North German Region is Going 100% Renewable: Test Run for the Energy Transition

energy transition
Wind Farm in Northern Germany.

Northern Germany is playing an important role in Germany’s energy transition: Schleswig-Holstein as an energy supplier with an ever increasing number of onshore and offshore wind farms, and the city state of Hamburg as a location for industry and large power consumers. As part of the NEW 4.0 project, the states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein have been merged into one consistent energy region. The overall objective is to serve as a showcase for Germany and to demonstrate within a European context that the energy transition is indeed feasible: NEW 4.0 will showcase how a region with 4.5 million residents can be supplied with regenerative energy as early as 2035 using 100% safe, affordable, eco-friendly and socially acceptable energy sources that can lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions by 50 to 70%.

Prof. Werner Beba, project coordinator of NEW 4.0., explains: “This is the first time that the interplay of different technological approaches, the targeted integration into the energy market and the application of the regulatory framework will be tested in an orchestrated manner as part of this large-scale practical trial, and this is what makes NEW 4.0. both unique and challenging. The findings of this project will contribute to making the necessary transformation of the entire energy system a success.”

NEW 4.0 is an unparallelled project initiative that unites stakeholders from industry, science and politics. “NEW” stands for Norddeutsche Energiewende (North German energy transition), and “4.0” signifies the threshold of the fourth industrial revolution, i.e. the digitisation of industry, which will play a key role also with regard to the energy transition as intelligent system networks are developed.

To this end, about 60 regional and transregional partners have formed an “innovation alliance” that aims to overcome the challenges of the energy transition based on integrated technological expertise. The project is supported by the state governments of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein as well as by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs (BMWI). Around EUR 90 million will be invested by the project partners within the next four years, and the BMWI is supporting this showcase project (SINTEG – Smart Energy Showcase) to the tune of EUR 44 million. The overall strategy, some 100 individual projects as well as 30 demonstrators have been developed over the course of the project’s three-year preparation phase.

Along this development path towards the energy system of the future, 70% of the region is to be supplied with safe, reliable renewable electricity as early as 2025. What is more, NEW 4.0 aims to support the process further based on its sector coupling concept. As part of the project, renewables will be gradually used for heat supply and industrial processes that previously ran on fossil fuels such as gas. Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg are thus using the current power shift as the starting point for accomplishing the energy transition in the medium term.

First and foremost, this large-scale project aims to demonstrate how the full integration of renewable energies can be accomplished even in a region characterised by pronounced, growing imbalances between production and consumption. This will require the comprehensive synchronisation of (fluctuating) production and consumption. To achieve this, the project will use an innovative approach for integrating and orchestrating all of the stakeholders and components of the production, transport, distribution, storage and consumption stages by means of intelligent network technologies. At the same time, the market-oriented system integration will be tested in the context of advanced market rules and regulatory conditions.

Stakeholders from all industries and along the energy sector’s entire value chain have joined forces for the NEW 4.0 project. Participating companies will be able to tap new market and export opportunities with product innovations and solutions developed in the context of the project and to boost their competitiveness within a highly innovative growth market. Based on this project, the states of Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg aim to strengthen their regional economies and to create new industrial value chains, which will contribute to securing and creating jobs in the region. And, finally, the project will enable Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein to sharpen their profile as a leading innovation location for the energy sector in particular.

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This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.

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