Urgent rethink required as Germany’s Energy Transition stalls

Energy Watch Group says renewables must increase prominence after coming election

15.09.2017, Berlin – With the German election looming later this month, the country is seeing its ambitious Energy Transition – the Energiewende – stall. The former global leader is seeing the rate at which renewable energy is being installed dramatically fall.

Behind the decline, argues the Energy Watch Group in a new report, is a series of policy failures. The tender process, put in place to encourage renewable deployment and replace Germany’s feed-in tariff, has been a complete failure, says the Energy Watch Group. Dramatic declines in large scale solar PV, biomass, hydropower, and geothermal have taken place since tenders were introduced, with wind power set to follow suit in 2019.

Most worryingly, at the rate at which renewables are being installed in Germany at present, they will be insufficient to replace nuclear closures and will derail the country’s decarbonization program.

“Germany moved from frontrunner to laggard, exactly at the time when renewables are the cheapest option, and Germany must rethink its policy structures and move away from tenders towards a modern feed-in tariff,” says Hans-Josef Fell, former German parliamentarian and Energy Watch Group President.

Fell observes that in the current election campaign, energy and Germany’s Energy Transition project has been sidelined, and must urgently return to the center.

The Energy Watch Group report sets out not only the extent of the policy failures regarding renewables, but also points to the danger to the German economy if it and the Energy Transition continues to stall.

“Germany is becoming disconnected from one of the most dynamic and disruptive sectors within the global economy, with China, India, and the U.S. standing by to take the lead,” said Dieter Janecek, German Parliamentarian, and member of the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen party’s economic and energy committee. “These countries are embracing this new economy, solar, wind, e-mobility, storage at the moment Germany is turning its back. In some years Germany will import the technologies from abroad, and no-one will buy the German technology and products.”

The Energy Watch Group advises that the new majority in the German parliament after the forthcoming election should pursue a very different policy agenda with regards to renewable energy deployment. This should involve:

  • Abandoning the tender process for renewables;
  • Removing unnecessary bureaucracy hampering deployment;
  • Installing a ‘modern’ feed-in tariff for combined renewable investment;
  • Incorporating grid integration as a target for all investors in renewables

The Energy Watch Group report is available in English and in German.

Find this press release here as PDF.

New studies show that the fossil fuel dependent countries can switch to fully renewable electricity systems and achieve zero-carbon emissions till 2050.

March 17, 2017, Berlin/Lappeenranta – In India, Iran and Nigeria electricity supply fully based on renewable energy sources and storage is feasible until 2050 and is more cost-efficient than other existing energy supply options. This is the result of a series of studies by researchers of the Lappeenranta University of Technology, including authors from the respective countries.

The fully renewable electricity systems in India, Iran and Nigeria would be 60-70% cheaper than the so-called “low-carbon” energy options, including nuclear power or the fossil fuel energy combined with the CCS.

“All the three countries have abundant renewable energy sources and will be facing a rising energy demand in the coming years and decades. The transformation of the fossil fuel dependent economies can solve energy security issues and drive the economic growth”, Christian Breyer, Professor for Solar Economy at the Lappeenranta University of Technology and Co-chairman of the Energy Watch Group scientific board said.

The new studies have modeled on a full hourly resolution the energy sectors electricity, desalination and industrial gas in India, Iran and Nigeria, fully based on renewable energy and storage. According to the studies, solar PV and battery storage will play a dominant role in the electricity mix, given their falling costs and given the fact that all three countries belong to the global Sun Belt. Meanwhile, the industrial gas demand can be covered entirely by a mix of biomethane and power-to-gas processes.

“The studies show that investments in new coal and nuclear power plants are no longer necessary and will lead to stranded investments. Climate protection and the avoidance of radioactive hazards are feasible and enable cost-effective energy security,” President of the Energy Watch Group Hans-Josef Fell said.

