The creeping end of coal? / Carmakers' "clever moves"
Germany will inevitably scrap coal-fired power production even though the move has not yet been officially announced, Klaus Stratmann writes in Handelsblatt. Coal-fired generating units with an installed capacity of 4,772 megawatts – the equivalent of five nuclear power plants - have been slated for decommission in 2016, according to figures from the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), Stratmann explains. “Politics is being outpaced by reality,” he writes, referring to a suggestion by the energy think tank Agora Energiewende* according to which the last coal-fired power plant will be shut down in about 2038 if 2016 trends continued.
Read the article in German here (behind paywall).
*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.
The Detroit Car Show is testimony to the close alliances forged between carmakers and IT companies in order to beat Google, report Max Hägler, Claus Hulverscheidt and Joachim Becker in Süddeutsche Zeitung. BMW is cooperating with Intel and Israeli sensor specialist Mobileye; BMW, Audi, Mercedes and Intel have forged the Here mapping service alliance; and German carmakers also have agreed to join forces to set up a European fast-charging network. “Until now, everybody thought Google was setting the standards, but that’s not the case,” industry expert Gabriel Seiberth at business consultancy Accenture told the authors. He said the carmakers have loosened their dependency on Google through a number of recent “very clever moves”. An unnamed German car manager said: “We can build an iPhone if we try hard. But they can’t mass-produce a good car.”
For background, read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.
German premium carmakers BMW, Daimler and Audi compete with each other on car sales year after year, writes Thomas Fromm in a commentary in Süddeutsche Zeitung. “The premium crown, sales records, pure size – carmakers have got so much used to these units in past decades they simply can’t shake them off.” But industry success in the future will be measured by what the cars are made of, not by how many are sold, he writes.
Read the commentary in German here.
Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW)
Progress in modernising Germany’s buildings to save energy is slow partly because of a confusing array of available support, according to a study by the Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW). “At present, the country boasts 3,350 support schemes to conserve energy in buildings. To advance the Energiewende, the system urgently needs simplifying,” the IW states in a press release. “Many schemes simply don’t reach the market,” explains IW real estate expert Ralph Henger.
Find the press release in German here.
For background, read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and Efficiency.
Politicians in the Eastern German state of Thuringia have called on the federal government to align power prices across the country, Thüringer Allgemeine reports. Federal economy minister Sigmar Gabriel’s backtracking on plans to standardise electricity grid fees nationwide came as a “bad surprise”, Thuringia’s economy minister Wolfgang Tiefensee said according to the newspaper. While most of the Energiewende’s expenses, such as the renewable surcharge, were “naturally” distributed among national consumers, the “unfair” cost distribution of grid expansion among Eastern Germans would be “cemented” if Gabriel pushed through with his plans, Tiefensee explained.
Read the article in German here (behind paywall).
A global surge of trade restrictions and protectionism could derail Germany’s efforts in climate protection, Heinz Jürgen Schürmann writes in a commentary for Handelsblatt. “Global interconnection is indispensable for a successful limitation of CO2-emissions,” Schürmann writes. International management was needed to ensure that an appropriate and efficient price for the “usage of the formerly free good ‘atmosphere’” is found, he explains. Globally coordinated climate protection does not have to be an “illusion” if countries see gains from collaboration, and a CO2-price system encompassing important emitters is tested in the next years, Schürmann writes.
Federation of German Industries
Germany should use its public budget surplus for preventative investments in transmission grids, transportation infrastructure and other areas, the Federation of German Industries (BDI) writes in a press release. Investments that could “prepare for hard times” are currently possible “without raising taxes or neglecting the restructuring of public budgets”, according to the BDI. The federation, which estimates German GDP growth to reach about 1.5 percent in 2017, regards these investments as key for ensuring the country’s continued economic well-being. In the context of energy transition, there needed to be greater emphasis on cost efficiency in order to make it an “export hit”, BDI’s president Dieter Kempf said in the press release.
Read the press release in German here.
For background, see the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s power grid.
The rapid and ubiquitous advance of digitalisation threatens municipal utilities’ traditional business models purely based on power, gas and water supply, writes Frank-Thomas Wenzel in a feature article in Mitteldeutsche Zeitung. “Amazon, but also Google, Microsoft, and Apple want to push with all their might into the business of so-called smart home applications,” writes Wenzel. “This makes them direct rivals of municipal utilities.”
Read the article in German here.
Find background in the CLEW factsheet Small, but powerful – Germany’s municipal utilities.