11 Sep 2018, 13:07
Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Cost sharing helps Energiewende's acceptance - study / RWE meets NGOs

Please note: The news item on the meeting between RWE and NGOs erroneously stated that the encounter would still take place. However, it took place on 10 September 2018.

Nature Energy / RWI

The more equally power costs are allocated among the population, the more willing German power customers are to finance the changes associated with the energy transition, a study conducted by the research institute RWI and published in the Nature Energy magazine has found. “Reducing […]  inequity in cost burden substantially raises households’ willingness to pay for green electricity,” the authors say, arguing that the “far-reaching” exemptions from costs arising from the energy transition for many German companies makes the average power customer less content with footing the Energiewende bill. Participants in a survey, who were told that these exemptions were going to be abandoned once the next rise in renewables support takes effect, were much more inclined to accept increased costs than those in a control group where no end to the exemptions had been announced, the RWI explains in a press release. “The attitude towards the energy transition does not only depend on the power price,” author Manuel Frondel says. “If the burden is shared equally, many people are ready to pay more for renewable power,” he argues, adding that this finding may have far-reaching implications for policymaking, for example by replacing the renewables surcharge with a tax-based support scheme.

Find the article in English here (paywall).  

See the CLEW factsheets What German households pay for power and How much does Germany’s energy transition cost? for more information.

Spiegel Online / Greenpeace

German energy company RWE and environmental organisations have met to discuss the situation in the embattled Hambach Forest that energy company RWE wants to cut down to make room for a nearby coal mine, reports Spiegel Online. RWE head Rolf Martin Schmitz met with representatives from Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND), Greenpeace and Deutscher Naturschutzring to ensure that protests in the forest do not turn violent, Spiegel Online has learned.
In a separate press statement, Greenpeace said the meeting with RWE ended without an agreement. "For us, the meeting was about emphasising to the company RWE its societal responsibility, and the possibilities for a positive solution. Currently, this is blocked by the uncompromising stance of the company," said Greenpeace managing director and member of the coal commission Martin Kaiser.
Several members of Germany’s coal exit commission have said that the mine expansion should be put on hold until the commission has finished its negotiations over the management of the country’s coal exit. The commission’s leaders, however, maintain that dealing with the situation at the Hambach Forest is not part of the body’s mandate.

Find the article in German here.

See CLEW's Commission watch for updates on the coal commission's work.


Fears of a surge in support for the right-wing populist party AfD must not influence the speed of Germany’s coal exit, Berlin’s Green energy senator Ramona Pop says in a reply to Brandenburg’s state premier Dietmar Woidke, published in the Tagesspiegel. SPD politician Woidke had said a quick end to coal-fired power production could result in rising support for the AfD especially in the eastern German coal region of Lusatia, which partly lies in Brandenburg, but Pop says this argument is “factually wrong and also dishonest.” She argues that structural economic problems in coal regions have been building up for years and postponing the end of coal would only worsen the situation. “Pointing at the rise of right-wing populists is just an attempt to discredit necessary modernisation policies,” Pop says, adding that Brandenburg’s government merely tried to divert attention from the fact that it has done little to manage the economic transition in the region. “The right-wing populists’ alleged recipe for success is to not even try to find answers to difficult questions,” but rather to shift every objective debate to an emotional level. “A state premier must not play along with this strategy,” she says.

Read the opinion piece in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet Germany’s three lignite mining regions for background.


The modernisation and decarbonisation of Germany’s heating sector has enormous carbon emissions reduction potential that needs to be tapped more, the energy minister of the German coal state of Brandenburg, Albrecht Gerber, says in an article carried by the public broadcaster rbb24. “The energy transition is more than a power sector transition,” Gerber says, referring to the debate over the end of coal-fired power production in Germany. Heating accounts for more than half of Germany’s energy consumption, while power use only accounts for one fifth, Gerber says, stressing that the potential of geothermal energy should be explored more intensively.

Read the article in German here.

For background, see CLEW’s Commission watch – Managing Germany’s coal phase-out.


The proposal by the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment to tighten emissions limits for new vehicles begs for a clarification by the German government “whether it wants to protect the climate or the car industry,” environmental NGO VCD says in a press release. On 10 September, the EP committee voted for reducing the average CO2 emissions of new vehicles by 45 percent by 2030 – a target significantly higher than the 30 percent reduction proposed by the European Commission. In 2040, new cars should have zero emissions, the committee decided. While the VCD welcomed the committee’s proposal, it said that “more ambitious regulations are necessary to meet German and European climate goals,” proposing a reduction of 60 to 70 percent by 2030. The German environment ministry (BMU) had proposed a reduction of 50 percent, which according to the VCD would be “a minimum solution from a climate perspective” that is still opposed by German transport minister Andreas Scheuer and economy and energy minister Peter Altmaier.
In a sepearate press release, German industry association BDI says the environment committee "makes things easy for itself" by merely tightening emissions limits. "In order for e-mobility to find acceptance among citizens, policymakers still have to do much more," BDI deputy director Holger Lösch said. Germany's government had to find ways to better promote low-carbon vehicles by supporting the construction of charging infrastructure, tax breaks for e-cars and more support for other alternative engine technologies, Lösch said.

Find the press release in German here.

Find background in the news piece German government struggles to find common position on new EU climate targets for cars, and the article German environment ministry pushes for tougher EU car emission rules.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The state of South Australia wants to build the world’s largest network of connected home power storages and counts on German solar battery maker sonnen to deliver part of the infrastructure for the project that will encompass 40,000 households, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. The “virtual power plant,” consisting of thousands of individual batteries, will have a capacity of 150 megawatts (MW) and will receive about 60 million euros in support from the state’s government. sonnen will be the exclusive battery supplier during the project’s first nine weeks. After that, other battery makers will be able to submit bids in auctions for installing their own products.

See the CLEW interview on Germany’s home battery boom for background.

WWF Germany

The non-governmental Global Climate Action Summit in California brings together representatives of private companies and cities from around the world and adds pressure on the German government and the European Union to step up their efforts to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement, the environmental NGO WWF says in a press release. WWF Germany’s climate and energy expert Michael Schäfer says German Chancellor Angela Merkel cannot stick with her rejection of more ambitious EU climate goals, because Germany otherwise “gambles away its international credibility, its competitiveness, and risks its readiness for the future.” The least the government could do now was to implement its promises on climate made in the coalition agreement, namely introduce “tax support for building modernisation and the additional auctions for 8 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy by 2020.”

Find the press release in German here.

For background on the Katowice COP read the CLEW article Poland's Katowice COP: Next coal country hosting UN climate talks.

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