In India, solar PV and storage will form the backbone of a fully renewable electricity system. In times of low radiation and the monsoon season, wind and hydropower will help to sustain the energy supply, but also solar electricity harvested in other Indian regions not affected by the monsoon and transmitted by the power grid. In Iran, wind energy will be dominant until 2030 with solar PV taking over thereafter. In Nigeria, the study shows a phase out of fossil gas can take place already by 2040, resulting in a solar PV and battery storage dominated electricity system.


Share of different energy sources used for power generation in total electricity production in Iran

According to the studies, the costs for one MWh will vary between €37-42 in India, €32-44 in Iran and €35-38 in Nigeria in the year 2050. The overall costs covering production, storage and curtailment will be cheaper than conventional energy sources. For instance, new nuclear power costs some €110 per MWh and the fossil fuel energy plus CCS option some €120 per MWh. The study on Iran shows that if energy transition takes place slower than its potential is, it would cause higher cost for the energy system in the double digit billion € order.

“It is now a matter of favourable policies and financial schemes supporting investments in renewable energy to further accelerate the already impressive exponential growth of renewables and to turn these study results into reality”, Breyer said. “And if India, Iran and Nigeria switch to 100% renewable energy then other countries in their respective regions will most likely follow them as role models”.


India: paper and presentation
Iran: paper and presentation
Nigeria: paper and presentation

By Hans-Josef Fell

January 2017


  1. Ukraine was among the countries that ratified the Paris Climate Agreement early on, ahead of the EU and Germany. This move signalled a political will to contribute to global efforts to halt climate change and to significantly reduce the currently high shares of gas, coal and oil in the energy mix of the country. The country needs to accelerate the currently slow deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. Energy security of the entire Europe is under question and can be destabilized, as it was the case in 2006 and 2009, as the gas-price disputes between Russia and Ukraine disrupted deliveries to Europe.
  1. One of the biggest geopolitical challenges of Ukraine is its high dependency on energy supplies, especially natural gas and oil, from Russia. This dependency significantly decreased in the last two years. In 2015, gas imports from the EU have doubled, reaching 10.3 bcm, and have for the first time exceeded imports from Russia. The latter decreased dramatically from 14.5 bcm in 2014 to 6.1 bcm last year. Dependency on coal, coming especially from the war-torn eastern regions of the country, is another major problem. Coal provides 40% of primary energy supply and 30% of electricity production. This further undermines energy security in the country.
  1. Ukraine is heavily dependent on nuclear power generation, accounting for more than 50% of the country’s electricity production and 20% of primary energy supply. Yet, the existing 15 reactors are out-dated and a major safety hazard, as proved by Chernobyl. Ukraine receives most of its nuclear services and nuclear fuel from Russia.

Combined with the economic weakness, high debts, driven by the import costs of the energy raw materials and high unemployment rate leads to lack of political independence.

Chances and solutions

Diversification within the fossil and nuclear energy sector cannot serve as a solution. A new gas pipeline the EU has built in Ukraine serves only as a short-term solution since the EU is still heavily dependent on the Russian natural gas supplies. At the same time as own production of natural gas in the EU, especially in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany goes down, the EU will have problems with its own energy security.

Therefore, the only long-lasting and economically and environmentally reasonable solution is rapid deployment of energy efficiency measures and a transition to domestic renewable energy sources. Ukraine has a high potential across all renewable energy sources: solar, wind, water, biomass due to large rural areas and geothermal energy. All these sources need to be deployed, as they will create many jobs, especially in the rural economy.

  1. A decisive factor will be a modern efficient and 100% renewables based energy system in Ukraine. Fluctuations of renewable energy can be balanced by means of different storage methods, incl. power-to-gas, power-to-heat, battery, pumping stations, etc. and the integration into demand-oriented flexibility of hydropower, bioenergy, hydropower and geothermal energy across all energy dependent sectors: electricity, heating, cooling, transport and industry. Oil and gas in the heating and transport sector should be replaced by electrification. Sustainable biofuel will play a significant role in the transport sector (construction machinery and agriculture). Fertile and degraded land areas in Ukraine offer great chances for biofuel production and at the same time will help to protect the climate through carbon sinks.

