As part of its coal phase-out, the German government is pumping billions into future technologies.
The German cabinet is putting forward legislation allocating 40 billion euros to help coal-producing regions transition to sustainable economies. The money is earmarked for regions in the states of Brandenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and North Rhine-Westphalia, and the law is expected to pass the German parliament by the end of this year.
The money is intended for a wide range of purposes including improving broadband and other infrastructure and underwriting innovation and research. 600 million euros are already planned for eleven projects and initiatives, for instance, the establishment of a Center for Advanced System Understanding, a Fraunhofer Center for Digital Energy and an Innovation Campus for Electronics and Microsensors.
“The aim of the federal government together with the states of Brandenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and North Rhine-Westphalia is to develop coal-producing parts of Germany into regions of innovation,” says Flérida Regueira Cortizo, energy and environmental technology expert at Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI). “This requires structural change, in which environmental and construction technologies will play a central role.”
Earlier this year, the German government decided to phase out the use of coal by 2038. A special commission was convened to draw up plans for how to reconfigure the economies of Germany’s traditional coal-producing regions. The proposed legislation is a direct result of that body’s recommendations.
“Government economic programs of the 40 billion euros scope don’t come along every day,” says GTAI CEO Jürgen Friedrich. “This is a massive project aiming at transforming the economies and societies of significant parts of the country. So the opportunities for foreign and domestic companies to get involved will be many and varied.”
Germany Gets Top Marks in Renewable Power Production
”The REN21 comprehensive review of nations around the world found that in 2018 Germany had the third-highest total renewable-power capacity (113 gigawatts) after China (404 GW) and the US (180 GW), both of which are far larger countries. 59 gigawatts came from wind, 45 gigawatts from solar, 8.4 gigawatts from biomass and 0.6 from other renewable power sources.
In per capita terms, Germany was a joint third with Sweden behind Iceland and Denmark in non-hydropower renewable power capacity. Solar power continues to be a German strength. Germany leads the world in per capita solar PV capacity.
Germany (26%) was one of nine countries that produced at least 20 percent of their power from renewables. And Germany was able to dramatically increase its renewable power generation in the first half of 2019, setting a series of records including a share of 44% renewable electricity.
Germany’s success with renewables is the result of both government policy and private-sector engagement. The Federal Statistical Office has calculated that in 2017 ten percent of all business investments in Germany went toward environmental protection.
“The increasing share of fluctuating renewables, in combination with our phase-out of nuclear and coal power plants, is driving infrastructure investments into grid expansion, smart grids and energy storage,” says Tobias Rothacher, energy expert at Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI). “And of course that means business opportunities that foreign companies can exploit.”
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