In Germany, the energy and environmental technology industry has been influenced by the political goal of ensuring that by 2050, 80 percent of the electricity produced in the German market will be generated from renewable energy. Ever since the federal government decided to turn off all nuclear power stations by 2022, the industry has been focusing on alternative sources of energy. Closely bound up with this is the goal of stepping up digitisation in the energy sector. The intelligent use of modern information and communications technology (ICT) is helping society to save energy in many ways, whether through smart power grids, modern building management or efficient logistics solutions. For example, the government is fostering the energy infrastructure by creating intelligent networks and energy-efficient technologies. To do so, it has set up a dedicated research programme to support businesses and research facilities as they develop innovative technologies for tomorrow’s energy.
The wind power industry is a relatively young industry. During the last few years, the use of wind power was established and expanded, creating more than 150,000 new jobs. Today, about 8 percent of all electricity used in Germany is generated by wind power. The export rate in this sector is 70 percent. Germany currently has about 25.980 wind power stations, and there’s more to come. During the next 20 years, wind parks are set to be erected in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.
Bioenergy is becoming increasingly important in Germany. It is generated from organic material such as wood, but also from energy plants such as corn, which are called biomass. In 2012, the rate of energy generated from biomass increased by 8 percent compared to the previous year. In the same year, 91 percent of the heat produced by renewable energy sources came from biomass. According to Germany Trade & Invest, an association which promotes export and markets German as an investment location, the industry wants to make sure that by 2030, 18 percent of electricity and 15 percent of heat used in Germany will be generated from bioenergy.
Germany is a European leader of combined heat and power (CHP) technologies. In CHP, fuel generates mechanical energy and heat at the same time. This means that the heat generated as a by-product of energy generation, does not go unused. This industry has immense growth potential. This is because technically, it is possible to use CHP energy to cover up to 50 percent of the electricity demand. The federal government intends to promote the use of CHP, so that it will account for 25 percent in 2020, compared to 12.5 percent today. The overall aim is to improve climate protection.
Solar thermal energy: Solar thermal energy is a system which harnesses solar energy for heat generation. With 2.15 million solar installations in 2015, Germany is the largest solar thermal energy market in Europe. In 2015, the industry spent around €800 million on investments in new installations which convert solar energy into thermal energy.
Photovoltaics: In photovoltaics, electrical power is generated from solar radiation. With a market share of over 50 percent, Germany is the world’s largest exporter of photovoltaic products. In Germany, leading research and development institutes, universities and producers of photovoltaic materials and installations cooperate closely to continuously optimize photovoltaic technologies and processes.
In 2014, German photovoltaic companies employed 50,000 people, generated revenues of €8.6 billion and invested around €2.3 billion into new installations.
Both fossil raw materials and the options for disposing of waste and residue of chemical production are becoming increasingly scarce. As a result, life-cycle management and sustainable water management are becoming more and more important for supplying the German economy with the raw materials it requires. These sectors apply intelligent environmental technologies and use resources in a sustainable manner: They thus contribute to ensuring that the raw materials used in the business cycle are used for as long as possible and in a manner that is kind to the environment. Germany is a worldwide leader in almost all sectors of environmental technology. In 2013 the companies in this industry employed about 370,000 workers. In 2030, Germany is projected to generate revenues of €1 billion in the environmental technologies industry.
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