The recent study of the Lappeenranta University of Technology “Transition towards a 100% Renewable Energy System by 2050 for Ukraine” that such transition is not only possible but also cost-effective.

  1. One of the most important drivers hereto is a favourable political framework, including laws providing financial security to investors in renewable energy and energy efficiency both domestically and abroad. Such laws can also enable a wide range of actors to invest, especially private people, small and medium enterprises, farmers, public utilities and financial institutions. A feed-in-tariff and a privileged grid access can guarantee such long-term investment security. A feed-in-tariff law should be based on the German model of the year 2000 and non-tendering models, as tenders ultimately benefit only large business investors. Also key is a change in the energy industry framework legislation, stimulation of competition through unbundling as well as reduction of monopolies and oligopolies and combating corruption.
  1. Know-how transfer, education and training in the energy sector through offensive programs at universities and vocational training schools as well as a state-financed campaign on raising public awareness about renewable energy and energy efficiency through decentralized energy agencies and energy consultants will be key. Also important is establishment of partnerships of municipalities in Ukraine with many best-practice municipalities in Europe and Germany.

Hans-Josef Fell was member of the German parliament from 1998 to 2013 in the Alliance 90/the Greens group. He is the co-author of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act 2000, and President of the Energy Watch Group.

November 30, 2016, Berlin – The International Energy Agency’s call for new investments in fossil fuels, in particular oil and gas, in its latest World Energy Outlook (WEO) undermines the agency’s seemingly positive messages related to climate protection and the development of renewable energy, an analysis by the Energy Watch Group shows.

The World Energy Outlook 2016, which was presented today in Berlin, calls for increased investment in oil and gas due to oil discoveries at lowest level in more than 60 years and low oil prices. The International Energy Agency (IEA) thereby disregards that the current low investment is in fact caused by the lack of new discoveries and the depletion of existing reserves. Moreover, higher oil prices will not be able to compensate for the lack of funding as cost reductions in the renewable energy sector increasingly challenge the competitiveness of oil and gas.

„Even if oil prices were to rise again, future oil production will not stay at today’s level, simply because of the limited availability. By calling for increased investments in oil, the IEA undermines climate protection efforts and threatens the global energy security. Only a rapid development of renewable energies can close the emerging energy supply gap. Oil investments are not able to do so”, says President of the Energy Watch Group and former member of the German Parliament Hans-Josef Fell.

“Even in its most optimistic scenario, the IEA projects the future level of development of renewable energies to be far below today´s rates. In this way, the IEA misleads the public about the real potential of solar and wind energy as well as e-mobility”, adds Fell.

The analysis by the Energy Watch Group shows: even though the IEA operates with positive messages with regard to renewable energy, a closer look at the numbers reveals that the WEO2016 in fact assumes a lower pace of renewable energy development than already achieved in the last eight years. Furthermore, the IEA seems to ignore the new global dynamic as a result of the Paris Agreement.

Even the report´s most ambitious scenario, the 450 Scenario, assumes that the net added capacity of new solar PV and wind power plants will peak in 2030. The IEA does not provide reasons, why solar and wind plants should face a net decrease of new installations despite their continuously falling prices and a growing global energy demand.

“A decrease in net added capacities stands in stark contrast to projections by leading international market observers. Assuming a slow market penetration of wind power and solar PV also contradicts the dynamic of the global energy transition in the last 10 years,” says Christian Breyer, Professor of Solar Economy at the Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland and Chairman of the Scientific Board at Energy Watch Group.

The report´s “New Policies Scenario” (NPS) projects that the costs for solar photovoltaic power plants in India will be 800 USD/kWp in 2040. This ignores the fact that the Government of India estimates the current costs for solar PV-plants at 710 USD (670€)/kWp. In addition, the IEA severely underestimates the potential of the e-mobility sector. This is illustrated by the IEA’s assumption that 80% of transport will still be dependent on fossil oil in 2040.

