The drop in costs for renewable energy production will transform the global energy landscape and also alter the geopolitical clout of different countries, with Germany, the US, and China standing to benefit most from a worldwide transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy, the US geopolitical intelligence platform Stratfor says on its blog. Germany’s “leadership in the field” of renewable energy technology is likely to give the country considerable leverage in a world that adopts wind and solar power as the main form of electricity generation, but also much smaller countries, such as Sweden, Denmark, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Morocco, and Kenya “could gain outsize regional influence as a result of the transition, thanks to their potential for exporting renewable energy and technology,” Stratfor writes.
Find the blog entry in English here.
See the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and its implications for international security and the article Government advisors say Energiewende will only thrive in European framework for more information.
German Federal Government
The demand for raw materials needed for the production of renewable energy sources, e-cars and other energy transition technologies could exceed supply by 2035, the German government says in its reply to a parliamentary inquiry filed by the Free Democrats (FDP). The government has identified 16 “highly relevant” materials for the Energiewende, global demand for eight of which - including lithium, cobalt, germanium, and tantalum - will be bigger in 2035 than global production in 2013 if current trends persist, the government says. “Any exact figure on future demand is highly speculative, however,” the government adds, because different competing technologies have quite different raw material needs. According to a study conducted by the German Environment Agency (UBA), the country’s total raw material demand is set to shrink under the Energiewende, as the use of non-recyclable materials, such as oil, will drop. The demand for imported raw materials could also be influenced by the rate of recycling and the “urban mining” of electronic and industrial scrap.
Find the government’s answer in German here.
Environment and Energy Ministry of Baden-Wurttemberg
The energy ministers of Germany’s 16 federal states have agreed to strengthen their focus on the separation of key energy policy decisions from party politics, and to improve coordination between the individual state ministries, the Environment and Energy Ministry of the southern state of Baden-Wurttemberg says in a press release. The Energiewende is “so important” that it requires more than bilateral initiatives by the federal states, and needs to be freed from day-to-day party conflicts, the press release says. Energy policy competencies are not organised in the same way across federal states, sometimes being held by the environment ministry, other times by the economy ministry - but the great interest the conference in Baden-Wurttemberg generated among energy policymakers shows that better cooperation across state and ministry boundaries is necessary, the ministers say.
Find the press release in German here.
For background, read the factsheets Vote 2017: German parties’ energy & climate policy positions & From ideas to laws – how Energiewende policy is shaped and the article First 100 days - German government in disarray neglects energy policy.
A poll commissioned by the German oil and gas producer Wintershall and carried out by pollster Forsa reveals that 54 percent of German respondents believe that natural gas is the best supplement to renewables, compared to 22 percent for timber, 20 percent for oil, 17 percent for nuclear, and 14 percent for coal, according to an article in the industry magazine World Pipelines. Less than one in ten Germans thinks that renewable power sources need no supplements at all. Survey respondents believe Norway is the most reliable supplier of natural gas, ahead of Canada, Russia, and the United States.
Read the article in English here.
Small- and medium-sized suppliers of Germany’s mighty carmakers should receive more financial support to accomplish the shift to e-mobility and lower vehicle emissions as proposed by the EU, the economy ministers of Germany’s federal states were quoted by the weekly newspaper WirtschaftsWoche as saying. However, the ministers also said that combustion engine technology will continue to be needed for many years to come. They called for ending the “uncertainty” arising from the diesel emissions fraud scandal, which has resulted in looming or already existing inner-city bans on older diesel vehicles. The ministers warned the EU against tightening its car emissions standards as this “regulatory corset would amount to an intentional weakening of the European car industry” and would threaten many jobs in Germany.
Read the article in German here.
For more information, read the dossier The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector and the article German environment ministry pushes for tougher EU car emission rules.
A tightening of European limit values for car emissions could spell trouble for Germany’s largest carmaker VW, workers’ council head Bernd Osterloh told journalists, according to Handelsblatt. He said the company would have to sell about one million e-cars by 2025 to meet the emissions limits proposed by the European Commission, but the lack of charging infrastructure and battery costs make it difficult to achieve this goal. “Of course, we’ve got work to do in the car industry – but if there’s no infrastructure it’s going to be hard to convince people to buy an e-car,” Osterloh argued. If no progress is made on the two crucial e-car issues (range and price), the shift to the technology could become “a failure,” he said.
Read the article in German here.
For background, read the factsheet Dieselgate forces VW to embrace green mobility, and the dossier BMW, Daimler, and VW vow to fight in green transport revolution.
Handelsblatt / BMW Group
German car company BMW has placed an order worth over one billion euros with Chinese battery producer CATL, BMW CEO Harald Krüger told Handelsblatt in an interview. “CATL will open a factory in Europe,” Krüger added. In a separate press release, BMW said it will increase its efforts to use car production plants for stabilising the power grid. The plants in southern Germany, “together with other highly flexible plants in our company, will contribute to the public grid’s stability.” The plants can provide the grid with the operating reserve to bridge oscillations in renewable power production, which according to BMW “helps pave the way to the CO2-free electric mobility of the future.”
See the CLEW factsheet Early e-car starter BMW plans new mobility sprint for more information.
The German federal parliament has adopted legislation to allow for energy companies that had invested in nuclear power plants to receive compensation worth millions of euros, Die Welt reports. In the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the German government decided to accelerate the phase-out of nuclear energy, and to complete the process by 2022. Under a 2016 ruling, electricity companies must be indemnified for losses resulting from this decision. The exact amount of compensation has not yet been determined.
Read the article in German here.
University of Jena
Joint German-French research initiative to test new materials for possible use as high-efficiency solar cells
A new University of Jena research project entitled “Quest for Energy” will seek to develop novel solar technology to assist the transition to a low-carbon economy, the university says in a press release. With support from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the physicists in Jena want to examine a barely studied class of materials, so-called transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs), to study their suitability for solar panels. “It would definitely be possible to accelerate the energy transition if, for example, we had better solar technology,” said researcher Michael Zürch.
Read the press release in English here.
For background, see the dossier New technologies for the Energiewende.