"The technological leaps in NRW have almost been referred with energy.“

Johannes Remmel


Since July 2010 the green party mem­ber Johannes Remmel is minis­ter for cli­mate pro­tec­tion and environ­men­tal care in North Rhine-Westphalia. The NRW govern­ment has ambi­tious objec­tives. The goal is to reduce the emis­sion dra­ma­ti­cally and to lead the tra­di­tio­nal core of the German indus­try, the sec­tor of car­bon and steel, to a pro­vi­der of high tech­no­logy in the future mar­ket for cli­mate protection.

What´s the future for cole in the state NRW, that is directly con­nec­ted with its eco­no­mic cen­ter „Kohlenpott“?
Remmel: In nowa­days, coal has still a per­cen­tage of 72% of the gross elec­tri­city pro­duc­tion and brown coal part still con­tains 41%. In com­pa­ri­son, rene­wable energy only con­tri­bu­tes 10% to the energy mix. The coal mining is going to be ter­mi­na­ted in 2018. The cur­rent brown coal mines have alre­ady the con­fir­ma­tion until 2045. At the moment 15 new power plant pro­jects are plan­ned or in con­struc­tion - this amount con­tains 5 stone coal, 8 gas and steam plants and 2 pumps­tore power plants. It doesn´t work wit­hout dif­fi­cul­ties. Referring to the sce­na­rios, that the govern­ment has decla­red to its fun­da­ment, the brown coal per­cen­tage in the energy gene­ra­tion should be redu­ced to the half until 2030 and the stone coal per­cen­tage to a quar­ter as well.

Cole doesn´t play a big role in future. For you as a green, it must be beau­ti­ful when the CO2 pollu­ter disap­pear?
Remmel: Of course I am happy, when we pro­gress in cli­mate pro­tec­tion but I am also car­ry­ing about employ­ment and future per­spec­tives of the workers. By the way, since 1990 the indus­try in NRW has alre­ady redu­ced the car­bon dioxid emis­sion about 40%. Concerning the coal power plants: A lot of energy com­pa­nies say: The bet­ween 2006 and 2008 pla­ned power plants would not be accep­ted of the inves­tors under the cur­rent con­di­ti­ons because they aren´t eco­no­mic. They are only eco­no­mic, if they are working 24 hours per day. And that´s not the case, when rene­wable ener­gies have total prio­rity in brin­ging the energy into the grid.

And what´s the alter­na­tive?
Remmel: In future, we need types of power plants that are pro­vi­ding secu­rity, I mean, to sub­sti­tute the rene­wable ener­gies when there is not enough wind nor sun. We need a lot of capa­city and power plant that work highly effi­ci­ent, most decen­tra­li­zed and fast stee­ra­ble. Usually, these are gas power plants that are pro­du­cing energy and heat.

They let the people wait sucess­fully. Why is hap­pe­ning so less?
Remmel: There are no invest­ments, because there is no secu­rity in plan­ning at all. In gas, as well as, for pumps­tore power plants. At the latest next year the govern­ment has to decide how the design of the energy mar­ket will look like in order to esta­blish secu­rity in invest­ments and plan­ning. With a per­cen­tage of 25 per­cent of rene­wable energy, it is not pos­si­ble to talk about mar­ket intro­duc­tion; it is more about a mar­ket design. The ques­ti­ons here fore are: How can we rea­lize a most inex­pen­sive pos­si­bi­lity for the con­su­mers? How can we rea­lize a mar­ket struc­ture that faci­li­ta­tes Investments?

In NRW are big steel fac­to­ries. Does a green poli­tian like you con­sider excep­ti­ons for energy intens­vie com­pa­nies in faci­li­ta­ting rene­wable ener­gies (e.g. EEG-Umlage) as cor­rect?
Remmel: We need the energy inten­sive com­pa­nies at the begin­ning of the value chain. Also, to create cli­mate fri­endly pro­ducts. For example the Aluminium indus­try to build light cars or the steel indus­try to pro­duce wind energy. I don´t want to abolish regu­la­tion of excep­ti­ons. But you have to have a dif­fe­red look. The excep­ti­ons must be limited to com­pa­nies that are in com­pe­ting world­wide. In addi­tion, the excep­ti­ons have to be lin­ked to cer­tain con­di­ti­ons, that the com­pa­nies intro­duce an effec­tive energy manage­ment sys­tem. They must bring the evi­dence, that all of them rea­lize the tech­no­lo­gi­cal pos­si­bi­li­ties to use energy responsi­ble, effi­ci­ent and eco­no­mi­cal. A lot of big com­pa­nies alre­ady do that. One fun­da­men­tal thing: We want to sus­tain the pro­duc­tion in the areas here and keep the capa­bi­lity in order to com­pete international.

