A few days ago I was visiting various clean energy projects developed with great success in Germany. Apart from their economic sustainability, the interesting thing about these developments is that they are done in a macro framework designed to move the country towards an efficient use of environmentally sustainable sources, ie sources of clean energy. Let’s look at this experience as a qualitative, not quantitative (due to the economy size differences) reference to emulate in our countries
In Germany, the adoption of more efficient renewable and clean energy (photovoltaic, wind etc) as a national objective dates from September 2010. Germany seeks to have a feasible supply of economically viable and environmentally friendly energy by 2050, with the gradual replacement of coal and nuclear energy sources.
Concrete evidence that this goal is not for show will be when it is formally expressed on a measurable graph with baseline and milestones and endpoints in black and white by 2050. Germany plans to go from the current 21517MW power generated by nuclear plants to 8539MW in 2020, turning the last reactor off in 2022. By 2020, they aim to have reduced their 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels by 40%; by 55% in 2030; and by 80-90% in 2050. It also states that the share of renewable energies in consumer spending should reach 35% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 (in line with the increased participation of these energies in the total power generation in the same period).
Furthermore goals for reducing the energy/efficiency consumption ratio from 20% to 50% in primary energy, 20% to 80% in space heating, 10% to 40% in transportation and 10% to 25% down in general energy consumption. And to top it off the housing stock should be environmentally neutral by 2050.
The two fundamental steps in the ongoing strategy is first to increase energy efficiency and second to meet primary energy needs with renewable energy sources.
This process of energy transition involves a number of challenges Germany identified. It is much more comprehensive than simply setting aside nuclear energy, since it also involves the structural reconstruction of their energy systems and, given the magnitude of emission reduction greenhouse gases, would also imply an economy based on renewable energies and free from fossil and nuclear energy use. This conversion involves not only large-scale investments in new infrastructure but also towards the achievement of a more efficient energy sector.
Recognizing that market forces are insufficient to achieve this energy transition goal, specific policy measures will be required (for example by aligning incentives to the private sector) Otherwise, how would Germany achieve such goals as environmentally neutral housing stock by 2050?
What lessons can we draw from this experience?
Several. The first relates to having a National Strategic Plan where environmental sustainability issues are incorporated. Second, having more sources of clean energy is central not only for economic growth, but to any commitment to development. Third, the above can only be achieved with the help of market forces. The state should create under socially validated policies with incentive packages and penalties schemes, etc.
In November, the next Climate Change Summit in Lima (COP 2014) will be a tremendous global showcase for the interest of countries on these issues. I hope Peru does not miss this opportunity.
This post was originally published in spanish on May 21, 2014 in the Apuntes de Economía blog.
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