Further examples of the controversial IEA projections in the World Energy Outlook 2016:

  • The IEA assumes that Europe´s gas imports from Russia in 2040 will stay on today´s level. The IEA also projects that Russia will increase its gas production by 20% until 2040. This assumption neglects the fact that gas production in Russia, especially by the major producer Gazprom, is sharply decreasing. In 2015, Gazprom recorded a production of 419 billion m3, the same lowest level as in 1985.
  • The NPS Scenario suggests a net increase in nuclear capacity of 65 GW, the 450 Scenario even approx. 160 GW. The projected construction of 131 new reactors assumed for 2025 suggests that in the coming 8 to 9 years more than twice the 60 reactors currently under construction will be built. This assumption contradicts the experiences of the recent decades.
  • The IEA keeps assuming an increase in coal consumption up until 2040 in all scenarios except for the 450 Scenario, which projects a coal consumption drop by 50% in comparison to today’s levels. Yet, the 10% drop in coal production in China in 2016 as well as the loss of market value by many western coal companies give reason to assume a significantly higher reduction of coal consumption.

“It is long overdue that the IEA changes the status of the 450 Scenario into the NPS Scenario, especially in light of the current Chinese coal policies and the internationally binding Paris Agreement. In addition, the IEA is still blind on both eyes: it underestimates renewable energy on the one hand and overestimates nuclear energy on the other hand”, says Werner Zittel, Senior Energy Expert at the Ludwig-Bölkow-Systemtechnik and Chairman of the Scientific Board at Energy Watch Group.

In 2015, a series of studies by the Energy Watch Group and the Lappeenranta University of Technology showed that the IEA continuously published misleading projections on solar and wind energy in its World Energy Outlook.

Zero-carbon economy needed to meet Paris Agreement

November 4, 2016, Berlin – Germany’s current climate targets are too weak and fall short of meeting the Paris Climate Agreement. Meanwhile, the German government is on track to missing even these weak climate targets, a new study by the Energy Watch Group and the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO) Germany shows.

The Paris Agreement is entering into force today. Yet, the former climate leader Germany is most likely to take off to the world climate conference COP22 in Marrakesh without a Climate Action Plan in place – and is turning into a climate sinner.

“The federal government needs to completely rewrite its Energy Concept and climate targets. The greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 80-95% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels is inadequate to meet the Paris targets”, Hans-Josef Fell, co-author of the study, President of the Energy Watch Group, and Member of the German Parliament 1998-2013 says.

“Current climate protection measures do not bring about any significant emissions reduction. Global temperature is increasing at unprecedented speed. Given the consequences we already observe today, any further increase of global temperatures – 1.5°C or less – should be unacceptable. The target should be a cooling to preindustrial levels”, Fell adds.

The new study ‘German Climate Policy – From Leader to Laggard’ proves that the emissions reduction pathway in Germany has been surpassed every year since 2010. Especially the transport, electricity and agricultural sectors have contributed to this transgression. According to the government projections, in its most ambitious scenario, the transport sector for example will exceed the set 2035 targets by a striking 91%.

“The emissions reduction pathway from 2010 was already exceeded years ago. With the new more ambitious targets of the Paris Agreement in place, additional and stronger measures are now needed. The aim should be a zero-carbon economy by 2030”, Jörn Schwarz, author of the study and chairman of ASPO Germany says.

A global zero-carbon economy should go hand in hand with the creation of effective carbon sinks and requires a range of measures on the policy and technical level. The study shows that 100% renewable energy as well as a functioning circular economy is essential. The study authors recommend including climate protection into the constitution; creating incentives for private investments into climate change protection; and promoting research and education in this field.

