12 Aug 2016, 00:00
Kerstine Appunn Edgar Meza

"Efficiency first" principle to guide Energiewende / VW's e-car plans

Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)

The Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) has published a Green Paper on energy efficiency and today starts the consultation process to find solutions for the long term reduction of energy consumption in Germany. The ministry wants to discuss its 14 propositions on how Germany can become more energy efficient with civil society, other ministries and the EU commission until October. The Green Paper says that the 2050 ambitious efficiency targets are not achievable with the measures currently in place. Energy minister Sigmar Gabriel said that efficiency had a high priority because “energy that we’re saving is energy that we don’t have to produce, store, transport and pay for”. The Green Paper suggests making “efficiency first” the first rule for planning the energy transition. Recent figures were showing that economic growth and reduced energy consumption could go hand in hand, the ministry said in a press release. Sector coupling and digitalisation are part of the five fields of action established in the Green Paper.

Read the press release in German here and the Green Paper here.

Read a CLEW dossier on energy efficiency as part of the Energiewende.


Reducing the dependence on imported fossil fuels is one of the targets of German energy policy – but is the switch to an energy system based on domestic renewables the answer, ask researchers from the Ifo Institut, Center for Economic Studies, in an article. In the long term, the German energy transition can help to reduce Germany’s dependence on imported fossil fuels, particularly if excess electricity is stored as gas (power-to-gas). But at the same time imports of rare earths e.g. for PV installations or batteries may rise, the researchers write.

Find the article (behind pay-wall) in German here.

For more background see the CLEW factsheet on Germany’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.

The Economist

While generous subsidies have made Germany a clean power leader, helping to increase the country’s share of power generation from renewable sources from 3.6 percent in 1990 to 30 percent last year, the country continues to face challenges in implementing its ambitious energy transition, The Economist writes. Wind and solar is not enough to compensate for missing nuclear capacity, which has increased reliance on coal-fired plants. While the share of renewable energy is up, carbon emissions have not declined. German consumers have also been slow to embrace electric vehicles.

Read a CLEW factsheet on Germany's greenhouse gas emissions and climate targets.


Volkswagen AG is increasing its electric vehicle offerings and is looking to become the leader in China’s fast-growing e-car segment, Herbert Diess, VW’s passenger car brand chairman, said in an interview with Rebecca Eisert and Franz Rother in WirtschaftsWoche. Rejecting claims that VW was lagging behind in e-mobility, Diess said VW currently offers five electric models and had sold some 100,000 e-cars worldwide to date. The automaker has become the biggest seller in Norway, the world’s most developed electric car market, and it is looking to lead in China, which it expects to become the leading e-car market, Diess said. VW will unveil a new concept car in the coming weeks and introduce more e-cars by 2020.

Read a version of the interview in German here.

See a CLEW article about the German government's plans to subsidise e-mobility.


Increased pricing pressure has forced leading German solar inverter manufacturer SMA Solar Technology to drastically cut costs, Franz Hubik writes in Handelsblatt. The publicly listed company is shutting down its second biggest manufacturing plant, eliminating hundreds of jobs and selling off its railway technology division while its stock price plummets. While SMA posted a 15 percent increase in first-half revenue to 494 million euros and currently expects a full-year operating profit of between 80 and 120 million euros, the company is facing shrinking business in China, where the solar market has collapsed. That could lead to even greater pricing pressure in 2017 as Asian manufacturers lower inverter prices even further, the article says.

Read the article in German here.

Read SMA’s press release in English here.

Die Welt

Hamburg-based energy provider HanseWerk operates one of the most modern electrolysis plants in the world, Olaf Preuss writes in Die Welt. The key technology can be used to store energy by converting electricity generated by wind and solar sources into hydrogen. The HanseWerk facility can produce up to 290 cubic meters of hydrogen per hour. Hydrogen could play a key role in the energy supply of the future. As a storage medium, hydrogen could help stabilise the fluctuating production of electricity from wind and solar power plants, the article says.

Read the article in German here.

See a CLEW factsheet on storage technologies.


Even though new power transmission lines in Bavaria are going to be buried underground, environmental organisation Friends of the Earth (BUND) is still opposing the grid expansion in the southern state, dpa writes. There was no need for new large power networks, the energy transition should instead be planned decentrally, BUND head Hubert Weiger said in Munich. He warned that “cheap power from the north could endanger the regional energy transition in Bavaria”.

Read the article in German here.

See a CLEW dossier on the grid expansion here.

Mitteldeutsche Zeitung

Politicians and citizens in Saxony-Anhalt have discussed the future of the region after the closure of lignite mine Profen in 2035. Local politicians and business representatives are worried about the 3,000 employees that work for coal company Mibrag and about related jobs in other industries, Steffen Höhne writes in the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung. They wanted to know how much money the state government would provide to get through the structural changes ahead. Others suggested using the extracted lignite in chemical processes instead of as a power source.

Read the article in German here.

See a CLEW factsheet on coal in Germany.


In an interview with Angela Schmid in WirtschaftsWoche, Daniela Jacob, head of Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS), said Germany’s phase out of nuclear energy would result in a short-term increase in carbon emissions because coal cannot be substituted as an established base-load power source in Germany in the short term. As a result, it is unclear whether the short-term reduction targets for 2020 — a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent compared to 1990 — can actually be achieved. Jacob added that it was hardly possible to clearly predict the achievability of the 2050 goal of reducing greenhouse emissions by 80 percent compared to 1990 due to the long time period.

Read the interview in German here.

See a CLEW factsheet on Germany's greenhouse gas emissions and climate targets.

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.
« previous news next news »


Researching a story? Drop CLEW a line or give us a call for background material and contacts.

+49 30 62858 497

Journalism for the energy transition

Get our Newsletter
Join our Network
Find an interviewee