space than wind parks, open-air photovoltaic systems or the cultivation of energy crops for bioenergy.
In terms of security of supply, renewable energies are more complicated to handle than conventional ones because they do not always deliver electricity as required and are more difficult to control.
The Renewable Energy Sources Act
On April 1, 2000, the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) replaced the Electricity Feed Act, which had been in force since 1991, and has been constantly updated since then and supplemented by additional goals.
According to Section 1 (1) EEG, the EEG pursues the purpose “in the interests of climate and environmental protection
- to enable sustainable development of the energy supply,
- to reduce the economic costs of energy supply by including long-term external effects,
- to conserve fossil energy resources and
- to promote the further development of technologies for generating electricity from renewable sources. "
In addition, it is stipulated that electricity generated from renewable sources must be purchased from the network operators. It is therefore preferentially fed into the power grid over electricity from other sources at fixed tariff rates per kilowatt hour. Once a green electricity system has been commissioned, the guaranteed remuneration is paid over a period of 20 years. The purpose of the EEG is to provide operators of wind power, photovoltaic and biogas plants with calculable income that is above the market price in order to offer investment incentives. However, since lower generation costs are to be expected as a result of further technical developments, the remuneration for newly commissioned plants will be reduced accordingly.
In 2012, the optional direct marketing with a market premium was introduced as an important new element. It replaces the fixed remuneration with a surcharge based on the generation costs on the average monthly electricity exchange price. Direct marketing is compulsory for some systems and, in addition, successive auctions are to be used to determine the market premium. There is also a management bonus to cover marketing costs. This is intended to give the plant operators an incentive to market their electricity themselves. By increasing the generation capacity of your plant, you can generate higher yields in times of high electricity prices.
The subsidization of the EEG is passed on to the electricity consumers. This surcharge has risen sharply since the turn of the millennium. Originally it was 0.2 cents per kilowatt hour - in 2016 it was 6.24 cents.
Companies are also not excluded from payment. While small and medium-sized companies pay the same EEG surcharge as private consumers, discounts apply to large industrial customers. The aim of this equalization scheme is to avoid an excessive burden on electricity-intensive companies in the manufacturing sector and thus to preserve their international competitiveness and the jobs associated with them. Since 2015, however, the exceptions only apply to certain industries. In addition, the discounts are significantly lower.
The energy turnaround decided by the federal government in 2011 provides for the withdrawal from energy generation through nuclear power. The last nuclear reactor should go offline by 2022. The share of renewable energies in gross electricity consumption is to be increased to 80 percent by 2050. The rest should be covered by fossil fuels.
The greatest challenge in the area-wide power supply from regenerative energies is the storage of the irregularly accumulating energy and the nationwide expansion of a power grid, which for example forwards the electricity from the wind power generated mainly in northern Germany to the south.
Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy: Information portal on renewable energies
(As of 2016)
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