The energy partnerships and energy dialogues with more than 20 partner countries are a key instrument of the external energy policy of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. They form a global, continually growing and valuable network linking Germany with countries that are striving to transform their energy systems.
The energy partnerships and energy dialogues facilitate the exchange on energy policies at intergovernmental level. Furthermore, they provide impetus for energy-policy innovation and for economic cooperation on the path towards a global energy transition.
Diverse channels and platforms are used to discuss the key challenges and opportunities of the global energy transition. Strategies to solve problems are elaborated together. Issues such as network and system rules, electricity market design, hydrogen strategies, the coal phase-out, energy audits, energy efficiency in buildings, grid expansion, cyber security and blockchain, but also broader questions regarding the social dimension of structural change or local economic and employment trends are addressed in the context of regular working group sessions, expert workshops, high-ranking steering group meetings and bilateral talks, delegation visits and large-scale events that raise public awareness. The instrument also comprises specific market studies, pilot projects and digital forms of exchange such as webinars or hackathons.
The level of interest in Germany’s energy transition remains high – and so is the willingness to engage in a close dialogue on the part of policymakers, but also business, academia and civil society. Together with its partner countries, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is pursuing the goal of transforming energy systems in a way that is economically attractive, sustainable and cost-efficient while at the same time ensuring a secure supply.
An increasingly future-oriented agenda
The global increasing decentralisation resulting from the expansion of renewables, innovative storage solutions, electric mobility and further flexibility options, including demand-side solutions, is making energy supply systems more complex, requiring more flexibility. As a result, the focus of bilateral energy cooperation has increasingly been placed on the digitisation of the energy sector.
A successful energy transition combines security of supply and competitiveness with effective climate change mitigation. Carbon-free alternatives are thus becoming increasingly important, particularly with regard to gaseous and liquid forms of energy. The debate on the role of carbon-free hydrogen is therefore gaining momentum both in Germany and in numerous partner countries. The many activities that were initiated or implemented in numerous countries comprise: a background study on the hydrogen debate in Australia, a German-Japanese study on the role of hydrogen in both countries, an analysis of the potential for Power-to-X and a P2X commission in Morocco, a dialogue on hydrogen mobility with South Korea, the presentation of a plan for a South African coordination and support agency modelled on Germany’s National Organisation Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NOW) GmbH, and a dialogue on hydrogen strategies with Oman.
The number of energy partnerships is growing
On the margins of the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue (BETD) in April 2019, Economic Affairs Minister Peter Altmaier signed a new bilateral energy partnership with Chile. By virtue of its geographical location, the country offers major potential for electricity generated from PV and other renewables. The plan is therefore to engage in closer cooperation on renewables and energy efficiency, but also on hydrogen and digitalisation. Like Germany, Chile has already started to phase out coal. In addition, the intensive energy dialogues with Japan, South Korea and Jordan were upgraded into formal energy partnerships in 2019.
Launch of German-Ethiopian energy cooperation
On the basis of a bilateral agreement on the joint implementation of energy projects and the first specific initiatives in this context, Germany is remodelling its international energy cooperation schemes with a view to implementing its G20 initiative entitled ‘Compact with Africa’ (CwA). Economic Affairs Minister Peter Altmaier and his Ethiopian counterpart, Energy Minister Seleshi Bekele, agreed on a joint energy project in the form of a scientific competition for ideas on distributed electricity supply in rural areas and on measures to upgrade existing hydroelectric power stations. The aim is to strengthen renewable sources of energy as a means of securing a stable electricity supply – a prerequisite for economic prosperity as well as reform-oriented and market-oriented policies.
Partnerships as a means of finding country-specific solutions
Energy partnerships play a prominent role in developing sustainable, country-specific approaches to the challenges posed by the energy transition, always in close cooperation with the partner countries and with local experts. Not only are they instrumental in promoting the worldwide expansion of renewables and the dissemination of efficient energy technologies, but also in ensuring a permanent international dialogue on political and economic issues related to the energy transition and in supporting energy companies in Germany and abroad.