NORTHBROOK, Ill., Oct. 06, 2015 — UL, a global safety science leader, recently conducted a study to learn what makes Germany unique when it comes to renewable energy usage. The study and its result is available in a free white paper titled “Putting the Pieces Together: Transition and Transformation in Global Energy Markets,” written by UL Chief Economist Erin Grossi.
The study for this white paper included on-the-ground research and interviews with the German energy ecosystem working on the country’s energy transformation. Germany was of key interest to Grossi, as the country is making a large economic bet by setting aggressive goals to replace nuclear plants with renewable sources of energy. In terms of overall renewable energy usage, the country passed the 30 percent mark in 2014, and plans to reach 40-50 percent countrywide by 2025, and as much as 80 percent by 2050.
“Many studies have illuminated the differences between the United States and Germany in terms of scale, policy and existing energy infrastructures, but what we wanted to learn was why Germany would take such significant economic risks on renewable energy, why its government believes it will ultimately be successful with it, and what the United States and other markets could contribute to and learn from it,” says Grossi.
The white paper describes the overall differences between Germany’s environmental and security views, its razor-sharp focus on maintaining grid sustainability, and the rise of its virtual power plants to solve some of the more sophisticated engineering challenges. However, the study also shows there are some energy blind spots Germany will have to address to meet its energy goals—and this is where the U.S. can both learn and benefit.
“What we ultimately uncovered is that, while the U.S. lacks a similarly aggressive national plan to transform our energy market, we are home to the technology innovations and disruptors that Germany (and other countries throughout the world) will ultimately need to support their own transformation efforts,” says Grossi. “Specific innovations we looked at were battery storage, intelligent transformers and inverters, sensors and data analytics, and their associated standards.”
The white paper concludes a much more distributed, resilient and smarter energy future globally will take hold over the next decade because it is now technically feasible with today’s mechanical, electrical engineering and information technology resources.
The full white paper is available for download at UL’s Online Library.