The reversal of Germany’s energy policy, often referred to as Energiewende, or ‘energy transition’, triggered a process which has begun to fundamentally change today’s energy structures. The development of renewable sources, the nuclear phase-out and the necessary overhaul of grids and networks are posing substantial new challenges to the existing system. At the same time, the conversion to renewable energy supply means new opportunities for business and a potential new age of innovation for Germany as a centre of industry.
For Energiewende to become a success story in both environmental and economic terms, we must put extra focus on cost efficiency. With a view to keeping the community, the people, on side it is crucial to reconcile the increasing pressure to protect nature and the climate with the need of domestic and industrial consumers for safe and affordable energy.
The North Rhine-Westphalia Government is working to create an efficient energy network heavy on renewable sources, where flexible power plants are used as a stopgap until electricity storage, demand flexibility and smart grids can take over the full range of functions.
A lot will depend on digital transformation in the energy sector. The future belongs to decentralised, digital and smart energy structures. We are already seeing an increase in IT solutions applied to coordinate, control and connect devolved energy production facilities in order to synchronise the production and use of energy in a smart and fit-for-purpose fashion. For this to happen, it is important to expand the network of power lines, upgrade the distribution grids and improve the way they are managed.
This year, too, ‘E-world energy & water’ in Essen is giving a comprehensive overview of products, technologies and new business activities throughout the energy sector. I expect this year’s theme, ‘Smart City’, to provide some innovative impetus to our effort to make cities more efficient, tech-savvy and sustainable. This could potentially deliver significant benefits to North Rhine-Westphalia, given that our state’s future belongs to a combination, based on smart grids, of photovoltaics, CHP, district heating, electricity storage and, of course, eco-friendly transport strategies.
I wish you all an inspirational, productive and successful ‘E-world 2018’.
Minister for Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy
of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia