Glossary beginning with E

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  • e-mobility

    (Elektromobilität or E-Mobilität) Electro-mobility is a broad term for electric vehicle technology, including hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The German government aims to put one million electric vehicles (EVs) on the country’s roads by 2020, but this target is likely to be missed, said Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2017.

  • EEG

    (Erneuerbare Energien Gesetz) The Renewable Energy Act (EEG), introduced in 2000, has been Germany’s main legislative tool for the development of renewable power, guaranteeing all renewable power producers an above-market fixed price (see → feed-in tariff) for 20 years, as well as grid priority for renewables (see → merit order effect). For larger new installations, the reform of the EEG has replaced this system with auctions, where operators bid for a share in planned renewable capacity (see → deployment corridor), with the lowest bids per kWh then guaranteed for the next 20 years in much the same way as with feed-in tariffs (25 years for offshore wind).

  • EEG surcharge

    (EEG-Umlage) The EEG surcharge – added to consumer (industry and household) bills in proportion to their power consumption – provides the financial means with which electricity from wind, solar, biomass, hydro, and geothermal facilities is remunerated.
    Under the → Renewable Energy Act the German government introduced → feed-in tariffs for renewable power. This means that anyone producing renewable electricity and feeding it into the grid is compensated by grid operators at above-market rates per kilowatt-hour, prescribed by law in advance for 20 years. Transmission system operators (→ TSO) and later also independent marketers sell the electricity on the market.
    With the reform of the Renewable Energy Act taking effect in 2017, small facilities (up to 100 kilowatt capacity) continue to receive set feed-in tariffs, but the remuneration rates for renewable power from large facilities are now determined in auctions. Investors offer a price at which they are prepared to sell electricity from their planned projects. Installations offering the cheapest electricity win the auction – and are guaranteed that price for the following 20 years. Operators of such facilities must sell their power directly on the market (often with the help of independent marketers), but then they receive the difference between the monthly average wholesale market price and the auctioned tariff – the so-called 'market premium' – from grid operators.
    The difference between the expenses (mostly feed-in tariff/market premium payments) and revenues (mostly from selling small facility electricity on the market) is covered by the EEG surcharge. It accounts for around 20 percent of consumer power bills.

  • electricity superhighway

    (Stromautobahn) In order to connect prolific wind farms in the north of Germany with the power-hungry south, German grid operators, the federal government, and many experts say huge new maximum-voltage power lines are needed to avoid grid congestion. These electricity superhighways have proved controversial, with citizens protesting against their construction. This has led to the federal government’s decision that the new direct current transmission lines should be placed predominantly underground. Some analysts argue that with a more → decentralised energy system the need for this specific grid development could be reduced.

  • electromobility

    See e-mobility.

  • emissions trading

    (Emissionshandel) Emissions trading is a tool to keep carbon emissions in check by putting environmental costs on company balance sheets. First, a tolerable total amount of greenhouse gas emissions is specified and a certificate is issued. Then, if a company emits more than the allocated amount, it must buy an allowance for each additional tonne of CO2 equivalents (see → greenhouse gases). These allowances can be traded between companies. The EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is currently the world’s second-largest after China, covering energy providers, energy-intensive industry, and civil aviation in the 28 EU member states as well as Iceland, Lichtenstein, and Norway. An oversupply of allowances means that prices have fallen well short of what most experts say is needed to make electricity generation from fossil sources like coal more expensive compared to energy from clean power sources, such as renewables.

  • Energiewende paradox

    (Energiewende-Paradox) Germany’s rapid development of renewable power has barely dented its CO2 emissions. Cheap renewable electricity has pushed down the wholesale power price (see → merit order effect), forcing gas out of the market. This, as well as low ETS CO₂ emission prices and the fall in global hard coal prices, give coal a competitive advantage over less carbon-intensive natural gas. The use of cheap, domestically mined – and highly carbon-intensive → lignite has increased. The year 2016 saw a partial switch from coal to gas, due to falling natural gas prices. While the classic Energiewende paradox – CO₂ reductions lag behind despite renewables expansion – could be a thing of the past, the phasing out of Germany’s last nuclear power plants by 2021-2022 could again lead to higher emissions.

  • energy cooperatives

    (Energiegenossenschaften) See → citizens’ energy.

  • energy efficiency

    (Energieeffizienz) In order to lower its carbon emissions, Germany must not only switch to carbon-free energy sources, but must also reduce its overall energy consumption. The government’s 2014 → Climate Action Programme suggested that increasing energy efficiency could cut emissions by 25 to 30 million tonnes per year – i.e. more than any other measure could. The → National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency (NAPE) detailed steps to achieve this reduction, including refurbishing buildings. Since these steps require upfront investment, progress has been slow to date.

  • Energy Union

    (Energieunion) In February 2015, the European Commission adopted its framework for a European Energy Union. Its aim is to facilitate “the transition to a low-carbon, secure, and competitive economy”. The framework includes guidelines on an internal market for → energy efficiency standards, renewables, and → e-mobility, and assesses options for the “collective purchasing of gas during a crisis”. The Energy Union is ultimately geared towards harmonising regulation across the EU – a challenge, since energy policy currently varies significantly between countries. Germany’s concerns about the framework have centred on possible threats to its system of support for renewable energy development (see → Renewable Energy Act) and on potential interference in private energy suppliers’ gas buying contracts.

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