17 Jan 2017, 00:00
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Coal exit needed by 2035 - WWF / Russian gas supply soars

For Germany to meet the Paris Climate Agreement targets, a phase out of coal-fired power generation must be complete by 2035 and the oldest facilities shut down as soon as 2019, according to a study by the Institute for Applied Ecology (Öko-Institut) and Prognos, commissioned by WWF. “Germany has a coal problem that must not be put off any further,” Christoph Heinrich, board member at WWF said in a press release. “The good news: By shutting down the oldest and often dirtiest power plants fast, modern facilities have more time. This way, structural breaks in the affected regions can be minimised and the costs of the Energiewende kept low,” Heinrich said. The German power sector has a remaining CO₂ budget of 4 billion tonnes, according to the study. Open pit lignite mines must be closed sooner than envisaged. To supplement the coal phase out, grid expansion and the development of renewables must be accelerated, and Germany’s large export surpluses from CO₂-intensive electricity generation reduced, according to the study.

WWF roadmap for a German coal phase out by 2035. Source - WWF 2017.

Find the press release in German here and the full study with a summary in English here.

For background read the CLEW article Environment agency shows options for halving coal emissions by 2030 and the CLEW factsheet When will Germany finally ditch coal? 


Russian supplier Gazprom’s natural gas exports to Germany were at a record high in 2016 at 49.8 billion cubic metres, compared to 45.3 billion cubic metres in 2015, Vladimir Soldatkin and Jack Stubbs report for Reuters. The company currently supplies around a third of Europe’s gas, the article says. “That has raised concern in Europe that the region is too reliant on Russian gas.”

Read the article in English here.

For background read the CLEW article Little headway in 2016 for Germany’s energy transition - think tank and the CLEW factsheet Germany’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.

Handelsblatt Global Edition

German utility innogy will assist the country’s telecommunication heavyweight Telekom in expanding its broadband internet access, Ina Karabasz and Jürgen Flauger write in Handelsblatt Global Edition. Initially reluctant to rely on partners to develop high-speed internet across the country, Telekom’s turn to utility RWE’s renewable spinoff signals a strategic shift for the former telecom state monopoly, they say. According to the authors, innogy’s grid covers almost a quarter of Germany and provides electricity to more than 9 million customers, while Telekom services around 40 percent of the country’s broadband market.

Read the article in English here.

Spiegel Online

By banning private diesel cars from the inner city, Oslo has done what German municipalities do not dare to do, Claus Hecking writes on Spiegel Online. The controversial diesel ban is the first of its kind in the often smog-ridden Norwegian capital, Hecking says. Many cities around the world are experimenting with strict traffic regulations to bring down pollution levels, while Germany still struggles to agree on the legal basis for cities to do so, Hecking writes. Still, while Norway is very successful at promoting the use of e-cars via tax cuts and preferential parking rights, it endorsed the purchase of allegedly eco-friendly diesel cars only around 10 years ago, leading many of its citizens to buy a car that now will be banned from the capital, he adds. According to Hecking, around 45 percent of all private cars in the Oslo metropolitan area, with its almost 2 million inhabitants, run on diesel.

Read the article in German here.

For background on the Energiewende and car emissions, read the CLEW dossier on The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector.

Tageszeitung (taz)

The latest figures published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) refute US president-elect Donald Trump’s claim that solar power is particularly expensive, Bernhard Pötter writes in leftist daily taz. According to the IRENA report “REthinking Energy 2017” released over the weekend, modern solar parks can offer power at 3 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), comparable to the price of coal-fired power, Pötter writes. Without subsidies, several renewable energy sources, such as onshore wind and hydropower, are even cheaper than coal, oil or natural gas plants despite low fossil fuel prices, he adds. According to a study by German energy think tank Agora Energiewende*, a near-complete shift towards renewables by 2050 is likely to make power in Germany even cheaper than under a scenario without any further renewables expansion, Pötter adds.

For more information on costs of the energy transition, read the CLEW dossier Energiewende effects on power prices, costs and industry and the CLEW factsheet What German households pay for power.

*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.

pv magazine

German battery manufacturer Sonnen is the first small & medium enterprise to win the 1.5 million-dollar Zayed Future Energy Prize. The annual award has become one of the most prestigious in the cleantech industry. Sonnen called the prize the “Oscar of the energy world”.

Read the article in English here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier New technologies for the Energiewende.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

German farmers show a willingness to put more effort into protecting the climate and resources in a position paper by German Farmer’s Association (DBV), writes Henrike Roßbach for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “Cultivation must not lead to harm” to the environment, climate, water or air, DBV’s president Joachim Rukwied told the newspaper. “We have homework to do. Deterioration is not acceptable,” said Rukwied. The position paper, seen by Roßbach, will be presented on Wednesday.

For background read the CLEW dossier Bioenergy in Germany.

Environmental Progress

Emissions in Germany have increased for two consecutive years due to the decommissioning of the country’s nuclear power plants, pro-nuclear organisation Environmental Progress writes. “German emissions would have declined had it not closed a nuclear plant and replaced it with coal and natural gas,” says author Michael Shellenberger. According to Shellenberger, newly installed solar and wind capacities were insufficient to make up for capacity lost in the course of Germany’s nuclear phase-out, largely because of last year’s unfavourable weather conditions. 2016 has been “a dramatic illustration of the limits of energy sources that depend on the weather,” he writes.

Read the article in English here.

For background, read the CLEW article German carbon emissions rise in 2016 despite coal use drop and the CLEW article Little headway in 2016 for Germany’s energy transition.

Find more information in the CLEW dossier The challenges of Germany's nuclear phase-out.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The Philippsburg nuclear power plant’s second generating unit near the German city of Karlsruhe will stay offline longer than planned, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reports. According to a spokesperson of Baden-Württemberg’s federal state government, the unit will not be in operation before the end of March. An analysis carried out by the inspecting authority revealed a faulty emergency cooling system, meaning the plant would not be secure in the event of a major shock such as a plane crash, the article explains. Philippsburg’s first generating unit was decommissioned in March 2011, shortly after Germany’s decision to speed up its nuclear exit. The second generating unit is slated for decommissioning in late 2019.

Read more about Germany’s nuclear exit in the CLEW dossier The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out.

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