The topics of climate change, environmental protection, and renewable energies are currently dominating the media, and with Fridays for Future, young people and young adults have significantly more political influence. This is evident not only in the elections to the European Parliament, in which the Greens in Germany doubled their votes and saw an increase of more than 3 percent across the EU. This is at present primarily in the political debate about the compliance with the objectives of the Paris climate agreement.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), renewable energies have produced one-third of the world’s electricity in 2018 and recorded a growth rate of 7.9 percent. Electrically powered vehicles are still significantly more expensive than fossil fuels, but advances in battery technology provide greater range. Solar plants and wind power plants are now an important economic factor worldwide. In countries with a lot of sun, solar power is already the cheapest form of energy with a price of two euro cents per kWh. There, large plants produce cheap electricity, and the prices for storage technologies have dropped significantly to allow electricity to flow at night. According to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, prices will continue to fall in the coming years. Solar economist Christian Breyer of the Lappenranta Technical University in Finland, predicts that 2040 electricity can be produced in sunny countries with large-scale facilities for less than one cent. In Germany, renewable electricity generation still costs four to five euro cents per kWh. Renewable energies, especially solar plants, and wind power are a major challenge for the electricity infrastructure.
The transport sector in Germany has so far been the sector with the lowest share of renewable energy sources. According to the Federal Environment Agency, it was 5.6 percent in 2018. As previously mentioned, battery-powered vehicles are significantly more expensive than cars and trucks with internal combustion engines, and there are currently only a few filling stations for hydrogen vehicles. In addition, vehicle prices and energy costs are significantly higher than gasoline or diesel vehicles.
The future requires intelligent transport systems and a new control of the base load in electricity grids. In house construction, the regulations for thermal insulation and energy renovation contribute to the fact that living in Germany has become significantly more expensive. Energy technology and climate protection are the art of making necessary innovations affordable.
The public debate is no longer just about technical innovations, but fundamentally about our way of life. In Sweden, for example, there is the term Flygskam, being ashamed to fly. The climate activist Greta Thunberg is the role model here. She only travels to conferences in Europe by train and waives flights. Air travel is often cheaper than holidays in Germany because kerosene is mostly tax-exempt in the EU. Only the Netherlands levies a tax on kerosene.
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