When it comes to climate protection, the largest German Länder are organizing a competition that does not help anyone. Latest example: Markus Söder, whose CSU has been in government for 16 years. We must “shift into high gear”, said the Bavarian Prime Minister at the SZ Congress on Sustainable Development, calling for a faster phase-out of coal: “2030 would be an important signal”. It’s easy to tell if you have no surface mines and almost no coal-fired power in Bavaria: the bill should be paid by others.
The Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, also masters the game. No other federal state has reduced its CO₂ emissions so significantly since 1990 as his, the Union candidate for chancellor s ‘boasted on every conceivable occasion. The message: let others imitate this first. Laschet likes to ignore the high level to which the land of coal and steel still ranks. And every central unit that goes offline for compensation from the state dramatically improves the bottom line.
The struggle with retrospective percentages and cheap demands is doubly wrong. He forgets that the energy transition can only be successful in the entire system from the North Sea to the edge of the Alps. And instead of always talking about disconnection, the competition should focus more on whoever builds alternatives to fossil fuels faster so that Germany can keep its climate promises. Both countries have some catching up to do here.
Anyone slowing down wind power in the state cannot credibly demand more speed from the federal government
Germany comes from a time when large coal piles in the west and east as well as nuclear power plants supplied people and industry. But a time has long ago started that relies on wind turbines, especially in the north, and – wherever useful – solar, hydropower and biomass. This system needs storage for the phases in which neither the wind blows nor the sun shines. And more lines are needed to transport electricity mainly from north to south.
In addition, Germany will need more electricity in the future: electric cars are replacing combustion engines, heat pumps are replacing oil heating systems. Sectors like the chemical industry are securing a lot of wind energy for new processes that no longer need natural gas. Of course, Germany will also have to import energy in the future, for example in the form of “green” hydrogen. But that shouldn’t be an excuse for not using as much potential as possible at the national level.
So it’s not a good sign that new wind turbines in Bavaria usually have to be ten times farther from the nearest residential area than the system is high. It is unfortunate that additional wind turbines in North Rhine-Westphalia have to stand at a distance of one kilometer from residential buildings. Such specifications destroy the potential. Anyone who decides at the state level cannot credibly demand more speed from the federal government.
Exactly the opposite competition is needed: countries should make it as easy as possible to replace old wind turbines at existing sites. For communities and residents, nearby wind turbines are expected to be a significantly profitable business. Acceptance cannot be prescribed, it develops locally and individually. In addition, it must be as attractive as possible for individuals and businesses to install solar cells where it makes sense in terms of energy. The public sector should move forward on its own land.
The energy transition is a tax for society as a whole, but there is no responsible alternative. It doesn’t succeed by comparing percentages or shifting loads from region to region. It can only be successful if all the players make their contribution to a climate neutral global system.