02 Feb 2016
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E-car incentives: 'Subsidy trap' or 'healthy shock'?

Süddeutsche Zeitung

“The government, the e-car and the subsidy trap”

Chancellor Angela Merkel would be well advised not to adopt a buyer’s premium for electric cars after her meeting with industry representatives today, writes Nikolaus Piper in a commentary for the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Proponents of an incentive of several thousand euros per car argue that the subsidy could jump-start domestic battery production, which is key for Germany’s economy because it relies heavily on the car industry. “But the question is: Why do the companies not enter this business of their own volition?” Piper argues there is a large risk the subsidy will be useless. He says the government should instead improve the conditions for investment, or help e-cars with a more limited approach, such as adding e-cars to public car fleets.

Read the article in German here.


manager magazine

“A buyer's premium is a healthy shock”

The arguments against a buyer's premium might all be correct in economic theory, but completely wrong in reality, because the incentive is urgently needed as a “self defence mechanism for industry and the environment,” argues Nils-Viktor Sorge in He says the world’s largest battery factory is being built in Nevada and not in Germany, partly because California and Washington offer large incentives for e-cars. A well-designed incentive could “herald the dawn of a new era for the automobile in Germany.” He argues Germany’s support system for renewable energies is a showcase for the momentous changes incentives can trigger.

Read the article in German here.


Corporate Europe Observatory

“Scandal-hit car industry in the driving seat for new emissions regulations”

Regardless of the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, the car industry continues to undermine Europe’s proposed new emissions test standards, according to Corporate Europe Observatory, a campaign group working to expose industry lobbying in EU policy making. “Volkswagen leads the charge for weaker regulations,” according to the Observatory. Documents obtained by the group reveal “just how close European car manufacturers were to the Commission” in crafting new test procedures and the “aggressive lobbying towards the Commission when it wasn’t giving in to the enormous loopholes now being voted on,” according to the Obseratory.   

Read the article in English here.

Please note: CLEW will publish a whole package on the transition to green transport this week. Find the first instalment, a factsheet on “Vague goals and modest strides” here.


Die Welt / dpa

“Daimler builds super-storage facility from Smart batteries”

Car manufacturer Daimler will use 3000 new battery modules from an old E-Smart model to build a giant power storage facility in Hanover, Die Welt reports. The batteries are kept “fresh” in the storage hub that will be used as a grid stabiliser. Both Daimler and the municipal utility of Hanover will invest around six million euros in the project.

Read the article in German here.


New Scientist

“Radioactive waste dogs Germany despite abandoning nuclear power”

The problems at a German salt mine where radioactive waste is stored are fuelling public distrust of long-time waste disposal plans, reports Fred Pearce in the New Scientist. The issue could take decades to resolve and is just one part of Germany’s “nuclear nightmare,” he says. “Germany may ultimately perform a service to the world if it can pioneer solutions that other nuclear countries may look to in the future, including the UK, which is struggling with its own waste legacy,” writes Pearce. “But if Germans ever thought that abandoning nuclear power would end their nuclear problems, they couldn’t have been more wrong.”

Read the article in English here.

Find a CLEW dossier on the issue of nuclear waste disposal here.


Süddeutsche Zeitung

“Thousands of cracks behind the dike”

Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands are worried about the safety of two Belgian nuclear power stations close to their borders, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports. Germany’s Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks met her Belgian counterpart Marie-Christine Marghem in Brussels and they agreed to put mutual checks of their nuclear facilities in place. Hendricks said she would have preferred that the reactors at Tihange 2 and Doel 3 not come online again after they were shut down because of small cracks in the pressure vessels. Marghem said that in the end, every country was acting according to its tradition and history. “We will be poisoned by the emissions from many German coal-fired power stations which will now run even longer, for many years to come,” she said.