What kind of plans has the red-green govern­ment in NRW to bring the energy tran­si­tion to suc­cess?
Remmel: We are making a strong effort to uti­lize our poten­tial in the coge­ne­ra­tion of heat and power. We want to pro­vide effi­ci­ent and decen­tra­li­zed energy. The inte­res­ting thing in indus­trial regi­ons is that we have a coope­ra­tive thin­king of energy and heat pro­duc­tion. This is an unapp­re­cia­ted jewel. The heat mar­ket makes 40% of the energy demand. Second, we faci­li­tate rene­wable ener­gies. Third, we build highly effi­ci­ent and fle­xi­ble power­plants as well as energy sto­rage devi­ses. The North-Rhine-Westphalian govern­ment adop­ted the first German cli­mate pro­tec­tion law and inte­gra­ted man­datory objec­tives. The green­house gas emis­si­ons should be redu­ced until 2020 to 25% and until 2050 down to 80%. We alre­ady deci­ded a cli­mate pro­tec­tion start pro­gramme in 2011. The package con­tains 22 par­ti­cu­lar activi­ties and has a volume of several mil­lion Euros from incen­ti­ves and credits. We deci­ded an invest­ment pro­gramme in our coali­tion: 50 mil­lion Euros are going to get inves­ted in the coge­ne­ra­tion of heat and power. We give advise to the com­mu­nes inten­si­vely. There are two big invest­ment pro­jects in the Eifel and in East-Westphalia about a half bil­lion Euros. At it, it is about pum­ped sto­rage hydro power sta­tion. We sup­port con­side­ra­ti­ons of the RAG (German Coal Corporation) about a feasa­bi­lity ana­ly­sis. At it, it is about pum­ped sto­rage hydro power sta­tion at Halden or under­ground. And we work toge­ther with muni­ci­pal uti­li­ties and water uni­ons in order to install pum­ped sto­rage hydro power sta­ti­ons at river dams.

Beside the cli­mate pro­tec­tion law in NRW, there is a cli­mate pro­tec­tion plan as well. What´s it about?
Remmel: That society and poli­tics con­sider the energy change and the cli­mate pro­tec­tion as a com­mon task. We want to bundle the powers. It should be a trans­pa­rent pro­cess where all the affec­ted groups like indus­try, labor uni­ons, environ­men­tal uni­ons and rep­re­sen­ta­ti­ves of citi­zen work toge­ther as one.

NRW has pas­sed a mas­sive struc­tu­ral change. What´s the rele­vance of the energy change for the struc­ture of eco­nomy and the emply­ment?
Remmel: Right now only in NRW 26.000 people are employed in com­pa­nies of rene­wable energy. There is still room for fur­ther gains. A lot of che­mi­cal com­pa­nies and mecha­ni­cal engi­neers pro­duce for the branch of the rene­wable ener­gies. In the last 100 years the tech­no­lo­gi­cal steps have been con­nec­ted almost every time with energy. NRW offers with it strong indus­trial base, good requi­re­ments for the deve­lop­ment of cli­mate pro­tec­tion tech­no­lo­gies and pro­ces­ses. We have to focus on our future lead mar­kets. Personally, I see our future in deli­ve­r­ing the infra­struc­ture of cli­mate pro­tec­tions and as well as the pro­ducts for it. We offer tech­no­lo­gi­cal solu­ti­ons, effi­ci­ent machi­nes and che­mi­cal insu­la­ting mate­ri­als. „Climate pro­tec­tion made in NRW“ can raise to a strong brand with big advan­ta­ges in com­pe­ti­tion. The pro­vin­cial govern­ment faci­li­ta­tes and sup­ports this way actively.

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