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04 Oct 2018, 13:03
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann

Diesel deal a "rotten compromise" / Costly coal plant retrofits loom

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The government’s diesel deal will not tame the anger of diesel drivers because only one in 10 are likely to be offered incentives to trade in their old car against a more recent model, writes Holger Steltzner in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “Politicians and carmakers have both ruined the good reputation of Germany’s key industry, and therefore also the leadership in diesel technology,” writes Steltzner. Even though a new generation of diesel cars promises to be clean and the technology could help to lower CO2 emissions, “diesel no longer has a future”.

Read the commentary in German here.

Find background in the article Germany’s ‘huge step’ to solve diesel crisis leaves NGOs unconvinced.

Handelsblatt

Car drivers, politicians and the car industry itself all fell for the diesel engine’s supposed fuel efficiency but were deceived, because making them clean with expensive hardware retrofits will push up fuel consumption, writes Martin Murphy in a commentary in Handelsblatt. “Given the financial liability for the industry and clients, and the non-existent environmental advantages, the diesel is obsolete. Carmakers would be well advised to draw the obvious conclusion and transfer the money for its development into other areas.”

Read the commentary in German here.

Find background in the article Germany’s ‘huge step’ to solve diesel crisis leaves NGOs unconvinced and the dossier BMW, Daimler, and VW vow to fight in green transport revolution.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

The government’s “huge step” to solve the diesel crisis is no more than a “big bluff,” writes Markus Balser in an editorial in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The diesel deal falls far short of what is necessary to solve “one of the country’s largest health and environmental problems”, because hardware retrofits could take years and the financing remains unclear, according to Balser. “Three years after the start of the emissions scandal, it has become clear that special rules still apply to the German car industry” with its “undiminished power.” Balser also argues that the big deal could become a dirty deal because the government assumes that old diesel cars swapped against newer ones will continue to run in other countries, where emission limits are less strict.

Read the commentary in German here.

Find background in the article Germany’s ‘huge step’ to solve diesel crisis leaves NGOs unconvinced.

Tagesspiegel Background

The German government has agreed to implement a decision by the European Commission on emission limits for power plants and industry facilities by 2021, meaning that many coal plants will have to undergo costly retrofitting, Jakob Schlandt writes in energy policy newsletter Tagesspiegel Background. “Energy company RWE alone is looking at figures surpassing 100 million euros and total costs could be in the billions,” Schlandt says. About two-thirds of coal plants in Germany exceed EU emission limits. According to Hanns Koenig of consultancy Aurora Energy Research, retrofitting is still more economical for most plants than decommissioning. However, Green Party co-leader Annalena Baerbock called for the issue to be included in the general debate over Germany’s coal exit.

See the factsheet Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions and climate targets for more information.

pv magazine

The quarrels in Germany’s coal exit commission over a proposed end date for coal-fired power production in 2038 will continue to weigh on the country’s reputation as a progressive energy transition advocate, Thorsten Preuschgas, CEO at solar power project developer Soventix, says in a guest article in pv magazine. The end date proposed by Ronald Pofalla, the government’s chief negotiator, has angered environmental organisations and energy companies alike and is not ambitious enough to provide any meaningful contribution to reaching Germany’s climate targets. “The proposal is just meant to buy more time. But time only helps the coal industry,” Preuschgas argues.

Read the article in German here.

For background, read the CLEW article Germany’s coal commission insists no decision yet on exit date and the coal commission watch.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Energy company RWE plans to dig a ditch around the embattled Hambach Forest to prevent anti-coal protesters from entering the area, the Süddeutsche Zeitung writes. An RWE spokesperson said work on the ditch had already begun but added that it was not intended to be a fully fledged safety system but rather a physical demarcation of the company’s premises. A court ruling says that fencing an area is a precondition for suing trespassers, according to the report.

Read the article in German here.

See CLEW’s Commission watch for regular updates on Germany’s coal exit planning.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Wind turbines in Germany should not be illuminated throughout the whole night as this would gravely impede the acceptance of wind power by local residents, the conservative CDU’s deputy parliamentary group leader Carsten Linnemann told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “I expect that all turbines are converted to radar technology, which ensures that they are only illuminated if airplanes are approaching,” Linnemann said. A parliamentary commission recently decided that wind power’s acceptance had to be increased, as additional auctions for wind and solar power to improve Germany’s climate action record mean that more turbines are going to soon be built across the country. 

For background, read the CLEW factsheet Fighting windmills: When growth hits resistance.

Welt Online

Germany’s additional auctions for wind and solar power have been planned too late to have a meaningful impact on the country’s climate action record or on the smooth expansion of renewable capacity in the country, Daniel Wetzel writes in an opinion piece for Welt Online. “Of course, the roughly 1,380 additional turbines are nevertheless going to be built,” he says. The government wanted to make good on a mistake in the design of auction rules that risked causing a sudden plunge in wind power expansion by issuing additional auctions of 2,000 megawatt (MW) in 2019 and 2020, but this “compensation” could only have worked had it taken effect before this year’s summer break because planning and construction takes too long to bear results soon, Wetzel says.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW article Minister promises stability for troubled German wind power sector for more information.

Unearthed

The German government has been fighting for weaker EU climate targets, car emission standards and coal pollution rules, writes Zach Boren for the Greenpeace journalism project Unearthed. “The widely reported fight for the [Hambach] forest may be the German government’s most visible move to defend fossil fuels, but behind the scenes it has been quietly taking a number of positions at odds with the country’s Energiewende-inspired green rhetoric,” according to Boren.

Read the article in English here.

Handelsblatt Global

The dual phase-out of nuclear and coal power in Germany means the country has to increasingly rely on natural gas to complement its power production from renewable sources but unlike other major European countries, the world’s second largest gas importer does not possess its own liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal for gas shippings, James Byrne and Maximilian Scheunemann write in an opinion piece in Handelsblatt Global. Imports arrive almost exclusively via pipelines from Russia, Norway and the Netherlands, but “this is detrimental for both energy security and the German consumer, who would benefit from increased competition in the gas market”, they say. Global LNG trade is set to grow fast, the authors argue, and greater variety in supply must be a vital interest for German policymakers.

Read the article in English here.

For background, see the CLEW factsheet Gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 links Germany to Russia, but splits Europe, and the dossier The role of gas in Germany's energy transition.

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