Despite the looming driving bans following the landmark 27 February court ruling, German carmakers continue to resist hardware retrofits to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from older diesel cars, report Michael Bauchmüller and Thomas Fromm in the lead article of the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “From our perspective, hardware retrofits of all types and models would take at least two to three years,” the carmakers’ association VDA told the newspaper. During that time, older cars would be replaced by new ones anyway, thereby solving the pollution problem without the need for intervention, according to the VDA. An unnamed industry source commented to the authors that “This would involve so many different car models – how is this supposed to work?”
Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks told the paper that diesel owners who can and want to retrofit their cars should have the right to do so at the carmakers’ expense. “We can’t allow a discussion solely focused on badges, losing sight of those responsible for the problem in the first place.”
Read the article in German here.
Find background in the CLEW article Court ruling opens door for diesel bans in German cities, the factsheet Diesel driving bans in Germany – The Q&A, and the dossier BMW, Daimler and VW vow to fight in green transport revolution.
Bosch / Süddeutsche Zeitung
Europe’s largest car supplier Bosch has decided not to enter the production of battery cells for e-cars, ending months of speculation. “Is Bosch going to start manufacturing its own battery cells? The answer is ‘no.’ Bosch will continue to buy in the cells needed to make batteries,” said Bosch Management Board member Rolf Bulander in a statement. “We are convinced that battery cells will be a standardised commodity in the long run. We have to understand cells technically, we don’t have to make them ourselves.” Bulander said his company will be an electromobility leader even without cell manufacturing operations of its own. “Cell production is not decisive for our success.”
Bosch’s decision is a setback for the European Union and the German government, as both had pushed for a European consortium to break the dominance of Asian suppliers. Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that the decision was also a “major blow” for the German car industry. “The dependence on Asians can no longer be challenged. [This decision] weakens the negotiating position of German carmakers.”
Read the statement in English here.
Read a Reuters story on the decision in English here.
Federal German government
Following the landmark 27 February court ruling on diesel driving bans, the incoming German government will consider the option of introducing a ’blue badge‘ as a federal measure to identify clean vehicles. “The issue will be taken on by the new government soon,” the government’s spokesperson, Steffen Seibert, said at his regular press conference. The court had criticised inaction by the federal government on cities’ problems with air pollution exceeding EU limits. The government’s critics argue that federal regulation, such as a ’blue badge,’ is the only way to avoid a confusing array of local rules on driving bans.
Find background in the CLEW article Court ruling opens door for diesel bans in German cities, and consult the factsheet Diesel driving bans in Germany – The Q&A.
The German town of Wolfhagen reclaimed its grid when a lease with E.ON expired more than ten years ago, overcoming strong resistance from the utility, and setting off a wave of municipalities taking back control of privatised infrastructure, reports Aditya Chakrabortty in a Guardian feature. “Since then, 284 municipalities, including the second-biggest city of Hamburg, have followed suit.” The case holds important lessons for how Britain runs its electricity, gas, water, and train services, according to Chakrabortty.
Read the feature in English here.
Find plenty of background in the dossier The People’s Energiewende.
Federal Statistical Office (Destatis)
In 2016, private households in Germany used 665 billion kilowatt hours of energy for housing purposes, a 1.4 percent increase on 2015, writes the German Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) in a press release. The figures are temperature adjusted and do not include motor fuels. The increase was mainly due to the fact that households used more energy for room heating (+2.2 percent), says Destatis. Room heating accounts for the largest proportion of household energy consumption, at just over 70 percent. Renewable energy use saw the largest increase at 6.3 percent, while natural gas consumption increased by 5 percent. The use of mineral oil, electricity, and coal declined in 2016. In the period 2010 to 2016, coal use in households decreased by almost 40 percent, while renewables use increased by nearly 20 percent.
Find more on Germany’s energy use the CLEW factsheet Germany’s energy consumption and power mix in charts.
Federal Network Agency (BNetzA)
The Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) has decided to cut feed-in tariffs again for onshore wind parks not awarded in auctions by 2.4 percent from 1 July 2018, the agency announced in a press release. It is the fourth time in a row the agency has decided to use the biggest decrease possible under current regulation, as actual onshore capacity additions between February 2017 and January 2018 far exceeded the government’s expansion plans. The tariffs that subsidise wind power are adjusted on a quarterly basis, and published four months before taking effect. Germany has switched its support model for onshore wind power installations from predetermined and guaranteed remuneration rates to setting the price in auctions, but small turbines with a capacity of up to 750 kW, pilot projects built primarily for technology research and development purposes, and facilities approved before 2017 and constructed by end-2018 are still eligible for 20-year fixed fees under the old system.
Find the press release in German here.
For background, read the CLEW factsheet High hopes and concerns over onshore wind power auctions.
Deutsche Bahn / PIK
The rail company Deutsche Bahn (DB) is affected by the effects of climate change “like no other large company in Germany,” and needs to prepare for more frequent extreme weather events, DB said in a press release, based on a study conducted by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). “Climate change is an undisputable fact, which is why reducing CO₂ emissions must be a focus for all of us,” said Deutsche Bahn head Richard Lutz. He announced the company’s strategy, which includes the installation of more resistant transmission infrastructure, the introduction of heat resistant coaches, more frequent clearing of vegetation along the tracks, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The PIK researchers say that extreme weather events will increase, storms will happen more often in the ’green‘ months, when trees hold more leaves and offer a greater target, and there will be more heavy rains.
Carbon Pulse / DEHSt
The buying appetite of installation operators participating in Germany’s EUA (EU allowances) auctions last year increased, even though their share of the total successful bidders remained steady compared to 2016, reports Mike Szabo for the Carbon Pulse, based on a report published by the German Emissions Trading Authority (DEHSt). “The trend was likely linked to a number of factors, including increased CO2 output from German utilities thanks to higher demand resulting from lower nuclear or hydro availability; a rise in industrial productivity; and expectations that EU carbon prices would rise as supplies tighten due to the approaching start of the MSR [Marker Stability Reserve] or post-2020 ETS reforms,” writes Szabo.
For background, read the CLEW factsheet Understanding the European Union’s Emissions Trading System.