Ladies and Gentlemen,
WindEnergy 2016 is bringing a fresh breeze to Hamburg. I am delighted to greet you here at the opening ceremony. As we can see from the number of nations represented by our guests and the number of exhibitors, we have surpassed the excellent results from two years ago. The WindEnergy Expo is a top-quality international industry, technology, and service exhibition. The fact that, for the first time, the WindEurope Summit is taking place concurrently is a great compliment to Hamburg’s wind energy expertise.
Hamburg is home to many companies that are leaders in controlling the development of renewable energy sources. The global market leader Siemens directs its Offshore-Wind Power division from Hamburg, and several major wind energy companies have their main offices here. And the control from Hamburg is not just figurative [ˈfɪɡərətɪv]– the signals for the Global Tech I wind farm, hundreds of kilometers away in the North Sea, are sent from the control center here in HafenCity.
Here in the North there is not only plenty of wind, but also knowledge and business acumen. 60 percent of the world’s know-how in the field of wind energy can be found within a radius of just a few hours’ drive from Hamburg, because right here we have the EEHH Cluster. 190 companies and institutions from the Hamburg metropolitan region have pooled together, and the network is brimming with ideas. It is Hamburg’s perpetual [pəˈpetʃuəl] motion machine. In the EEHH, research benefits from problems, mid-sized businesses have access to the newest scientific findings, and pioneering studies are developed from practical experience.
2015 was a record-breaking year for wind energy. Schleswig-Holstein, the home of wind energy pioneers, and Lower Saxony, which produces more electricity from wind energy than any other German state, made substantial contributions to achieving this goal.
Never before were so many offshore wind farms started. Capacity was increased by about 2.3 gigawatts, raising the total capacity from the North and Baltic Seas to 3.3 gigawatts. A few projects were given priority. But we expect to achieve an additional 2 gigawatts this year. The North German wind energy industry is essential to providing a reliable power supply for the entire country.
Offshore wind energy is a central pillar in the transition to renewable energy. In less than 15 years, the sector has succeeded in implementing industrial production, and has repeatedly reduced production times. It generates enough electricity to nearly meet the base load requirement on 340 days of the year. The current Renewable Energy Law has introduced a new framework that challenges scientific institutions and the manufacturing sector to further advance technological development. In order to utilize the full potential of renewable energy, we must expand the power grid. We have reached a compromise, and it must be implemented as soon as possible. But the conditions for the financing of the grid expansion must also be viable.
In Germany, the percentage of renewable energy in the electric supply is double that of nuclear energy. The lightning speed with which we are implementing this change is impressive. But there are still people all over the world who are asking “How are they going to do this?” When The Economist writes “To many, the Energiewende is a lunatic gamble with the country’s manufacturing prowess [ˈpraʊəs]. But if it pays off, Germany will have created yet another world-beating industry,” then we can’t view it as just some strange comment that can be forgotten about in a year or two. The big question remains: How can an industrialized nation change over to renewable energy without – and I must emphasize this – relinquishing growth?
The energy revolution will only be a real and sustainable contribution to limiting climate change if it is synonymous [sɪˈnɒnɪməs] with highly successful business opportunities. That will be achieved if the German economy remains at the technological forefront in the renewable energy sector. Which we can only do as a member of the European Union, and in the EU, the technological leaders are the countries in the North.
That’s why the NEW 4.0 project is so important. NEW stands for Norddeutsche EnergieWende, and this huge project will start at the end of the year, with 50 partners from Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein and with the support of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy. NEW 4.0 will show how to manage variable renewable energies and the strongly fluctuating power demand of an industrialized nation so that the system works. NEW 4.0 is our “real-world laboratory.” Germany must develop technology, business models, services, and everything that goes along with it, and we have to do it five years faster than anyone else.
You know that it’s all about making the renewable energy sector an over-achiever in the global economy. I am sure that with you, this task is in good hands. The German Renewables Award 2016, which will be presented tomorrow, makes it clear: the wind energy sector’s standards of innovation and personal dedication are top notch.
I wish you a successful exposition here in Europe’s wind capital.