Energy at the Elbe: umlaut moderates new ideas for Hamburg
To limit global warming, everyone has to get involved. Thomas Nicoleit on the strategic alliance of energy companies in Hamburg.
The Renewable Energies Hamburg Cluster Agency (EEHH) brings together more than 220 companies in order to speak with one voice on Hamburg's energy industry - why is that important?
Because Hamburg plays an important role in the energy transition. There is a lot of wind here in the north. When the energy in the south no longer comes from nuclear power plants and coal-fired power plants in the Ruhr area, it will come from here, among other places. It's about grid expansion and flexibility, sector coupling, as well as the increasing importance of international energy trade with France or Denmark, for example. The connection of companies and the development of a common stance - that is important now - also to further increase the pressure on politicians to act.
What exactly does the EEHH cluster do and what role does umlaut play?
The EEHH cluster includes companies from sectors such as research, production, project development, and legal consulting. They all want to empower the generation and distribution of renewable energies. In addition to the already established energies of wind and solar, the focus is on sector coupling and, in particular, the hydrogen economy. The topics of grids and digitalisation, as well as energy markets and systems, were also set as new points. umlaut has been commissioned to accompany the process, as we have been providing technical and methodological advice to various companies on precisely these topics for years - from strategy for e.g. entry into hydrogen markets, to digital concepts for utilities and distribution grids, to the operationalisation of new software and systems, for example for the implementation of the new Redispatch2.0 regulation.
The Renewable Energies Hamburg Cluster Agency is realigning itself - with the new "Cluster Strategy 2025" it highlights that it stands for an attractive corporate landscape in and around Hamburg that reflects the entire value chain of renewable energies.
How do you moderate the many different opinions of the companies?
When many companies with particular interests and different commitments are involved, it is important to find a clear objective from the beginning. The EEHH management defined the main points in advance and umlaut supplemented and specified them, so that a total of twelve focus topics were defined. For each of these topics, a half-day expert workshop has been conducted with interested EEHH members. There were keynotes as external impulses by selected stakeholders from the EEHH network, a collection and prioritisation of short- and medium-term goals within the topics, and the derivation and formulation of initial concrete measures. The resulting report was made available to the EEHH members, underwent a final revision, and was at last adopted at the members' meeting as Cluster Strategy 2025 without any dissenting votes.
The voices on the energy transition are diverse and the problems are complex. What is important in the consulting?
In addition to structuring "from the outside". our end-to-end expertise also allows us to provide consulting impetus in terms of content. I think the greatest advantage comes from a result-oriented approach: All target sharpening - and resulting steps - are focused on developing a common stance and voice for the energy industry. This was also what mattered in Hamburg. We have moved side discussions or ideas outside the question to the "backlog", so as not to get bogged down.
You say the cluster could be a beacon for other initiatives and regions - in what way?
The energy transition is already being thought out in great detail at the European level, for example through the "Clean Energy Package", and then concretised in national legislation. In both renewable generation and distribution grids, regulation is demanding increasing transparency for all involved players. A collaboration like the one in Hamburg is a wonderful showcase of how political objectives, local businesses, and technology can transparently intertwine to make the energy transition a reality.
Why is transparency important?
With the appropriate data, optimisation models can maximise the share of green power while reducing system stability costs. At the same time, new technological possibilities or new market-side business models, such as regional electricity tariffs, are shortening the innovation cycles for the energy industry: Whereas until the turn of the millennium, large-scale power plants and grids were designed with planning horizons of well over 30 years, today the energy industry must increasingly respond in short innovation cycles to new regulatory requirements and market trends such as sector coupling, in addition to planned economic approaches.
Is that more of a curse or a blessing for companies in Hamburg?
This has led to a special spirit of optimism, because many energy suppliers and network operators in Hamburg have internalised this turnaround over the last ten years, and reacting has turned into actively shaping of the energy transition.
What are the next steps?
The strategy operationalisation has already begun: networking events are taking place in the partly new focus topics, or the already existing forums are being further enriched by new thematic member contributions. umlaut itself is also an EEHH member, and shares empirical values such as the use of artificial intelligence in distribution networks.