“This study clearly shows that the current German energy policy removes any possibility to meet the Paris climate targets. Compared to the ambitious measures of other countries, Germany is increasingly lagging behind on its climate protection action. The federal government is jeopardizing the livelihoods of current and future generations, and the competitive advantage of the country“, Dr. Volker Quaschning, Professor for regenerative energy systems at HTW Berlin, and peer reviewer of the study says.

The study is currently only available in German. You can find it here.

Despite slightly increasing its renewables projections, the IEA still heavily underestimates the growth of wind and solar PV energy in its new report, Energy Watch Group (EWG) analysis shows.

October 27, 2016, Berlin – The International Energy Agency (IEA) is again underestimating the growth of renewable energy sources in its latest Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2016, the analysis by the Energy Watch Group shows. Despite an overall increase of 13% in the IEA’s projection for renewable energy capacity from the last forecast in 2015, the new figures covering the period to 2021 still suggest that annual installations of wind energy and solar photovoltaics (PV) would peak in 2015 and 2016, respectively, and would not grow anymore.

„The IEA is playing a dangerous game using misleading assumptions in its renewables projections. Although solar PV and wind are already the lowest cost sources of electricity in many regions in the world, the IEA continues to project that annual installations in these two sectors would not grow in the coming five years compared to the already achieved levels in 2015 and 2016“, Professor of Solar Economy at Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland and Chairman of the EWG scientific board Christian Breyer said.

The EWG analysis also shows that the IEA’s investment cost assumptions for solar PV in major markets for 2016 are at least 20% higher than in reality. Current prices for PV power plants in India are about 750 USD/kWp. Meanwhile, the IEA report says the prices in the leading markets (China and Germany) should not be lower than 1150 – 1300 USD/kWp, whereas in reality they are already 35-40% lower than that. The costs of global weighted average electricity generation, projected for 2021 by the IEA, are about today’s cost. This means that the IEA ignores the currently observed cost decline of about 5-10% per year.

According to the IEA, in the period 2016 – 2021, solar PV capacity will add 85 GW in Asia Pacific. Meanwhile, India alone plans to install about 90 GW (100 GW until 2022) in the same period and the Indian Minister of Energy said in spring 2016 that new solar PV is the least cost source of electricity, in particular cheaper than new coal plants. “We would like to know why the IEA assumes that this policy target in India will not be achieved. We have not found valid arguments in the report”, Breyer said.

The IEA is also projecting lack of growth of annually sold electric vehicles after 2020, despite trends indicating that electric cars will be cheaper than comparable cars with combustion engines before the year 2025. This has been projected by leading financial analysts such as Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“In the last 10 years, the IEA has been making misleading projections for solar PV and wind, as well as e-mobility, ignoring the radical price fall in these sectors. This appears as an attempt of protecting fossil fuel business that has come under economic pressure”, President of Energy Watch Group and former Member of the German Parliament Hans-Josef Fell said. “We call on the IEA to urgently review its assumptions and to finally make realistic projections in its forthcoming World Energy Outlook.”

In its 2015 series of studies, the Energy Watch Group together with the Lappeenranta University of Technology proved that the IEA’s annual World Energy Outlook reports between 1994 and 2015 had published misleading projections on solar PV and wind energy. The WEO has a significant impact on both political and economic decisions of governments regarding energy all around the world. The Energy Watch Group plans to assess the IEA’s forthcoming World Energy Outlook, due to be launched on November 16.

New Study: Low-Cost Energy System in India without Nuclear and Coal Base Load by 2030 Feasible

September 27, 2016, Berlin/Lappeenranta – In India, energy supply, fully based on renewable energy sources, storage and distribution, is feasible and the most cost-effective option for 2030 assumptions, a new study by the Lappeenranta University of Technology and the Energy Watch Group shows.

“Our modelling has proven that fluctuating wind and solar energy, supplemented by highly flexible bioenergy, hydropower, geothermal energy and storage, can provide the lowest-cost electricity in India by 2030 on an hourly basis and during all seasons throughout the year, including the monsoon period”, the study lead author and professor of Solar Economy at Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland, Christian Breyer, said. “In such sustainable and future-oriented energy systems, nuclear and coal-fired base load would be unreasonable and disruptive”.

