Dieselgate risk to German economy -ministry / Grid fit for e-car boom?
Finance ministry / Reuters
The German finance ministry sees the car emissions scandal as a risk to the country’s economy, reports Reuters in an article carried by The Guardian. “Given the importance of the automotive industry [the diesel crisis] must be classified in the medium term as a risk to the overall economic development,” writes the ministry in its monthly report. “Risks linked to how Brexit will shape out and future US trade policies remain. In addition, the so-called diesel crisis must be classified as a new risk to the German economy, without its effects being concretely assessable at the moment,” writes the ministry.
Find background in the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers and the CLEW factsheet "Dieselgate" - a timeline of Germany's emissions fraud scandal.
dpa / General-Anzeiger
The power grid in southern German states Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg is not ready to cope with a large increase of electric vehicles, news agency dpa says in an article carried by website General-Anzeiger online. Industry experts estimate that the higher electricity demand associated with an increased use of e-cars – up to 25 percent more in Bavaria – and also heat pumps will boost the grid’s peak loads while power production in southern German states is falling, the article says. Once Germany’s last nuclear plant ceases operation in 2022, power demand in the region might decisively exceed supply, local utility representatives argue. Furthermore, the power transmission highways that are meant to transport northern Germany’s surplus wind power to the south will not be finished before 2025, the article says.
Find the article in German here.
See the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s power grid for background.
The diesel emissions fraud scandal has given impetus to calls for a swift transition to electric cars in Germany, but despite great technological progress, the technology continues to be too expensive and impractical to replace conventional cars, Christian Wüst writes in Der Spiegel. Driving at the recommended maximum speed of 130 kilometres per hour on German highways greatly reduces the range even of advanced e-car models, such as those made by US manufacturer Tesla, and increasing the capacity of charging stations to significantly reduce the time needed for refilling a battery would put immense strain on the grid and Germany’s power production, Wüst says. “Germans would consume a great part of their fruits harvested with the Energiewende with e-cars alone,” Wüst argues, adding that this would not even include the massive energy needs of battery cell production. However, Jochen Hermann, engineer at carmaker Daimler, says no German company would turn away from e-cars anymore. “For a lack of a better idea”, Wüst adds.
With her remarks on the “right approach” of banning combustion engine cars sometime in the future, German Chancellor Angela Merkel not only “captured an election topic for herself”, but also “disposed of the strongest dissent with the Green Party for a possible coalition after the elections”, writes Markus Balser in Süddeutsche Zeitung. However, in a letter to Merkel, seen by Süddeutsche, Green Party frontrunners Cem Özdemir and Katrin Göring-Eckardt criticise the government for being “much too hesitant” with the transport transition and call on the chancellor to “bring her policy in line with her rhetorical targets”, writes Balser.
Read the article in German here.
For background, read the CLEW factsheet The debate over an end to combustion engines in Germany and the 2017 federal elections dossier.
Many industry observers in Germany warn that a mandatory e-car quota equals a “planned economy” and violates free market rules, “but it seems that the free market economy does not know where to go from here either”, Thomas Fricke writes in a column for Spiegel Online. The quota proposed by the Social Democrats’ (SPD) frontrunner for chancellor, Martin Schulz, indeed amounted to state intervention for Germany’s economy, Fricke says. “But there are few cases of great technological innovation in history in which the state did not have at least some degree of influence,” he argues. Initial investments often were too high for private companies as profits are not guaranteed with new products, which in the case of the e-car could be seen with the lacking investments in charging infrastructure, Fricke says.
Read the column in German here.
See the CLEW factsheet on The debate over and end to combustion engines in Germany for background.
Germany’s coal states are calling on the federal government to prevent stricter emissions limits for coal-fired power plants by taking legal action against the EU Commission, writes public broadcaster rbb in an article. A spokesperson for Saxony’s government confirmed reports by German weekly Der Spiegel that the state’s premier, Stanislaw Tillich (CDU), had written a letter to the federal economy ministry, also on behalf of his colleagues in Brandenburg, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony-Anhalt. New emissions limits in EU regulations were based on false calculations and were thus not lawful, the states argue. Germany had opposed the introduction of the stricter limits in April.
Read the article in German here.
The Left Party in the state of Brandenburg has joined its government coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), in abandoning the ambitious climate targets which they had agreed on in 2014, dealing a new blow to Germany’s climate policy, report Markus Balser and Jens Schneider in Süddeutsche Zeitung. It would have been impossible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 72 percent by 2030, the Left Party wrote in an internal note, seen by Süddeutsche. “Those are the numbers. We can’t escape this fact,” state parliamentary group head Ralf Christoffers told Süddeutsche. The Left Party had initially contradicted comments made by economy minister Albrecht Gerber (SPD) that the state would reduce its 2030 climate protection targets.
Read the article in German here.
For background, read the CLEW dossier The energy transition and climate change.
Handelsblatt Global Edition
Blockchain data processing technology is constantly seeping into the business practices of “virtually every publicly-listed company” in Germany as it makes transactions more efficient and secure, Stefan Hajek writes in Handelsblatt Global Edition. The technology that started out in the financial sector and which uses large numbers of private computers to record information on single transactions has also gained popularity in Germany’s energy sector, in which more than a third of renewable power production comes from private small-scale producers, Hajek says. A technology that “eliminates the need for a middleman” and adds transparency to transactions of money and power may therefore improve the management of the increasingly complex German energy system, he argues.
Read the article in English here (behind paywall).
See the CLEW factsheet Blockchain – the next revolution in the energy sector for more information.
Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences
The Mediterranean island of Mallorca could serve as a gateway for Germans and other tourists to get first-hand experience with electric cars, according to a study by the Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences. Mallorca, the most popular holiday island for Germans, provides good conditions for e-cars thanks to its relatively small size, “which allows it to be explored almost completely with only one charging of the battery in spite of the still relatively limited range”, the university said in a press release. In a survey of tourists conducted by university students, 76 percent of respondents said they would consider renting an e-car instead of a conventional vehicle during their stay. Renting an e-car during a holiday “could reduce prejudices and potentially increase acceptance”, the press release said. However, there currently are just about 100 e-cars available for rent on the Spanish island, a mere 0.15 percent of all rental cars in Mallorca, and the charging infrastructure to date remains very limited, it added.
Find the press release in German here.