In preparation for the federal parliamentary elections 2017, Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union is considering calling for an end to Germany's core renewable energy support, writes Stefan Schultz for Spiegel Online. The party would “work on a concept on how to exit Renewable Energy Act (EEG) support by the end of the coming legislative period,” according to a discussion paper by the CDU’s expert committee on finance, economy and energy. “Support must be finite,” the party’s energy expert Joachim Pfeiffer told Spiegel Online. CDU sources said it was far from decided whether the party would make phasing out renewables support an election campaign policy.
Read the article in German here.
For background read the CLEW article Germany debates form of renewables support as levy rises.
German power customers will pay more than 35 billion euros in taxes, fees, and surcharges with their electricity bills in 2017, the utilities lobby German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) writes in a press release. “This is more than three times the amount the federal government plans to invest in roads, railways and waterways” in that year, BDEW’s chairman Stefan Kapferer said. According to the BDEW, government levies such as the EEG surcharge will account for 54 percent of the power price in 2017 while the share influenceable by energy providers currently stands at only 22 percent.
The EEG surcharge is often used as a price-tag for the Energiewende, which critics say is inappropriate. They argue that the surcharge is strongly influenced by wholesale power prices and reflected neither many cost savings and benefits elsewhere nor other costs of the energy transition policy.
For background on the Energiewende’s effect on power customers’ electricity bills, see the CLEW factsheet What German households pay for power.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Costs such as the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) surcharge and power grid fees make electricity artificially expensive and keep companies from ramping up production at times of low wholesale power prices, Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) president Eric Schweitzer told Andreas Mihm for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The growth of renewables has made cheaply produced excess power available, but this is mostly sold abroad because domestic fees kept the industry from using it in Germany. Schweitzer calls for electricity tax to be lowered to “nearly zero”. Large power consumers are already often fully or partly exempt from levies on electricity, writes Mihm.
For background read the CLEW factsheet Industrial power prices and the Energiewende and the CLEW dossier Energiewende effects on power prices, costs and industry.
Federal Ministry for the Environment
Europe will have to “fill the gap” in cooperating with China on climate protection if the future US administration refuses to maintain the Obama government's impetus, German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said at the DENEFF financial forum for energy efficiency in Berlin. “We will have to brace for a situation in which the USA no longer shows the determination to press ahead with ambitious goals together with China,” Hendricks said referring to a US government under Donald Trump. She added that even if the upcoming US administration was sceptical about climate protection efforts, the vast majority of US citizens and state governments acknowledged human impacts on the climate and called climate protection measures in the country “irreversible”.
Members of the Christian Democratic and Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) parliamentary group in the German Bundestag have called for closer cooperation on energy policy within the European Union at the group’s 8th Energy Policy Dialogue on Monday in Berlin. “The German Energiewende must be embedded in the European context,” said Chief of the Chancellery Peter Altmaier.
The recent decision by transmission grid operators and the federal economy ministry – led by Social Democrat Sigmar Gabriel – to effectively split the common power price zone between Germany and Austria was criticised at the event: “This is the wrong path,” said CDU/CSU energy policy expert Thomas Bareiß. The German government’s stance on expanding the Nord Stream Russian-German natural gas pipeline was also questioned. “From a policy standpoint, Nord Stream 2 is not necessarily in accordance with the aim to diversify the EU’s natural gas supply,” said Mechthild Wörsdörfer, Director of energy policy for the European Commission.
For background read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and its implications for international security and the CLEW articles Loop flows: Why is wind power from northern Germany putting east European grids under pressure? and Europe's largest electricity market set to split.
EurActiv / OPAL Gastransport GmbH
Under a new agreement, Russia's Gazprom will have greater access to the German OPAL connection pipeline in eastern Germany, removing a key hurdle to Gazprom’s plan to double Nord Stream capacity in Nord Stream 2, writes EurActiv. “The latest agreement represents a balanced compromise between the interests of the parties and the demands of the market, which has been brought in line with the German energy law,” Eduard Schmitke, managing director of OPAL Gastransport, said in a statement. Until now, Gazprom had only been allowed to use 50 percent of OPAL under an EU ruling aimed at preventing dominance of supply infrastructure. The EU Commission paved the way for greater access in October.
It remains to be seen if the other member states will support Chancellor Angela Merkel’s agenda for Germany’s G20 presidency starting on 1 December, write Jan Hildebrand and Martin Greive in Handelsblatt. “The Chancellor aims to rope in the G20 to contribute their part to implement the Paris Agreement,” writes Handelsblatt, citing the Chancellery document “Core messages of the German G20 presidency,” seen by the newspaper. “We want to invest in sustainable climate and energy concepts,” writes the government. This could lead to a dispute with the coming US administration, writes Handelsblatt.
Read the article (behind paywall) in German here.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
German carmakers are now envisaging the mass production of e-cars, which will have wide-ranging consequences for suppliers, writes Johannes Winterhagen in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Many highly specialised German companies focusing on combustion technology parts – exhaust systems, cylinders, gear boxes, and many others – will not be able to adapt.
For background on the challenges for Germany’s mighty car industry, read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.
The Paris Climate Agreement means transport has to be re-invented and cycling offers large untapped potential for climate protection, write Green Party parliamentary group’s vice-chair Kerstin Andreae and the party’s transport expert Matthias Gastel in a commentary for Frankfurter Rundschau. “Cycling is currently experiencing a revival in Germany. But the boom is hampered by bad cycling infrastructure, and a lack of political will.” The authors call for incentives to encourage bike commuting, given that more than half of all German employees travel less than 10 kilometres to work.
Find more background in the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector.
Europe’s first ever cross-border solar tender sees five Danish solar developers snapping up 50 megawatts in a German tender for construction of five solar projects in Denmark, reports Ian Clover in pv magazine. Winning bids of EUR 5.38 cents/kWh were almost two cents lower than in Germany’s previous solar tender in August. The Danish developers are to develop the projects on agricultural land – something that is currently forbidden in Germany in the renewable energy Law (EEG).
Read the article in English here.
Find the Federal Grid Agency’s press release in German here.
Investments in new coal plants “won’t pay off” at today’s price levels, RWE’s new CEO Rolf Martin Schmitz said in an interview with Berliner Morgenpost. Asked whether the major German utility would continue to build conventional power plants after channelling its renewable energy business into the green spin-off innogy, Schmitz gave a pessimistic outlook for coal but said that “things are different for gas.” However, the question of continuing investment in conventional power plants was “currently not on the table” for RWE, he added.
For more information about the challenges for Germany’s leading energy providers, see the CLEW dossier Utilities and the energy transition.
manager magazin / dpa
E.ON is putting together a team of banks and lawyers to support the utility in case of a hostile takeover attempt, according to a report by news agency dpa carried by website manager magazine. A company spokesperson said a “defence mandate” of this kind was standard procedure for listed companies. The news report says E.ON could have become relatively easy prey for hedge funds, because its market capitalisation has shrunk to 12 billion euros.
Read the article in German here.