From theory to practice: How the city of Hamburg implements energy transition

Last June 5 to 10, 2014, Psychology Volunteers on Bikes External Relations Officer Monica Manluluyo attended the 2014 International Student Conference on Environment and Sustainability. The 6-day conference was held in Tongji University, Shanghai, China where experts on environment, energy, urban development and economy discussed regional and global ecological civilization and green development in the new age together with participants around the world.

HAMBURG GREEN CAPITALWolfgang Schmidt is the State Secretary to the Senate Chancellery and Hamburg’s Commissioner to the Federal Government, to the European Union and for Foreign Affairs. During the 2014 International Student Conference on Environment and Sustainability: Symposium on Energy Transition and Climate Change held last June 5, 2014 at Tongji University, Shanghai, China, he talked about how the city of Hamburg implemented energy transition.

There is a high demand and constant flow of energy in Hamburg, Germany. This is due to industrialization, particularly to copper and steel mills. What Hamburg wants to achieve is sustainable energy, energy security and competitiveness. Being a business-centric city, there is also a need for reliable and cheap sources of energy.

One of the solutions to their problem that addresses sustainable and secure energy is off-shore wind energy. The challenge, though, is the electricity grid and the cables from the North to the South and the West. Solar energy is not a very reliable option for them since the sun does not shine brightly often. And while biomass supply is constant, it is not enough for an industrial nation like Germany.

As of present, nuclear power plants are being used to generate electricity, but they will be replaced in 2020 due to its nature as a dirty source of energy. These power plants, however, cannot be replaced solely by renewables. Hamburg, then, is making the transition from nuclear power plants to coal-fired plants, as they still do not have the capacity to invest in more renewable sources of energy.

To reduce air pollution, 50 electric-powered taxicabs have been introduced in Hamburg, but car manufacturers have yet to provide enough electric automobiles. Of the 1500 buses currently running, they also plan to replace these with CO2 emission-free models by 2020. The problem is that these special buses cost four times more than the normal ones.