“Despite some positive political initiatives on renewable energy in India, including the International Solar Alliance, the Indian government still does not give up its plans on new coal and nuclear power plants, arguing that they are indispensable for the power supply base load. Our study proves just the opposite,” President of Energy Watch Group and former Member of the German Parliament Hans-Josef Fell said.

“We believe that by investing in rapid renewable energy and storage, India has high chances to join and even overtake the leading countries on renewable energy,” Fell added.

The study represents the first research results for achieving a solid basis for the Indian future-oriented energy system in line with the Paris Agreement targets. The authors plan an extensive research on the entire energy system in India, including transport, heat, seawater desalination and the industrial sector.

Die Energy Watch Group -die im vergangenen Jahr deutliche Kritik an den IEA-Zahlen geübt hatte- meldet, dass die IEA in ihrem World Energy Outlook 2017 die Prognosen für Photovoltaik- und Wind-Energie nach oben korrigieren wird, so das PV Magazine.

“The IEA will raise its projections for solar PV and wind in its forthcoming »World Energy Outlook 2017«, according to Energy Watch Group (EWG), an international network of scientists and parliamentarians”, writes Photon.

If Germany Bans Internal Combustion Engines, It’ll Change the Game: We do not expect it will become a law within the next 12 months,” writes Volker Quaschning, an energy researcher at the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft (HTW) Berlin, in Germany.

Präsident der Energy Watch Group Hans-Josef Fell schreibt in PV Magazine Deutschlandüber die Erhöhung der EEG-Umlage.

Europa soll Kuschelkurs mit Exxon beenden. In Deutschland wird die Petition von Hans-Josef Fell unterstützt, dem Chef der Energy Watch Group und Autor des ersten Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetzes.

Im Club der Atomfreunde: Für zwingend erforderlich hält Fell, der heute Präsident der Expertengruppe „Energy Watch Group“ ist, die Einberufung einer Euratom-Vertragsstaatenkonferenz, die seit Jahrzehnten schon nicht mehr stattgefunden hat.

Neues Modell soll Kombikraftwerke fördern: Die Integration von Wind- und Solarstrom in das Stromsystem gilt als wichtige Aufgabe der Energiewende im Stromsektor. Nach Ansicht von Hans-Josef Fell, Präsident der Energy-Watch-Group und Ideengeber zum Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz (EEG), reichen herkömmliche Instrumente nicht aus.


Sigmar Gabriel murkst weiter: Warum die EEG-Novelle ihr Ziel verfehlt – ein Kommentar:

… So hat Hans Josef Fell, Präsident der Energy Watch Group, schon vor längerer Zeit vorgeschlagen, zum ursprünglichen Mechanismus der physikalischen Wälzung zurückzukehren.


Bundestag und Bundesrat haben das Ende der Energiewende eingeläutet, so Hans-Josef Fell in seinem Kommentar zur EEG-Novelle.

The Brexit offers a chance to finally put an end to the EURATOM treaty, writes The Energy Collective. According to Fell, Brexit will offer a unique chance to dissolve EURATOM.

Der Brexit könnte die Briten beim Atomausbau zurückwerfen: Denn nach Ansicht des Präsidenten der Energy Watch Group, Hans-Josef Fell, müsste das Land dann auch aus dem Euratom-Vertrag aussteigen und auf erhebliche Subventionen verzichten, schreibt Cicero zum britischen Votum.

The Brexit vote offers a unique chance to put an end to the outdated EURATOM Treaty, writes President of Energy Watch Group Hans-Josef Fell in his op-ed at Energy Post.

“We are on the edge of transition to emission-free economy -the only system to save the planet” says EWG President Hans-Josef Fell in his latest interview in The Beam Magazine.

