A Good Start

The transformation of the energy system is a grand goal. The path that leads there is described by the Integrated Energy and Climate Protection Concept, which the state government had deveroped with the involvement of many citizens and which was decided on the 15th of July, 2014. One of its architects is Franz Untersteller. In this interview, the Minister of the Environment speaks about the milestones, the potential in Baden-Württemberg, and about why everyone in the state is involved in shaping the energy transformation.

Franz Untersteller in the portrait

Mr. Untersteller, do we really need an energy transformation? Isn’t it enough to use electricity sparingly?

Saving electricity is one aspect. But we have to rethink things fundamentally. The nuclear power phase-out is a done deal, and for good reasons. We need alternatives for the 40 per cent of energy production in Baden-Württemberg affected by the phase-out. It is the only way we will be able to ensure a secure supply. Besides which, climate protection also plays an important role. 

What exactly is the energy transformation all about?

First and foremost it is about replacing conventional resources like nuclear power and coal with renewable energy sources. In order to avoid shortages, we need new high-voltage power lines and storage devices with greater capacity and performance than those we have now. And we need grids that react intelligently to the electricity supply and demand.

So is the energy transformation really only about electricity?

No, the heat sector is also affected. There are still too many buildings that are hardly insulated. A great deal of energy is lost this way. We also need to learn to use our energy more efficiently.

And in the end, it will be the citizens who have to pay for this?

The energy transformation cannot be had for free, that’s true. Smart grids and improved storage devices cost a great deal of money. On the other hand it is also true that renewable energy will be cheaper than conventional energy for everyone as early as 2030. The reason is simple: sun, wind and water are available in unlimited amounts and at no cost.

So ecology and economy are not in opposition?

On the contrary. Doing business at the expense of the environment is on its way out. The future belongs to companies whose success is not at the expense, but rather to the benefit of the environment. We have grasped this and are acting accordingly. The energy transformation will definitely benefit us all, especially since it will create new jobs.

So will the transformation happen automatically?

Of course not. Companies, municipalities, citizens – the energy transformation demands that everybody does its part. It is the only way it will work - everyone is asked to take part. We have set three objectives for 2050: 50 per cent less energy use, 80 per cent renewable energy and 90 per cent less carbon emissions.

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