For us, expanding renewable energies like wind or solar power is not just a trend. EWE installed our first onshore wind turbines back in the 1980s. Climate change mitigation and sustainable product solutions have always been part of our DNA. Like many people, we ask ourselves every day how we can further optimise our contribution to climate change mitigation and pave the way for a climate-friendly energy supply.
How EWE is shaping the energy revolution
We don't just meet our regional obligations; we are actively shaping the world of energy and providing more justice across generations. Find out what we are doing right now:
✔ Our networks are already powered by 95% renewable energies
EWE is proof today that climate change mitigation and security of supply can be achieved at the same time. For us, the energy revolution is already a lived practice. Even though a large proportion of weather-dependent electricity from renewable sources flows through our lines, EWE operates one of Europe's most secure electricity networks.
The particular challenge of electricity supply: the power that consumers are currently drawing from the network must be produced to the exact second, for everything from the kitchen coffee machine to the large industrial plant. This became a complex task when the many consumers were faced with fewer large fossil fuel power plants.
Today, by contrast, countless small and large power plants such as solar plants, wind farms and heating plants feed into the network. Still, consumption and production must be precisely coordinated.The new energy supply system is based on sophisticated forecasting methods, the exploitation of flexibility in consumption and generation and, above all, smart controlling.
✔ We will stop burning coal in 2023
Many are sceptical as to whether Germany can manage to phase out coal while at the same time shutting down nuclear power plants across the country. Our answer: we can, if the energy supply system is designed intelligently and renewable energy expansion is pushed more than it has been.
Because the energy transition is already a reality in our networks, we are convinced that the company can phase out coal much earlier than the German government requires. Within the EWE Group, Bremen-based subsidiary swb is currently still operating coal-fired power plants.
iDue to the current situation on the energy market, the coal-fired power plant in Bremen will remain connected to the network for the time being to maintain the security of supply. In early March 2022, we already began considering the option of extending its lifespan; accordingly, additional quantities of coal have been procured in part for this purpose. Moreover, continued operation of the coal-fired power plant in 2024 is also possible.
✔ Green energy for our buildings and facilities
In the coming years, we will equip as many EWE-owned buildings as possible with photovoltaic systems – wherever this is technically feasible and makes economic and ecological sense.
We are starting with the installation of five plants, each with around 50 kWp (kilowatt peak), on the EWE Campus on Cloppenburger Strasse in Oldenburg.
We will also meet some of our own electricity requirements with self-generated electricity from renewable energies at our transformer stations, beginning with the installation of PV systems at two sites.
✔ Eco-power becomes the standard at EWE
Does doing the right thing always have to be complicated and time consuming? No! This is why all of our private and business customers have been supplied with eco-power since early 2022 – no hassle, no forms, and no surcharge.
To maintain the freedom of choice for our customers, we continue to offer the option of purchasing so-called "grey electricity" which may come from various facilities, including fossil-based ones.
✔ We take care of energy storage
The share of renewable energies in our electricity mix has reached levels that were considered unattainable just a few decades ago. This is a challenge for the energy supply system, as electricity consumption does not always go along with the vagaries of the wind and weather. This is why it is becoming increasingly urgent to find ways of storing electricity – in an efficient, flexible and affordable way.
Large volumes of electricity from renewable energies are already flowing into EWE’s networks in the northwest today, sometimes more than can be consumed in the region. It is clear that energy storage will also play an important role here. This is why we are on the search for solutions at different network levels and in different sizes. This includes the following projects:
An increasing number of homeowners in Germany are installing photovoltaic power plants on their roofs, thanks both to technological advances and to lower costs.
The most energy is produced when the sun is shining the strongest – in the early afternoon on cloudless days. However, electricity is also needed if it is raining and once the sun has set. EWE’s home storage system enables customers to meet up to 70 per cent of their energy consumption using their own solar generator.
The offer also includes a wallbox for electric vehicles, which conducts the solar power produced on the roof directly to the electric vehicle’s battery in the garage.
Find out more at ewe-solar.de.
In autumn 2018, EWE brought a large-scale hybrid storage system in Varel into service. This serves as an “energy revolution storage system” to absorb the high percentage of fluctuating volumes of renewable energies in the electricity network.
What is the purpose of the large-scale hybrid storage system?
Frequency fluctuations in the electricity network are expected to continue to increase as the percentage of eco-power grows. The large-scale hybrid storage system in northwest Lower Saxony is located in a region where twice as much electricity is generated from renewable energies as can be consumed there every year. The term "energy revolution storage" sums up the function of the battery storage system: it is designed to balance out frequency fluctuations in the regional electricity network and to contribute to the stability of the grid. In doing so, it provides system services that network operators or operators of wind energy plants and other energy generation facilities can obtain on the energy exchange. Control energy is currently generated by conventional power plants. The large-scale hybrid storage system can provide this energy very efficiently and flexibly thanks to its special construction. If necessary, it can feed more than 11.5 megawatts of output into the electricity network or draw from it. Its storage capacity of more than 22.5 megawatt hours would be enough to supply every household in Varel with electricity for five hours.
Who are the project partners?
The cooperative project was initiated and supported by the Japanese economic development agency NEDO (New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization), with additional support from the Ministry for Economy Affairs, Employment, Transport and Digitalisation in Lower Saxony, as well as the EWE Association, the association of the EWE Group’s owners, based in Oldenburg. The Japanese companies Hitachi Chemical, Hitachi Power Solutions and NGK Insulators, together with companies in the EWE Group, are responsible for constructing, maintaining and operating the storage system.
Further information can be found at be-storaged.de.
At our Rüdersdorf site near Berlin, EWE and the German Aerospace Center’s Institute of Networked Energy Systems are building an underground storage cavern in salt rock. In this pioneering European project, 100 per cent pure hydrogen will be stored underground for the first time.
We want to explore how climate-friendly energy carriers can be integrated into regional energy supply systems and how storage and relocation affect the quality of the hydrogen. This storage project makes us a pioneer in Europe. The Group is the first German company to build and test infrastructure that will be essential for the storage of renewable energies in the form of pure hydrogen and is thus an essential component of a sustainable and climate-friendly energy supply system. We can only achieve the UN and European Union’s climate goals with hydrogen technology.
Find out more about the research project here.
Incidentally, we're testing the production and storage of hydrogen close to Oldenburg – in Huntorf, to be precise. There we are carrying out our pilot project that aims to create a functional, climate-friendly and sustainable hydrogen economy. Find out more about the project here.