03 Apr 2017, 00:00
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann

"Death by instalments" for coal? / More commuters than ever before

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The decision by Czech mining company EPH, the new owner of eastern German lignite-mine operator LEAG, to cut back its extension plans for the Lusatia region might provide local actors with “some planning security” but is “without a doubt a step towards Germany’s coal phase-out”, Andreas Mihm writes in a commentary for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Resisting a phase-out would prolong the industry’s future in the country “for a few years at most”, he argues. EPHmade a rational decision”, but it was now up to politicians to come up with a rational programme for structural change in Lusatia, Mihm writes.

See the CLEW article New owner scraps plans to expand east German lignite mine for more information.


Conventional power plants that run on coal, gas, and nuclear energy are a fundamental part of Germany’s energy transition, Lars Kulik, board member at utility RWE’s lignite branch, writes in a guest article for financial market newspaper Börsen-Zeitung. Echoing earlier remarks by RWE CEO Rolf Martin Schmitz, Kulik says the volatility of renewable energy supply by wind and solar power plants made flexible coal plants “irreplaceable for supply security” in the coming decades.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW factsheets When will Germany finally ditch coal? And How can Germany keep the lights on in a renewable energy future? for background.

Welt am Sonntag

The dwindling profitability of coal power plants brings financial difficulties for many municipalities in Germany’s most populated region, the Ruhr area in North Rhine-Westphalia, Guido M. Hartmann writes in Welt am Sonntag. Municipal utilities from Dortmund, Essen, and other major cities in the region bought energy provider STEAG a few years ago for 1.2 billion euros, when “good money could be made with coal power plants”, Hartmann writes. “But times have changed,” he says, explaining that the shrunk dividend from coal power deprives municipalities of a way to balance write-offs in other sectors, such as the expensive maintenance of public transport systems.

See the CLEW factsheet Small but powerful – Germany’s municipal utilities for more information.

Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR)

The number of commuters has risen to an all-time high in Germany, according to an analysis by the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR). Sixty percent of all employees commute to work, compared to 53 percent in 2000. On average, employees now live almost 17 kilometres away from their place of work, compared to 14.6 kilometres at the start of the millennium.

Find the press release in German here.

Find background in the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector.

Rheinische Post

Germany has ramped up its budget for bicycle lanes from 60 million to 100 million euros per year, Rheinische Post reports. In 2017, 25 million euros will for the first time be exclusively devoted to “small bicycle highways” that allow cyclists to reach their destination “much quicker without traffic lights and intersections”, Norbert Barthle, state secretary in the Federal Ministry of Transport (BMVI), told the newspaper. The bicycle has experienced a “boom in Germany”, as people started to view them as an “alternative to the car in traffic jams or overcrowded regional trains”, Barthle added.

See the article in German here.

See the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector for more information.


Stuttgart, the city where the automobile was born, has the dirtiest air in Germany and is threatened by a global drive to electric vehicles, reports John Vidal in the Observer. Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Bosch and many other major auto suppliers are based in the city, “but all the social, technological and political trends point to a rapid demise of the polluting internal combustion engine, the coming of electric cars and the end to German car dominance”, writes Vidal.

Read the article in English here.

Find background in the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.

Stuttgarter Zeitung

The government of Germany’s most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia has strongly rejected bans on older diesel cars to improve air quality in polluted cities. “Diesel bans should be banned,” the region’s Social Democrat (SPD) transport minister Michael Groschek told Stuttgarter Zeitung. “It would punish those who bet in good faith on the diesel engine, which saves CO2 emissions.” He added: “Politicians and industry have made Germany the world’s largest turbo diesel fan club.” The state’s inhabitants will elect a new regional government on 14 May.

Die Welt

Hannelore Kraft, premier and social democratic frontrunner in Germany’s most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), has criticised German chancellor Angela Merkel’s approach to energy policy, Kristian Frigelj writes in Die Welt. Kraft said she and her fellow SPD members had fought “against Merkel’s stop-go with the nuclear exit, against the aimless energy transition” while looking out for industry and energy-intensive companies, he writes. Merkel’s “seesaw gang must not be allowed to govern our country”, Kraft added. Elections in NRW, where Kraft faces Merkel’s fellow Christian Democrat Armin Laschet, will take place in May and are seen as an important bellwether for Germany’s federal elections in September.

Read the article in German here.

For background, see the CLEW dossier Vote2017 – German elections and the Energiewende.

Handelsblatt Online

Germany’s dominant utilities invest heavily in the digitalisation of the sector, reports Bernward Janzing for Handelsblatt Online. The rising share of intermittent renewables in Germany’s power mix, the desire to increase efficiency, as well as the roll-out of smart meters in households, require highly complex IT systems that offer newcomers a unique chance to establish a foothold in the sector. According to the IT industry, companies specialising in digital energy solutions in Germany enjoy a competitive edge on international markets thanks to the Energiewende’s progress, reports Janzing.

Find the article in German here.

Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)

German utilities RWE and EnBW are not well prepared for the transition to a low-carbon future when compared their European peers, according to an analysis by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). Austrian Verbund, Spanish Iberdrola and Finnish Fortum are best prepared for a world which implements the Paris Climate Agreement. In the ranking of 14 of the largest publicly listed power generators in Europe, EnBW comes in 11th position and RWE last.

Find a summary of the CDP analysis entitled “Charged or static” in English here.

Frankfurter Rundschau

Wind power analysts believe prices for offshore power generation in Germany are going to drop significantly in the near future, Jörg Staude writes in Frankfurter Rundschau. Swedish energy provider Vattenfall’s award of a contract to build the offshore park “Kriegers Flak” in the Danish North Sea for 4.99 cents per kilowatt hour caused a stir in the industry, but a “substantial learning and therefore cost curve” traversed by producers means that lower prices will become the new standard, Andreas Wagner from the German Offshore-Wind Energy Foundation told the newspaper. A greater number of, and better performances by, turbines will bring down the price of offshore wind power. But Germany’s complicated provisions for the sector in the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) prevent prices from falling to the Danish level, Staude explains.

Read the article in German here.


Power consumption in Germany can differ substantially from region to region, price comparison website Check24 said in a press release. “Families from the Saarland consume 25 percent more power than families from Saxony,” the website says, adding that power consumption in eastern Germany generally was nine percent lower than in the country’s western part. This could be due to the fact that average power costs in the east are higher while at the same time typical apartments are smaller, the press release says. A German household with four people on average consumed 4,634 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity in the past 12 months, according to Check24.

See the press release in German here.

For more information, see the CLEW factsheet Germany’s energy consumption and power mix in charts.

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
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