Energiewirtschaftliches Institut an der Universität zu Köln gGmbH

EWI Energy Conference: Climate package polarises research and practice

EWI Energy Conference: Climate package polarises research and practice

26 September 2019 | At the EWI Energy Conference, experts from science, industry and politics discussed the German government’s climate package and the future of the German and European energy market. Economics and Energy Minister Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart drew attention to the special role of North Rhine-Westphalia in national and European energy policy.

“The Rhineland mining area is the largest lignite mining area in Europe, with 250,000 workers employed in the energy-intensive industry in Germany”, said Pinkwart at the conference. The transformation to a climate-friendly economic system therefore presents the country with special challenges. “We are facing the transformation offensively with a recently adopted energy supply strategy, the concept for the Rhenish coal field as a European model region for energy supply and resource security and our initiative in4Climate.NRW, with which we are initiating leap innovations for the climate-neutral production of tomorrow together with industry”, Pinkwart continued.

A few days after the decisions of the Climate Cabinet, numerous experts from energy economics and practice discussed the cornerstones of the Federal Government’s climate protection programme 2030. The conference not only dealt with national and European energy policy, but also with successful business models in the context of energy system transformation and the question of how digitisation will shape the energy system of the future.

Focus on economic, technology-open incentives

“The cornerstones of the Climate Cabinet’s Climate Protection Programme 2030 shift the focus of German climate protection policy from regulatory law to economic, technology-open incentives and balancing mechanisms”, said Professor Marc Oliver Bettzüge, Director of the EWI, at the EWI Energy Conference. “In principle, this is an important step in the right direction.”

Among the 130 participants at the EWI Energy Conference were prominent representatives of various disciplines from politics, science and industry, such as Dr. Matthias Cord, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board of Thüga, Barbie Kornelia Haller, Head of Resolution Chamber 7 of the Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency), Prof. Albert Moser, Vice Dean and Chair of the Institute for Electrical Installations and Energy Economics at RWTH Aachen University, Andreas Renner, Head of Politics, Economics and Society at EnBW, and Felix Zhang, Group Executive Director of Envision Energy.

In addition, the EWI scientists Dominic Lencz, Dr. Eglantine Künle and Lena Pickert reported in short lectures on current projects on momentary reserves, coal withdrawal and CO2 pricing in the building sector. The EWI organised the energy conference in cooperation with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (F.A.Z.) and the Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft (BDEW).

Towards more sustainability with machine learning

Vera Brenzel, Head of Political Affairs at E.ON, commented on European energy policy. “While the new Commission in Brussels defines climate protection as a broad growth area and gives new impetus to the issue, the German government’s climate proposals fall short of what is possible, especially in terms of certificate trading and reducing electricity prices”, said Brenzel. She was sceptical as to whether the “abundance of measures and new funding pools otherwise proposed” were really climate-wise in order to achieve the targets.

The EWI Energy Conference also dealt with the question of how the energy system can be reformed with digitisation and machine learning. “If we want to achieve a sustainable energy system and sustainable mobility, we can only do so with the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning,” said EWI Director Prof. Wolfgang Ketter. “The decisions of the Climate Cabinet show this once again very clearly. The strongest levers towards more sustainability are a strong expansion of the digital infrastructure, especially fiber optics and 5G, and a high degree of automation with a high share of renewable energies.”

The EWI Energy Conference was followed by the first Felix Höffler Memorial Lecture. With this lecture, the institute commemorated the former EWI director, colleague and friend who died in February 2019. Shmuel S. Oren (University of California at Berkeley) gave the speech in his honor.