19 Sep 2019, 13:19
Benjamin Wehrmann

E-mobility and wind power auctions suffer from flawed competition – German Monopolies Commission

Clean Energy Wire

The German Monopolies Commission has warned that the breakthrough of electric cars and the expansion of onshore wind power in the country both suffer from a lack of competition that brings about inefficiencies and delays. "We see competition flaws in the auctions for onshore wind turbines and in the build-up of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles that could jeopardise the energy transition's success," said Achim Wambach, head of the government advisory committee that acts as a watchdog for competition law and regulation. It its 2019 sector report on energy markets, the commission said that municipalities seeking to install charging infrastructure ought to make sure to foster competition between different operators. The biggest supplier in each region on average operated more than half of all charging columns, meaning that a lack of choice could result in higher prices and impede the spread of e-cars. Regarding onshore wind power auctions, which repeatedly failed to attract enough bidders to match the auctioned volumes, the commission said more land area and quicker licensing are needed to ensure that competition in this key energy transition technology is stimulated again. "If this fails, the auctioned volume should be adjusted to the limited availability of area and licenses in order to re-establish a functioning price competition."

Sluggish charging infrastructure expansion is seen as a major reason for the reluctance among many Germans to switch to an electric vehicle. While Germany has so far failed to meet its national targets for the rollout of e-cars, the country’s biggest carmakers now all have ambitious plans to ramp up output and sales of electric vehicles in the 2020s, which could lead to an estimated demand of up to four million charging points. Meanwhile, the expansion of onshore wind power in Germany has fallen to the lowest level in almost two decades, putting key energy transition targets at risk. At a national wind power summit, energy ministers from the federal government and from Germany's states promised a set of legal reforms to get expansion levels back on track.

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