Germany needs regional power markets and a legislation overhaul to cope with its increasingly decentralised electricity system, and replace the current “chaos” in grid fees, levies and taxes, according to think tank Agora Energiewende.*
“We need to all-out abolish the current components based on decentralisation and create a new, clear system,” said the think tank’s head Patrick Graichen. Power should be differentiated into three categories, depending on the distance between production and consumption. Taxes and levies should reflect whether it was used “directly on-site”, in a “power region,” or “trans-regional.”
Production and consumption would have to be balanced out regionally to avoid grid congestions, instead of using costly re-dispatch measures. “This new system would create regional power markets and lead to different power price zones within Germany,” said Graichen.
The study also argues that producers of electricity for their own use, which are currently often exempt from taxes and levies, should pay more to cover the costs of transforming the country’s energy system.
*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.
The government of central German federal state Thuringia strictly opposes the construction of major high-voltage transmission lines on its territory, Thüringer Allgemeine reports. The government led by the Left Party (Linke) argues the grid operators’ grid development plan for 2030 put “a disproportionate burden” on the state, threatening Thuringia’s “diverse nature and culture,” the newspaper reports. The contested electricity superhighways Südlink and Südostlink are meant to bring wind power from the north to Germany's industrial south.
For more information, read the CLEW factsheet Power grid fees – unfair and opaque?.
China has decided to relax its ambitious quotas for electric and hybrid car production after holding high-level discussions with Germany, business daily Handelsblatt has learned from three sources. Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang discussed the issue in a telephone conversation, and China’s ministry of industry is now drawing up plans to ease the quotas with a result expected in the coming week, write Stephan Scheuer and Thomas Sigmund.
Read the article in English here.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
The regional government’s decision to ban older diesel cars from Stuttgart city centre on days with bad air from next year is “ill-advised”, “disastrous” economic policy, and its environmental benefits “questionable,” according to Franz Fehrenbach, chairman of Bosch, the world’s largest supplier of diesel technology. In a letter to Green state premier Winfried Kretschmann, whom he advises on economic policy, Fehrenbach writes the ban “does not improve particulate matter, will cause the end of the cleanest Euro-6 [diesel] engine, and ignores CO2 emissions, which are most dangerous for climate change,” according to a report in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which has seen the letter. Fehrenbach, who takes the subject of sustainability very seriously according to the report, adds the ban labels the diesel as a scapegoat, writes Rüdiger Soldt.
Find first reactions to the driving ban in last week’s news digest.
For background, read the CLEW dossiers The Energiewende and German carmakers and The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector.
The operation of thousands of wind turbines could become economically unviable once the first support period for renewable energy in Germany runs out in 2020, Michael Bauchmüller writes in Süddeutsche Zeitung. If the operators’ sales revenue in open competition stays at the current three cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), they won't be be able to cover running costs, Bauchmüller explains. According to industry association BWE, windmills with a combined generating capacity of up to 15 gigawatt (GW) might lose eligibility for support by 2023. Environmentalists call for a speedy coal phase-out in order to stabilise power prices, and prevent the decommissioning of low-carbon windmills, he writes. Others argue replacing old and inefficient turbines with modern ones under the new tender-regime was more suitable for an optimised land use, and call for increasing the current tender volume of 2.9 GW annually, he adds.
Read the article in German here.
For background, see the CLEW dossier The Reform of the Renewable Energy Act.
Energie & Management
The natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 from Russia to Germany bolster's the role of Russian supplier Gazprom, thereby harming competition and supply security in the region, according to the European Commission. Tom Weingärtner writes in Energie & Management the Commission called on Germany’s Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) to ensure a transparent operation of the pipeline, in line with European regulations stipulating a division between supplier and operator.
Read the article in German here (behind paywall).
For more information, see the CLEW factsheet Germany’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.
The EU General Court's approval of anti-dumping measures for imports of solar panels from China is a pyrrhic victory for Europeans, because the duties simply increase consumer prices, writes Michael Bauchmüller in an opinion piece for Süddeutsche Zeitung. “These duties thus did more harm than good to the Energiewende,” writes Bauchmüller. German solar companies now had to be careful not to become “the victims of their own lobbying successes.”
Mining Union IG BCE has rejected the Green Party’s proposal for a lignite phase-out, report Silke Kersting and Frank Specht in Handelsblatt. It did not do justice to the topic to “simply view it from the perspective of campaign planning for the upcoming state and federal elections,” wrote union head Michael Vassiliadis in a letter to the Green Party, which was seen by Handelsblatt. He added a similar commission was already proposed in the federal government’s Climate Action Plan 2050.
Read the article (behind paywall) in German here.