16 May 2018, 00:00
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Coal commission timetable in question / More diesel than e-car patents


Even before the highly anticipated official launch of Germany’s coal exit task force, the government has given up on the commission’s timetable, Silke Kersting and Klaus Stratmann report for business daily Handelsblatt. During ongoing meetings on the commission’s composition, Economics and Energy Minister Peter Altmaier said it would conclude negotiations in spring 2019, contrary to the coalition treaty’s aim of presenting its results this year, unnamed participants in the meeting told Handelsblatt. “This increases the risk that the Climate Protection Act cannot be passed next year, because it is meant to be based on the commission’s findings,” the article says.
Green Party head Annalena Baerbock said the delay was an admission of failure by the government, adding that it revealed stark divisions over the coal exit within the coalition of Social Democrats (SPD) and Angela Merkel’s conservatives (CDU&CSU).

For more details, read the freshly updated article Germany gears up for official talks on coal phase-out.

Clean Energy Wire / German Bundestag

The highly anticipated task force on phasing out coal power – which will also tackle the phase-out of lignite mining – should follow the example of Germany’s hard coal exit, Chancellor Angela Merkel told parliament. The last German hard coal mine closed in 2018. “We managed it so that workers were able to cope with the changes,” Merkel said. “It was done together with them. That’s how it has to be with lignite as well.” The government should first ask what will become of the region and then cease mining, rather than setting an end date up front, the chancellor said.
Merkel’s speech was part of the ongoing three-day debate over the federal budget. The chancellor also said she was “happy” the car industry had started to rethink the possibility of battery cell production in Europe, a topic “that has occupied my mind for years.” Batteries account for about 40 percent of an e-car’s value and about another third comes from digital technology components, both of which largely take place in Asia and North America, respectively. “What part of value creation is left here in Europe?,” Merkel said. She added that Germany and the EU would supply the necessary “structural support” but called on the industry to also do its bit.

Find a video of the plenary session in German here.

For background, read the CLEW article Germany gears up for official talks on coal phase-out.

Frankfurter Rundschau

The Green Party and environmental NGOs have strongly criticised the government’s choice of leadership for the coal exit commission, Thorsten Knuf reports for Frankfurter Rundschau. The nomination of the former mining state premiers Matthias Platzeck, a Social Democrat, and Stanislaw Tillich, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, suggests the government has “already given up on climate protection before the launch of the commission,” Green head Annalena Baebrock told the newspaper. WWF climate expert Michael Schäfer said both men were proponents of a “coal policy that cannot be reconciled with German and international climate targets.”

For more details, read the freshly updated article Germany gears up for official talks on coal phase-out.


Germany must not enter a coal exit at the expense of power supply security and industrial competitiveness, according to Andreas Pinkwart, economy minister for the west German coal mining state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), and member of the pro-business party FDP. Pinkwart told business daily Handelsblatt the country’s energy transition was very expensive and had little environmental impact because of hasty decisions in the past. “We must not aggravate the situation now. It would be a grave mistake to exit coal at all costs,” he said. Instead of trying to close the gap to reaching its 2020 climate targets as much as possible, Germany should focus on European and international targets for 2030 and 2050, Pinkwart added. “It’s already a very ambitious goal for Germany to reach those targets and remain a country with strong and innovative industry that is competitive on an international level.”

Read the interview in German (behind paywall) here.

For more details, read the freshly updated article Germany gears up for official talks on coal phase-out and the dossier German industry embraces Energiewende transformation challenge.


The new German transport minister, Andreas Scheuer, has said he doesn’t like the concept “transport transition,” news agency Reuters reports. The German word “Verkehrswende," literally meaning ‘transport turnaround,’ describes a set of decarbonisation and efficiency-boosting measures in the sector and has been used analogously with “energy transition.” Scheuer said it indicates “that the wrong direction has been taken”, and that he favours a combination of “offers and incentives” over “bans and patronising” to achieve cleaner air and “good mobility.” “We don’t want to demonise the car,” Scheuer said.
Germany’s transport sector has not reduced its CO2 emissions since 1990 and the country’s car industry is embroiled in a far-reaching scandal over manipulated nitrogen oxide emissions levels from diesel cars.

Read the article in German here.

Find a CLEW profile of Scheuer here.

Aachener Nachrichten

Most new patents in Germany’s car sector in 2017 were registered for diesel and petrol engines, far outnumbering patents for electric vehicles, Hagen Strauß reports for the Aachener Nachrichten. German manufacturers registered 2,108 patents for combustion engines, up 15 percent on the previous year, while foreign companies registered a further 2,136 patents for combustion engines. Domestic patents for electric vehicles amounted to just 170, an increase of 22 percent, the article says. Combined with foreign patents, the figure rises to 467 e-mobility patents, only a little over a tenth of those for combustion engines. According to Germany’s patent office, many of the entries for combustion engines deal with emissions treatment and reducing the amount of nitrogen oxide in exhaust fumes – the central issue in the dieselgate scandal.

See the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers for background.

Weser Kurier

The German coastal city of Bremerhaven used to be a thriving centre for the offshore wind power but now struggles to hold on to the sector’s few remaining companies, Peter Hanuschke writes for the Weser Kurier. Bremerhaven once hosted about 3,000 jobs in the offshore wind industry. That number has fallen to 1,500 instead of reaching the 8,000 initially hoped for, Hanuschke says. Turbine manufacturer Senvion is the only major wind power company left in the city. Despite a rapid increase in the use of wind power worldwide, manufacturers are competing fiercely over prices, as guaranteed revenues for the sector are cut, putting pressure on smaller companies in particular. Germany’s coastal states have called on the federal government to lift a cap on offshore wind expansion to keep the industry stable.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW dossier Offshore wind power in Germany for background.


A project in Hamburg combines dozens of old e-car batteries to form a large power storage plant in the city’s industrial port, industry newspaper THB reports. Carmaker BMW, Bosch and energy company Vattenfall jointly operate the project, called Battery 2nd Life, which uses over 100 out-dated but still functioning car batteries to regulate the power grid. The plant can contribute about 2 megawatts (MW) of capacity to the 600 to 700 MW needed to keep Germany’s grid balanced when electricity supply and demand fluctuates, THB writes. The batteries are given an additional lifespan of 10 years before being retired for good.

Find the article in German here (paywall).

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