“Regierung sollte den letzten Schritt auf dem fossilen Weg auslassen” – sagt Fracking-Experte Werner Zittel in seinem neuesten Interview mit Wirtschaftswoche Green.

The European Union must wake up to a new post-Paris Agreement reality. It needs an ambitious climate action plan to regain its credibility as a “climate leader” and send the right signals to investors, argues Hans-Josef Fell in his op-ed for Euractiv.

Hans-Josef Fell is interviewed in a documentary by ARTE about high electricity bills and the slow-down of the energy transition in Europe.

SolarPV TV interviewed President of Energy Watch Group Hans-Josef Fell on the sidelines of the clmate change conference in Paris COP21.

Werner Zittel ist überzeugt: Die Blase wird bald platzen. Aus deutscher Sicht hält er es deshalb für ratsam, das Schiefergas lieber im Boden zu lassen. Das Deutschlandfunk-Interview als Video und Audio.

Das Tagesgespräch auf Bayern 2 und in ARD-alpha hat gefragt: Wie ist Ihre Meinung? Kann und muss in Bayern noch mehr auf Windkraft gesetzt werden als bisher? Wo ist es noch sinnvoll und möglich? Wo lassen sich noch weitere Windräder bauen? Antworten gibt Hans-Josef Fell im Interview.

Die ZDF-Sendung Zoom stellt in ihrem ausführlichem Beitrag “Sonne, Wind, Wut” das Zerschlagen des bürgerlichen Engagements beim Ausbau der Erneuerbaren Energien dar. Zu Wort kommen Betroffene und EWG Präsident Hans-Josef Fell.

In seinem Gastbeitrag in der Frankfurter Rundschau drängt Hans-Josef Fell die EU zu mehr Mut bei der Energiewende und fordert eine vollständige Dekarbonisierung der Wirtschaft.


Berlin, 30 November 2015.  A new analysis by the Energy Watch Group shows the International Energy Agency has provided misleading scenarios in the case of solar power generation. The IEA has repeatedly ignored the rapid market growth of renewable energies in its World Energy Outlooks (WEO), particularly the added capacity of PV. In the WEO 2015 it has used outdated data, e.g. for 2014, when market growth was not taken into consideration. Newly added PV capacity for the year 2015 was ignored as well, although the data was already known in September 2015.

For 2015, an estimate of international market research analysts suggests an annual added capacity of PV of 55-60 GW. In the WEO, no concrete added capacity numbers are mentioned. Additionally, the IEA has not consiered the replacement of old PV plants starting from 2035. Taking this into consideration, assumptions of the IEA mean that the net added capacity starts to decline again from 2035.

As the cost of PV will further continue to decline, it will stimulate growth of PV installations worldwide. At the same time more financial investors are turning their back on fossil and nuclear projects in favor of renewable energies. Given those developments, the IEA forecast for PV and other renewable energy sources appear completely incomprehensible.

Full Energy Watch Group Analysis of the IEA’s outlook for solar power generation can be found here.

You might also find interesting:
The Energy Watch Group evaluation of WEO 2015
The Energy Watch Group study on WEOs 1994-2014.

The projections of the International Energy Agency (IEA) for PV have proven to be unreliable in the past. The Energy Watch Group had discussed this in detail in September 2015. The analysis of the current World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2015 shows that the IEA apparently remains at its assessments for future energy scenarios. The following analysis demonstrates this fact on the concrete example of the projections for photovoltaics (PV).

In the recent years, the IEA has ignored the rapid market growth of renewable energies particularly the added capacity of PV and used outdated data in its scenarios. Thus, the IEA ignored the market growth in 2014 and the new added capacity record for the year 2015, which could be recognized already in September. In particular, the IEA makes the highly unlikely assumption that the market growth for PV drops in 2014 and the annual added capacity remains lower than in 2013 for the next decades. For a still young world market, these are highly unlikely assumptions, which could only be conceivable if political decisions would regulate solar power as undesirable worldwide.

