In the heart of Brandenburg, Germany, the millionth renewable energy plant now stands tall against the autumn skyline, an interesting testament to E.ON‘s commitment to the country's energy transition. The wind turbine, commissioned in the municipality of Biesenthal, symbolises a pivotal moment in the journey towards sustainable energy and the shape of things to come.
The momentous occasion was celebrated in the presence of Klaus Müller, President of the Federal Network Agency. The commissioning of the one millionth renewable energy generator marks not just the connection of a single turbine, but an energy transition anniversary.
E.ON, one of Europe's largest distribution system operators, heralded this achievement as a stepping stone toward a future where millions of decentralised producers would contribute to the energy system. This kind of thinking has been actively discouraged in many countries, as governments fear for future revenue gaps if the population becomes too successful at ‘living off the grid'.
Thomas König, E.ON's Chief Network Officer, emphasised the significance by saying: “One million renewable energy plants − what a milestone for the energy transition! But the anniversary plant in Brandenburg is just the beginning.”
Looking ahead to 2030, the ambitious goal was set to connect up to 900,000 units per year. This aligns with the German government's climate policy goals, requiring the integration of six million new renewable energy systems and distributed consumers, including PV systems, charging points for electric vehicles, heat pumps, and wind farms.
To achieve that goal, a staggering 85 installations every hour would need to be connected, posing both growth opportunities and challenges for distribution system operators like E.ON.
The surge in connection requests signals a shift from the traditional model of large power plants supplying energy to households and companies. The future envisioned by German policy makers looks for millions of decentralised solar and wind power plants contributing to the grid.
However, this rapid growth will necessitate a synchronised effort in expanding distribution grids to prevent additional costs and ensure the smooth integration of renewable energy sources.
The distribution grids, identified as the backbone of the German energy system, required parallel expansion with the growth of renewables. That delicate balance is crucial to avoid curtailment of sustainable energy production on days of abundant sun and wind, which could result in significant redispatch costs. These costs, incurred when grid operators intervene to manage excess energy production, can amount to billions of euros annually, underscoring the urgency of strategic grid expansion.
Brandenburg, with its significant wind power output, is playing a pivotal role in the success of the energy transition. The network area of E.ON subsidiary E.DIS, situated in Brandenburg, boasted an installed nominal capacity of over 8,000 MW in 2022, making it the second-highest in Germany. The region anticipated a substantial increase in wind power output by 2032 and a doubling by 2040.
The millionth connected turbine is proudly operated by the Teut Group, showcasing a long-standing commitment to wind energy in the region since 1996. Located on land owned by Berliner Stadtgüter GmbH, which contributed significantly to Brandenburg's development with approximately 16,700 hectares, the wind turbine seen not just as a technological achievement, but a successful collaboration between industry, government and the community.
As the blades of the wind turbine gracefully turn, generating 6.8 megawatts of installed capacity, the landscape of Biesenthal reflected the way that harmonious integration of technology and nature can be achieved.
The millionth connection represents not just a numerical achievement, but it is hoped that it will also act as a beacon – guiding Germany toward a future powered by sustainable energy – where every hour brings new installations and a collective step closer to a greener tomorrow.
It would be great to see this kind of commitment from the British government – everyone knows we have enough wind and waves.