Input and stimulus for the global energy transition: representatives from around the globe gather in Berlin

Experts from more than 90 countries at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue discuss necessary investments to accelerate global energy transition.

Economic Affairs Minister Brigitte Zypries at the opening event of the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue (BETD)© Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy/Susanne Eriksson

“We must not allow ecological goals to run counter to economic success. Both have to go hand in hand”, said Economic Affairs Minister Brigitte Zypries at the opening event of the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue (BETD). Since energy investments are long term and expensive, more and more countries are adopting long-term strategies to set the right course for the successful transformation of their energy supply systems. Zypries warned that wrong decisions would cost us dearly tomorrow. She welcomed the opportunity offered by the BETD to discuss how the process of transformation can be achieved in a cost-efficient manner without jeopardising security of supply or competitiveness. “If implemented correctly, the decarbonisation of the energy industry is the golden opportunity to modernise our economies,” said the Minister.

Berlin enjoys a few days as capital of the global energy transition

For the third time now, the BETD has turned Berlin into the capital of the global energy transition. At this year’s conference at the Federal Foreign Office, ministers and other high-ranking representatives from the worlds of politics, administration, business and civil society discussed how energy supply systems can be transformed to meet the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement and the UN’s sustainability targets. More than 1,000 participants from over 90 countries followed the invitation of the Federal Government. In addition to the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), the Federal Association for Renewable Energies, the Federal Association of Solar Energy, eclareon (consulting firm) and the German Energy Agency (dena) organised the event.

G20 presidency: congress to deliver important input

“The energy transition is no longer a national project. It is a global task,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Sigmar Gabriel. International cooperation rather than walls and protectionism is the key to combating climate change. “We want to share our experiences and learn from others,” Gabriel explained. This is also in line with the goals of the G20 presidency. The discussions at the BETD are intended to provide important input for the German government's energy agenda in the G20 process.

International study provides roadmap up to 2050

Against the background of the G20 presidency, the Federal Economic Affairs Ministry commissioned a study, the results of which were presented at the BETD. The key questions were: what do the energy systems in 2050 have to look like in order to reach goals of the Paris Climate Agreement? What investments are needed for this and how can misinvestments in energy technologies that are harmful for the climate be avoided? Answers to this question can be found in the study entitled Perspectives for the Energy Transition: Investment Needs for a Low Carbon Energy System that was conducted by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The analysis shows that when it comes to transforming our energy supply, we need to think in long-term investment cycles in order to avoid misinvestments in fossil energy sources. Here are the key findings of the study:

  • In order to achieve the goal of limiting average global warming to well below two degrees, as was agreed in Paris, the world needs energy reforms of extraordinary magnitude and of great depth that are implemented at a fast pace. In the next three years, carbon emissions will have to reach their peak and then fall by 70% by 2050 compared to today’s levels.
  • This change is feasible, both technically and economically. For this change to happen, we need to massively expand renewable energy technologies on a global scale and further enhance energy efficiency. “90 per cent of the necessary carbon emissions cuts in the energy sector can be achieved by boosting renewable energies and energy efficiency,” said IRENA Director General Adnan Amin.
  • It will not be necessary to increase the overall amount of investment that is currently being put into the energy supply system. “The overall global budget can remain the same,” said IEA Chief Fatih Birol. However, it is necessary to more strongly redirect funds away from investments in fossil energies and towards investments in clean energies. (The current distribution of investments in fossil and renewable electricity generation is shown in the infographic below).
  • Investments in energy efficiency in the end-use sectors of industry, transport, and buildings must, however, be raised significantly. For example, by 2050, 70 per cent of all new cars need to be electric. According to the IEA and IRENA, this will require the introduction of deep-reaching reforms, as well as investments in research and development.

Experiencing the energy transition: side programme featuring excursions

Alongside the core sessions of the BETD, there was also an extensive fringe programme on offer. After the end of the conference, further excursions took place on Wednesday and Thursday, following those run on Sunday. These also enabled conference participants to experience the energy transition directly. Not only were there visits to companies in the renewables sector, but there was also a tour of firms that are leading the way on digitisation.

Première of start-ups from the energy sector

At the Start-up Energy Transition Tech Festival hosted by dena, leading start-ups took centre stage. The event sought to bring innovative start-ups from around the world together with investors, companies, and business representatives. At the BETD’s formal evening reception, held at Kino International, winning start-ups were presented with the Energy Transition Start-Up Award. Six start-ups from France, Germany, India, Bangladesh and Nigeria received awards for their innovative business ideas linked to the energy transition and the global effort to mitigate climate change. These companies successfully fought off more than 500 entries from 66 different countries to win the awards (for more details on the winners, please click here).