Picture by Tobias Koch

The PACE project interviewed Dr. Anja Weisgerber, Member of the German Bundestag and Climate Policy Coordinator of the CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group. From 2004 to 2013, Mrs Weisgerber was a Member of the European Parliament focusing on, among other things, environmental affairs.

1. What should be the priorities for Germany and the European Union in terms of climate policy?

With the climate package, Germany has set great things in motion. The climate package consists of three parts: The Climate Protection Act, which includes an effective monitoring mechanism that includes annual checks on whether the sectors are achieving their targets. If this is not the case, adjustments must be made. With the national emissions trading for the heating and transport sectors, we are introducing a carbon pricing system. And with a package consisting of well over 60 measures, we are also advancing climate protection in all sectors. Now it is important to implement these three parts swiftly.
Combined heat and power generation (CHP) has a special role to play in this. CHP is promoted in a way that is compatible with the expansion of renewable energies in the electricity and heat sectors. Modern CHP systems are likely to replace coal-fired CHP plants, secure the supply of electricity and heat and support the integration of renewable energies through a flexible and system-oriented mode of operation. The promotion of CHP in public energy distribution is being further developed and extended until 2030.
Europe has also set itself the goal of becoming climate-neutral by 2050. The Green Deal provides for a comprehensive package of measures to achieve this. This goal is supported by the German government. The aim must be to further expand the existing European emissions trading system. Studies show that emissions trading is effective and makes a significant contribution to reducing CO2 emissions. In order to achieve the goal, CO2 emissions must be significantly reduced in all sectors.

2. What (mix of) solutions do you see to reduce CO2 emissions?

The Green Deal recently presented at European level comprises a complex package of measures that will be implemented in the coming years. The goal is to reduce CO2 emissions by 50 to 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990. Sustainable and intelligent mobility, the implementation of recycling management and also the further development of European emissions trading, which is already making a demonstrable contribution to reducing CO2 emissions, will play a major role in this.

In Germany, a comprehensive package of measures for all sectors has been launched to achieve our climate targets. We are not relying on bans, but on incentives. For example, we are promoting e-mobility, making train travel cheaper and encouraging the replacement of old heating systems. By providing tax incentives for the energy-efficient renovation of buildings, we are creating effective incentives for more climate protection in the building sector. About one third of CO2 emissions in Germany are generated in this sector. This makes it a key sector for achieving the climate targets. CHP also plays an important role in the energy-related refurbishment of buildings. We have deliberately included this technology in the newly established funding system for the energy-efficient renovation of buildings. I personally have campaigned strongly for this. We are also making progress on the subject of hydrogen. Hydrogen is the energy source for achieving our climate targets. And it can be used in all relevant sectors.

3. How do you assess the potential of Fuel Cell micro-CHP?

Germany has set itself ambitious climate targets. CO2 must be reduced in all sectors. There is great potential for these reductions, especially in the electricity and heating sectors. Here, CO2 emissions can be significantly reduced and, in the future, these sectors will have to manage without fossil fuels entirely. CHP plays a pivotal role here. It is at the interface between the electricity and heat markets. The two sectors will increasingly merge in the coming decades. Fuel-fired CHP plants will therefore play an important role in the energy system for many years to come. However, they must now be modernised and switch to the use of renewable fuels.

4. How should Fuel Cell micro-CHP be supported by public authorities and industry?

In order to sustainably promote the energy transition in the building sector and to achieve the climate targets for 2030, the use of micro-CHP in addition to renewable energies is indispensable. For the energy transition to work, incentives for innovative technologies must not only be maintained but also extended further. We are cultivating these incentives by providing tax benefits for the energy-related renovation of buildings, especially for the expanded use of cogeneration. The existing support programmes of BAFA and KfW will also continue to be available. The Federal Government also plans to make these programmes less complicated and more consumer-friendly.

5. Do you have a Fuel Cell micro-CHP unit at home? If not, would you consider one for the future?

I recently built my own house and I consciously focused on climate-friendly technologies in the construction process. In my considerations, the installation of a CHP system was as much a matter of debate as the installation of a heat pump. The decision was finally made in favour of the heat pump. I have also had a solar power system installed on the roof and plan to install a charging station for an electric car in the garage as well as an energy storage system.