Renewable energy could offer security as global tensions rise
It’s already a well-established fact that renewable sources of energy are clean and increasingly cost effective. But with parts of the world gripped by geopolitical tensions and armed conflict, clean energy can offer something extra: The potential of energy independence and security.
In Germany, the idea of fostering energy independence through renewables is gaining traction with some lawmakers.
“When the conflict between Russia and the Ukraine started, we had a big debate about energy independence,” Annalena Baerbock, a Green Party MP in Germany, told CNBC’s Energy Future.
“People were thinking of how can we replace nuclear and also fossil fuels and that was the idea, to replace nuclear and afterwards coal with renewable energy,” she added.
For its part, the German government has ambitious plans in place. It says that in 2015 renewable energy accounted for around 30 percent of “gross electricity generation.”
“The idea is for the Germans to say they want to make more of their energy at home because they know they can rely on that, and that’s less exposure to the disruptions,” Craig Morris, from the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, said.
Wind energy is becoming an increasingly important part of Europe’s energy mix. According to WindEurope, the offshore wind industry in Europe saw 14 billion euros ($15.52 billion) in new investments in the first six months of 2016.
“The most promising form of renewable energy was actually the solar panels, but given that Germany is not the most sun intensive country, lately wind is gaining more and more,” Baerbock said.
The tide, for some, does seem to be turning. “Back in the 90s when renewable energy started they had only a minute share of the electricity market as a whole, but now that has grown to roughly 30 percent and it is to grow to 80 percent in 2050,” Jens Winkler, from wind energy company Enercon, said.