Figure 1: Added PV capacity

Figure 1 shows the annual market volume for PV. The black solid bold line shows the real added capacities from 1990 to 2015. For 2015, however, at the end of September an estimate of international market research analysts suggests an annual added capacity of 55- 60 GW. In the WEO, no concrete added capacity numbers are mentioned. This insight can be counted back from total installed power capacity. Since the values in the WEO are only given in five-year steps the Energy Watch Group has calculated an adapted scenario, matching the cumulative installed power capacity of the WEO. For each time period, a constant added capacity rate was calculated to reflect the exact value for each year.

At least until 2035, the annual added capacity rate of WEO 2015 „New Policies Scenario“ remains below the level of 2013. The Energy Watch Group has made various assumptions in the calculations on the lifetime of the PV systems. With a lifetime of 30 years, a rapidly increasing proportion of old plants must get substituted starting from 2035. Taking this into consideration, assumptions of the IEA mean that the net added capacity starts to decline again from 2035.

Assuming a PV system lifetime of 25 years, the beginning of the substitution of old power plants shifts by 5 years. Taking this into account, the net added capacity rate till 2030 in the WEO remains below the already experienced real expansion rates in 2013. Thereafter, the gross added capacity rate must increase significantly. Table 1 shows for the respective periods the calculated gross expansion rates, leading to the installed power rates of the IEA scenario.

Table 1: PV market growth rate

The required increased added capacity rate of the last five-year interval against the trend of previous years is implausible. This leads to the assumption that the IEA has not taken into account the need for repowering.

In addition, the figure shows the added capacity rates, as they were used in the WEO 2013 and the WEO 2014. However, only the average net added capacity rate was calculated from the difference of the installed power. Nevertheless, it shows how the scheme of the IEA continues. In either scenario, it is assumed, that the market growth at the beginning of the scenario arrived at the maximum and will decline in the future.

There are other institutions dealing with market scenarios for solar power generation. One of the best known is the scenario energy [r]evolution created on the regular basis, which was jointly commissioned by Greenpeace, GWEC and SPE in 2015 and carried out by the renowned German Center for Aerospace. Figure 2 shows the IEA scenario together with energy [r]evolution 2015 and the forecasts of Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), published in the ‚New Energy Outlook 2015‘. Energy [r]evolution updates the empirically observed market growth in recent years. In previous reports of energy [r]evolution it was observed that the projections corresponded quite well with the real development. This is true not only for PV but to a similar extent for wind energy.

Misleading IEA scenarios can not be perceived as credible. It is hard not make any judgment of its intentions.

Figure 2: Added PV capacity – WEO 2015 (NPS) scenario and Greenpeace – energy [r]evolution 2015

The decline of added capacity in the Greenpeace energy [r]evolution scenario from 2040 is justified by the fact that an even nearly 100% renewable energy supply is reached. Therefore fossil and nuclear power plants are already substituted and thus there is only a substitution requirement for already built power plants, but it comes in use later in full volume due to the long technical lifetime of PV systems. It should be noted that other authors expect higher installation numbers around the middle of the century and in particular no decline, which is essentially based on the fact that it is assumed on the one hand, a higher proportion of PV in the energy mix an on the other hand, a higher worldwide energy demand.

The global political economic conditions point to an even faster growth of added capacities compared to the previous expansion rates: The cost of PV will continue to decline, as well as the cost of battery storage, which will further stimulate growth of PV installations. At the same time even more financial investors divest from financing fossil and nuclear projects. This is partly because political blockades in Europe hinder a fundamental reform of the electricity market design, therefore only poor financial returns can be expected. Moreover in many parts of the world climate change is finally being taken seriously by an increasing number of financial investors and private investors concerned about the incalculable risk of nuclear power. This liberated capital is increasingly being invested in renewable energies. Particularly in view of this very dynamic development for years, the IEA forecast for PV and other renewable energy sources appear incomprehensible.