10 Oct 2016, 00:00
Sören Amelang Julian Wettengel

All new cars emission-free by 2030? / Energiewende costs


German federal states want to ensure that the sale of new diesel and petrol cars in the European Union ends by 2030 in order to protect the climate. In a resolution of the parliament's upper house (Bundesrat), Germany's sixteen states asked the EU Commission to evaluate whether member countries' existing tax and fee practices effectively promote emission-free mobility. The goal is that "only emission-free cars are registered in the [European] Union by 2030 at the latest."

Read the Clean Energy Wire article German states - New cars in EU should be emission-free by 2030.

Der Spiegel

Cheap German power exports hinder neighbouring countries’ energy transitions, Austrian environment minister Andrä Rupprechter told German weekly Der Spiegel. “Germany produces too much cheap electricity that other countries like Austria have to accept. With current power prices, investments in hydro or wind power are not competitive without state aid. […] The direction of the German Energiewende is simply wrong,” said Rupprechter. One of the issues is so called loop flows – excess electricity ‘spilling over’ from Germany into neighbouring countries on days when renewables generation is high and coal-fired plants are kept at full power. Together with other countries, Rupprechter aims to create an energy alliance against Germany, writes Der Spiegel.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet Loop flows: Why is wind power from northern Germany putting east European grids under pressure?

Initiative New Social Market Economy

The total cost of the German energy transition in the electricity sector until 2025 will amount to more than 520 billion euros, according to a study commissioned by industry lobby group Initiative New Social Market Economy (INSM). The largest part of the costs was caused by the renewables surcharge with 408 billion euros, while the expansion of the power grid cost 55.3 billion euros, according to the study. Until the end of 2015, the energy transition had already cost 150 billion euros, according to INSM. The authors call for substituting the support system created by the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) with a quota model that would oblige utilities to sell a certain share of renewable power. This would lead to competition between different technologies based on market economy principles, says INSM in a press release.

Find the press release and the full study in German here.

Find background information in the CLEW factsheet Balancing the books: Germany's "green energy account", and the CLEW dossier Energiewende effects on power prices, costs and industry.


German utility RWE’s green subsidiary innogy had a cautious stock market debut with shares “hovering around the issue price,” writes news agency Reuters. On the first day, shares dropped below the issue price of 36 euros at times, but reached that level again at the close of trading. “We are very, very content. This is good for innogy’s cash register, this is good for RWE’s cash register,” said Peter Terium, chief executive officer of RWE and innogy. At 5 billion euros, it was Germany’s largest stock market debut since 2000, but experts said innogy didn’t have much room for growth, writes Reuters.

Read the Reuters article in German here and in English here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier Utilities and the energy transition.

Association of Energy Market Innovators

The renewables surcharge could decrease significantly if the system were based not only on electricity consumption, but also on final energy consumption in the heating and transport sectors, according to a study by the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW), commissioned by the Association of Energy Market Innovators (bne). This would advance developments in sector coupling and reflect a more emissions-specific charge on all energy sources, as the consumption of gas, oil, coal, petrol and diesel would become more expensive. “Expanding the basis for the surcharge would have a steering effect at the expense of CO₂-intensive fossil fuels,” said Bernd Hirschl, director for the department of sustainable energy economy and climate protection of the IÖW at a press conference in Berlin. The different scenarios showed additional financial burdens for German households of 10 – 200 euros per year. Current renewables surcharge exemptions for energy intensive industries would remain in place, according to Hirschl.

Read the bne Press release in German here and find the study in German here.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The negotiations between the federal government and Germany’s nuclear power plant operating utilities about the clean-up costs are coming to a close, writes Andreas Mihm in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The utilities “would only be responsible for decommissioning nuclear power plants and packaging the waste,” while the government would take care of interim and final storage, writes Mihm. The operators would pay 23.3 billion euros into a state-administered fund to finance waste storage, as was similarly proposed by a government-appointed commission earlier this year. The payments would need to be made over the coming ten years, while interests would make a delay unappealing. The federal cabinet is to approve the relevant legislative reforms next week, writes Mihm.

Read the article in German here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet Securing utility payments for the nuclear clean-up.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Hearings begin in Washington this week in the “heated court case” of Swedish utility Vattenfall suing Germany for almost 4.7 billion euros at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), write Michael Bauchmüller and Claus Hulverscheidt in Süddeutsche Zeitung. The utility had reacted to the German government’s 2011 decision to accelerate the nuclear phase-out, because it saw itself expropriated. Vattenfall argues that the state must compensate it for lost earnings and investments made when nuclear power still appeared to have a future in Germany. The German government sees the legal action as “inadmissible and unfounded,” write Bauchmüller and Hulverscheidt.

Read a short version of the article in German here.

For in-depth background, read the CLEW dossier The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out and the CLEW factsheet Legal disputes over the nuclear phase-out.

Focus Online / Federal Motor Transport Authority

Diesel cars’ share of new vehicle registrations in Germany fell below 45 percent in September to reach the lowest level in five years, reports Sebastian Viehmann for Focus Online. Car expert Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, director of the Center for Automotive Research, told the author the decline of diesel cars is likely to continue because consumers are unsettled by the dieselgate scandal and the possibility of diesel bans in cities.

Read the article in German here.

Find the Federal Motor Transport Authority’s official statistics release here.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Operators of pumped hydro power plants warn a planned law will increase operating costs to the point where the stations will have to be closed, reports Andreas Mihm in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The government cabinet will vote on Wednesday to increase support for combined heat and power plants, which would raise costs for pumped storage. “We are talking about the end of pumped storage in Germany, which is not good for the Energiewende,” said Tuomo Hatakka, head of Vattenfall Germany. Pumped storage operators argue their stations must be exempt from paying the levy for combined heat and power.

Read an article in Die Welt about this issue in German here.

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