The Guardian

“Germany leads Europe in offshore wind energy growth”

Germany has overtaken the UK in the rate at which it is installing wind turbines at sea, reports the Guardian. “While Britain connected 556 megawatts (MW) of offshore energy and the Netherlands 180 MW, Germany added a massive 2,282 MW,” in 2014, according to the article. “The UK still has the most installed offshore wind power in Europe, at 5,061 MW to Germany’s total of 3,295 MW," it says.  A spokesman for the European Wind Energy Association told the paper Germany had cleared a backlog from 2014 last year. “Germany will be a big offshore story towards 2020 certainly,” he said.

Read the article in English here.



“E.ON’s renewable investments surpass 10 billion euro mark”

A recent upgrade to North Sea offshore wind farm Amrumbank West from 288 to 302 megawatts pushed E.ON’s net investments in renewables above 10 billion euros, more than any other German energy company, E.ON said in a press release. The company said it recently advanced to number two worldwide in offshore wind. “The renewable energy generated by E.ON assets makes a substantial contribution to climate protection. E.ON’s green generation fleet has so far displaced the emission of more than 60 million metric tons of carbon, about as much as a major city like Berlin emits in six years,” according to the press release.

Read the press release in English here.

Find a CLEW dossier on the effect of Germany’s energy transition on its large utilities here.



“PV development in Germany 2015 under 1500 megawatts”

New data from the Federal Network Agency for December 2015 shows that 145 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic (PV) capacity were added at the end of the year. During the whole of last year, 1475.8 MW of solar PV capacity were built. These numbers might still be subject to change, as the Network Agency will take into account new data. But it is clear that PV development will remain under 1500 MW, meaning that the envisaged growth corridor of between 2400 and 2600 MW will be missed. According to information obtained by pv-magazine, four large PV installations that participated in the first year of auctions in 2015 have been completed so far.

Read the article in German here. Read a Montel news in English here.



“Sale of lignite operations on home stretch”

The sale of Vattenfall’s lignite and hydropower operations in Germany is entering the last stage, write Hans-Peter Siebenhaar and Klaus Stratmann in the Handelsblatt. As the due diligence process is underway, much points towards a future Czech ownership for Vattenfall’s mines and power plants in eastern Germany, the authors say. Energy companies CEZ and EPH from Prague are both interested.
In a separate Handelsblatt interview with CEZ Chairman Daniel Benes, Benes says that despite the energy transition, he believes coal-fired power plants will be running in Germany for quite a while as a bridging technology. In order to make Vattenfall’s lignite assets a safe investment, Germany’s government would have to come up with a reliable and transparent plan for the operation of coal plants up to 2040, Benes said. Looking at the drop in the wholesale power price, Benes doesn’t see any reason for optimism. Without any major changes, fossil power stations would not be economically viable anymore by 2020, he predicts.


Frankfurter Rundschau

“As if Paris had never happened”

Germany’s negotiators acted as pioneers and pushed for a very ambitious climate target at the Paris conference last year, but at home their ambition has faltered somewhat, writes Joachim Wille in the Frankfurter Rundschau. Making an effort to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as the Paris Agreement states, means Germany has to step up its efforts. Instead the government is sticking to its current climate action plan and no more. Reducing the country’s emissions by 80-95 percent by 2050 would not be enough to make the 1.5-degree limit, researcher Gunnar Ludar from the PIK says. Germany’s renewables development could contribute to reducing CO2 emissions, but instead of letting them grow as much as they could, energy minister Sigmar Gabriel (Social Democrat) and some economy-focused Christian Democrats want to put the brakes on renewables expansion, Wille writes.



Utility EnBW says cheap electricity puts pressure on fossil power generation

Because of the continuing fall in electricity prices, major utility EnBW has once again recognised high impairment losses on its power plants, according to a press release. The low prices place “increasing pressure on the economic viability of conventional generation, which will still continue to be indispensable for ensuring a secure supply of energy in Germany for a prolonged period of time,” said Thomas Kusterer, EnBW’s chief financial officer . “We do not see any signs of a recovery neither in the short nor medium term.”

Read the press release in English here.


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