28 May 2018, 00:00
Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Call for wind turbine disposal standards / PV sustainability criteria

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung / Die Welt / BWE

A “decommissioning wave” of old wind turbines, whose 20 years of guaranteed support payments are up could become an environmental problem, Niklas Zaboji writes for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “There are hints of building law violation, authorities looking the other way and insufficient decommissioning regulation,” Zaboji says. Unregulated turbine deconstruction could lead to gear oil seeping into the soil or fibreglass flakes contaminating the environment. The German Wind Energy Association (BWE) says existing laws governing recycling and soil protection cover wind turbines. But it is calling for regulations requiring operators to keep funds available for decommissioning to be harmonised across the country.

In a separate article in Die Welt, Daniel Wetzel reports that Germany’s Technical Inspection Association (TÜV) wants a standing testing procedure to ensure all turbines operating beyond their 20-year support period remain safe, citing “severe dangers and numerous accidents” with turbines.

In a separate press release, the German Wind Energy Association (BWE) writes that technical experts inspect German wind turbines every two to four years during their operating lifecycle to ensure safety and the correct maintenance. “The safety of the facilities is of great importance to the industry,” writes BWE.

Read the Frankfurter Allgemeine article (behind paywall) in German here, the article in Die Welt in German here,and the BWE press release in German here.

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


German wind power companies should not repeat the solar industry’s mistakes, and need to focus more on international markets, Kathrin Witsch writes in an opinion piece for Handelsblatt. Germany’s renewables auction system and a general drop in support payments have hit the industry hard, and companies must not wait for government to improve their situation. It may be too late for some companies who bet on government support for too long to recover, she adds.

Read the opinion piece in German here.

For background, read the news digest item German wind power market faces severe slump in expansion – report, and the CLEW factsheets on Germany’s onshore and offshore wind energy industry.

Solar industry and research representatives

German solar companies and research organisations are calling for an effective industrial policy strategy to strengthen the domestic solar business and avoid an exodus of companies to Asia. In an open letter to the federal government, more than 30 signatories call for market incentives for solar products that meet sustainability criteria – akin to regulation in France. They also want the government to strengthen German solar research and development, and better coordination of cooperation across Europe.

Read the letter in German here.

For background, read the CLEW article Last major German solar cell maker surrenders to Chinese competition.

Die Welt

In an interview with Die Welt, German environment minister Svenja Schulze proposed a step-by-step plan for hardware refits for older diesel cars. Refits should be prioritised in areas of with particularly poor air quality, Schulze said, adding that total costs would be “in the low one-digit billion euro range”. Car owners and taxpayers shouldn’t foot the bill, she said but admitted, “there is no way of forcing” carmakers to pay.

Read the article in German here.

See CLEW’s diesel bans Q&A for background.


German engineering company Siemens has offered its digital enterprise technology to help build Europe’s largest lithium-ion battery factory, planned by Northvolt, Reuters reports. Siemens said it would invest 10 million euros in the project – that has already received support from Swiss rival ABB – which would become Siemens’ preferred supplier when production starts in 2020. Located in Sweden, the Northvolt project aims to be Europe’s biggest battery cell plant, producing 32 gigawatt-hours of battery packs a year by 2023 and rivalling Tesla’s Gigafactory for scale, Reuters says.

Find the article in English here and the Siemens press release in English here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet Germany’s Siemens: a case study in Energiewende industry upheaval.

German Energy Agency (dena)

The German bio methane market grew slightly in 2017, according to the Sector Barometer Biomethane 2017/18 by the German Energy Agency (dena). Bio methane had a share of 1.9 percent of the renewable energy market in the power, heating and transport sectors. “The mood in the bio methane sector has recovered for now, despite difficult regulatory conditions such as falling Renewable Energy Act (EEG) support,” dena head Andreas Kuhlmann said.

Read the press release in German here and purchase the publication in German here

For background, read the CLEW dossier Bioenergy in Germany.

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