Faster renewables are now a security imperative, says German chancellor.

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German chancellor Olaf Scholz says Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sped up German infrastructure and a faster pace of delivery will now be normal for renewables.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, Olaf Scholz told the world that whether you are a “business leader or a climate activist, a security policy specialist or an investor,” the events of 2022 meant renewables had become the answer. He promised that the rapid response to energy risk over the Ukraine war would continue with a faster implementation of renewable energy solutions. 

Deutschland-Geschwindigkeit for renewables

Scholz said: “In less than seven months, we built up an entirely new import infrastructure for LNG in Wilhelmshaven. In the future it can also be used for hydrogen. Just last Saturday, I opened our second LNG terminal within just a few weeks, in Lubmin. The day after tomorrow another terminal-ship is expected to arrive at the port of Brunsbüttel. More will follow. This is not only good news for our energy security and that of our European neighbours who will be receiving gas from these terminals.”

Scholz said he wanted this success to become a new “German speed” or “Deutschland-Geschwindigkeit” – a benchmark for success by which renewables will be delivered.

“Your companies can hold us to this standard. A new law mandates that the expansion of wind power, solar energy, as well as electricity and hydrogen networks now take priority. We will make available no less than two percent of our country for wind power – with a minimum of red tape. We have streamlined our processes so that approvals for electricity grids – to name just one example – are granted on average two years faster than before. And we intend to step up the pace even more.”

Beyond renewables

While he promised that 2% of Germany will be made available for wind farms, Scholz also turned to sectors that needed radical change where renewables may not yet be able to help.

“I am thinking, for instance, of steel production. Hydrogen will play a decisive role there. And that is not a far-off scenario. Last fall, Thyssenkrupp gave the green light to build a direct reduction plant for low-carbon premium steel. With a capacity of 2.5 million metric tons, the plant will save 3.5 million metric tons of CO2 per year. This is just one example of Europe’s strength in innovation.”

Europe leads the world in hydrogen patents and a recent report found 80% of patents in that sector now involve advances in climate technology.

To continue that progress, Scholz promised that the German state would step into the market to make prices affordable. “The first supply chains for green hydrogen are currently being built up in our country. For our own production, we are using offshore wind in the North Sea. In parallel, we are concluding hydrogen partnerships worldwide. For as long as quantities are small and the costs of production correspondingly high, the state will bring prices down to a level lucrative for the industry.

“Our goal is nothing less than an electrolysis boom. And, as quantities increase, a hydrogen-powered industrial sector will emerge that preserves the climate and is independent of volatile prices for fossil fuels.”

Supporting Ukraine

While the Russian invasion of Ukraine had spurred significant new approaches in Germany, Scholz made clear that the war itself deserved just one approach – promising Ukraine large quantities of arms and aid as well as eventual reconstruction support.

“Ukraine is defending itself with great success and impressive courage. A broad international alliance – led by the G7– is providing the country with financial, economic, humanitarian, and military support,” he said. “Germany alone made available over €12bn last year and we will continue to support Ukraine – for as long as necessary.

“In Berlin at the end of October, we worked with international experts to draw up a Marshall Plan for the long-term reconstruction of Ukraine. A platform of major donors is coordinating the process and – in consultation with Ukraine – ensuring that it is well implemented,” Scholz said.