A thought experiment to start with: It is the year 2032. You are asked for an interview in which you are to talk about your company’s commitment. The reporter asks: 10 years ago, it was still almost unthinkable to achieve the climate targets because the expansion of renewables was proceeding so slowly. Then there was a turning point in early 2022. The necessary expansion of renewables succeeded in the 20s and the forecasts were actually far exceeded. What happened 10 years ago and what contribution did German companies, especially yours, make to this success?
Good reasons for the energy turnaround
One thing is clear: In this decade, we need to dramatically accelerate the expansion of renewable energies in order to drive our carbon dioxide emissions to zero as quickly as possible. With an honest look in the mirror, we can see: We are still a long way from that. The latest IPCC report of March 2022 makes it clear as never before: The use of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) of the last century inevitably leads to devastating consequences for our living conditions worldwide (including rising sea levels, increase of extreme weather events and droughts, rapid loss of biodiversity). In addition, recent events in Ukraine make it clear to us: energy supply is a highly security-related issue. German Finance Minister Lindner put it this way on February 27, 2022:
“After all, renewable energies not only contribute to energy security and supply. Renewable energies free us from dependencies. Renewable energies are therefore freedom energies.”Christian Lindner, taken from RND
It strikes me in this debate that the focus is mainly on the political framework conditions (i.e. more beneficial legislation for the energy transition). It almost seems as if companies and private individuals have no choice but to wait for legislators. But I don’t think they do. In this article, I specifically focus on the room for maneuver of companies in Germany (and beyond) with the question:
What can companies do now in concrete terms to accelerate the expansion of wind and solar power?
Currently, I see 6 concrete fields of action for companies to give momentum to the expansion and to benefit themselves as a company from favorable electricity prices and participation opportunities for employees.
1. Forming networks – nationwide & local
Link up with other committed companies in associations and use the multiplier effect. Actively draw the attention of customers, partners and employees to the need to expand renewables.
These nationwide networks already exist:
- Bundesverband Nachhaltige Wirtschaft
- Bundesverband Erneuerbare Energien e.V.
- Bundesverband Windenergie e.V.
- Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft e.V.
2. Use large company roof areas for solar PV
These companies are already doing that:
3. Use own open spaces for wind or solar power
Put wind or solar power plants into operation on company-owned areas (e.g. as shading for parking spaces). For this purpose, employees can be offered a share in the energy power plants so that they benefit from the income in the long term.
These companies are already doing that:
Invest or participate in start-ups and companies that accelerate the expansion of wind and solar power plants.
- You can find instructions here
- The GLS Crowd (GLS Bank) enables to invest in CleanTech visionary start-ups
5. Promote PV for employees
Subsidize the development of PV on the roofs of employees’ homes. Does this already exist? Do you know of an example? Then please write to me.
6. Strengthen local expansion
Partner with other businesses and citizens at the local level to make the city/town energy self-sufficient. Financially support solar and wind projects with direct citizen participation (called citizen energy cooperatives). In this concept, shares can be purchased in a citizen energy cooperative, which then builds wind farms on site. These could also be launched by your company itself.
- Bürgerenergiegewinner eG from Cologne
- Beng from Munich
- The first energy self-sufficient village in Germany: Feldheim near Berlin
What will your answer be?
I prefaced this article with a thought experiment. Looking at the proposed activities: What will be your response? What strategies will you pursue? I’m eager to hear your answers. Please write to me directly here in the comments section or on LinkedIn.