16 Aug 2018, 13:27
Sören Amelang Luke Sherman Benjamin Wehrmann

2020 climate target still within reach - study/ "Wake-up call" Germany

Clean Energy Wire / Greenpeace

A Greenpeace-commissioned study conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Economics and Energy System Technology posits that Germany can still meet its 2020 emissions reduction target, provided that several brown-coal-fired power plants are immediately retired and others are throttled back.“Germany can achieve its promised 40-percent greenhouse gas emissions reduction while ensuring its energy supply. The technical possibilities aren’t lacking – only the political will,” Anike Peters, Greenpeace energy expert, said.
The German government announced in June that it would widely miss its target of reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020 relative to 1990 levels. The Fraunhofer study developed two scenarios in which Germany could meet the aforementioned target. If the much-anticipated special auctions for renewable energies are held, 6.1 gigawatts of lignite-fired power would need to be taken off the grid immediately; if they are further delayed or not held at all, 7.4 gigawatts would have to be retired, the study says. This summer’s record-breaking temperatures and prolonged drought gripping Germany underscore the need for quick action, Greenpeace said in a press release. Greenpeace calls for a complete phase-out of hard- and brown-coal by 2030 at the latest.

Read the study in German here and the press release in German here.

For background, read the article Commission watch – Managing Germany’s coal phase-out and the factsheets Germany’s coal exit commission and Germany’s three lignite mining regions.


Germany’s failure to reach its 2020 climate targets “is an ominous signal for other nations struggling to reach their own targets,” write William Wilkes, Heyley Warren and Brian Parkin in an article for Bloomberg. “Other nations are looking at how Germany acts if only because many other big polluters have a bigger problem in making reductions,” according to the authors. “If Germany can’t succeed after all its efforts, it would be a signal the world must adopt more costly strategies to rein in emissions.”

Read the article in English here.

New York Times

The decisions to be taken by Germany’s coal exit commission “could have ripple effects around the world,” writes Brad Plumer in the New York Times newsletter “Climate FWD:”. “It’s the biggest climate story no one is talking about,” said Justin Guay, director of clean energy at the ClimateWorks Foundation.

Read the newsletter in English here.

The item “Commission watch – Managing Germany’s coal phase-out” and the factsheet Germany’s coal exit commission.

Clean Energy Wire

Travelling in the renewable-energy stronghold state of Lower Saxony, German energy minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) faced urgent calls to provide a secure framework for future wind power growth. Lower Saxony’s environment minister, Olaf Lies (SPD), said rules for additional tenders announced in the federal government’s coalition treaty must be put in place by autumn this year, and immediately followed up with a framework for the volume of new renewable energy capacity to be added to this system by 2030. “It’s clear we cannot repeat the wind power growth of the past year, but we want to make sure the industry has a future in Germany,” Altmaier said, referring to strong strong growth over recent years.

Wind-turbine manufacturer Enercon announced at the beginning of August that it would focus on its export business and therefore need fewer German suppliers, blaming deteriorating market conditions in Germany. This could put around 800 jobs in Lower Saxony at risk. Altmaier said he couldn’t make the decisions for the company but would try to provide planning security for the wind power sector.

For background see a CLEW factsheet on the government’s climate and energy targets here.

dpa / Welt Online

The Social Democratic Party (SPD), the junior partner in Germany's coalition government, has criticised Economy and Energy Minister Peter Altmaier, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), for failing to take action on important energy transition questions. The vice-head of the SPD’s parliamentary group, Matthias Miersch, told news agency dpa (in an article carried by Welt Online) that the minister’s “symbolic” field trip to power line construction sites “does not deliver grid expansion.” Miersch said Altmaier had to appoint a state secretary for energy in the economy ministry. “Everyone I talk to, from businesses to environmental groups, is stunned that this position has not been filled for several months now,” Miersch said.

Find the article in German here.

Read an article on Altmaier's new "Power Grid Action Plan" here and a CLEW dossier on Germany's grid expansion here.

Federal Network Agency

The Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) has announced the next round of auctions for solar and wind power installations in Germany. In a press release, the agency said the auctions, with a capacity of 670 megawatts (MW) for wind and 182 MW for solar power, will take place on 1 October. The maximum support rate for wind power will be set at 6.3 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) and for solar power at 8.75 ct/kWh, according to BNetzA. Separate auctions will be held for each technology.

Find the press release in German here and a short article in English here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier Onshore wind power in Germany.

Environmental Action Germany (DUH) / Reuters

The software updates offered by VW for diesel cars affected by emissions manipulation are completely inadequate to reduce the vehicles’ pollution levels to below legal limits, according to Environmental Action Germany (DUH). “We don’t need ‘Mickey-Mouse software updates,’ but effective hardware solutions that also work in winter,” DUH head Jürgen Resch told Reuters. One car actually showed higher emissions at cold temperatures after the update, according to DUH.
The German government is still in disagreement over whether to call for hardware retrofits. The environment ministry has said they are necessary to bring down pollution levels, but the transport ministry says the retrofits are too expensive and the focus should be on bringing future technologies onto the roads.

Find the DUH press release in German here.

Read the Reuters article in German here.

Find background in the CLEW article One year afer German "diesel summit," air quality challenge remains and in the factsheet “Dieselgate” – a timeline of Germany’s car emissions fraud scandal.  

Berliner Zeitung

Big cities around the world have a special and urgent responsibility to press ahead in the fight against global warming, Berlin’s Green energy senator Ramona Pop says in a guest article for the Berliner Zeitung. If the federal government fails to give the issue the adequate priority and misses its self-imposed climate targets, “we can and we have to do something,” Pop says. The heat wave that brought Berlin some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded shows “that we’ve already entered climate change,” she writes. Expanding solar power in inner cities, advocating for carbon pricing, better cycling and e-car infrastructure and more energy efficient buildings are just a few measures cities can take to accelerate the transformation to a more sustainable society, Pop argues.

Read the CLEW dossier Cities, municipalities and the Energiewende for background.

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
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