15 Aug 2018, 13:34
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann

Energy minister pushes grid expansion / Auditors rebuke e-car premium

Clean Energy Wire

On a visit to communities affected by new grid development, German energy minister Peter Altmaier said the transition to an energy system based largely on renewables was a project for the whole community that couldn't be implemented by going over peoples' heads. He was speaking at the site of the new Ultranet high-voltage direct current (HVDC) line in North Rhine-Westphalia. Unlike other new connections, Ultranet is to be built on existing pylons. "We will start to prioritise our efforts so that crucial lines can be completed,” Altmaier said, adding opponents of the new infrastructure would be brought into the process.
Construction is already under way on Ultranet, one of three major new "power highways" that are to bring wind power from the north of Germany to industrial centres in the south, while other segments have been held up by local protests.
“The success of the grid expansion will be determined on a local level, not by making new laws," Hans-Jürgen Brick, member of the management board at transmission grid operator Amprion said. Addressing residents of the town of Hürth who are fighting for an underground cable rather than overhead lines, as well as local farmers who want ongoing payments rather than one-off compensation for having pylons built on their land, Altmaier said he would set up talks but couldn't make any promises. 
Altmaier will hold a grid conference with all stakeholders on 20 September 2018 in Berlin, he announced.

Read an article on Altmaier's new "Power Grid Action Plan" here and a CLEW dossier on Germany's grid expansion here.

Der Tagesspiegel

German energy minister Peter Altmaier is “going all out” with his new “Power Grid Action Plan” to make the country’s grid fit for the growing volume of renewable energy sources – and rightfully so, because grid expansion has become the decisive bottleneck in Germany’s energy transition, Jakob Schlandt writes in an opinion piece for Der Tagesspiegel. But Altmaier’s decision to limit the influence of federal states and accelerate licensing of new power lines could alienate political allies and voters, meaning he will need all his diplomatic skills to pacify opponents to the power lines, which are supposed to cross the country by 2025.

Read the opinion piece in German here.

Read an article on Altmaier's new "Power Grid Action Plan" here and a CLEW dossier on Germany's grid expansion here.


German carmakers had undue influence on the birth and design of the country’s buyers’ premium for electric cars, according to Germany’s Federal Court of Auditors (Bundesrechnungshof). Investigations suggest the carmakers’ share of the subsidy “was often offset against existing discounts, meaning it is questionable whether the car industry made a real contribution,” according to the auditors. Buyers of electric cars can get a rebate of 4,000 euros, half of which was meant to be paid by the carmakers.

Read the press release in German here.

For background, read the dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.

Ubitricity / electrive / Die Welt

Berlin start-up ubitricity, which upgrades existing street lights to electric car charging stations, has won New York’s Local Climate Action Tech Competition. Ubitricity’s technology could be instrumental in helping New York achieve its climate action goal while simplifying the needs of electric vehicle users and future adopters, said Jeremy M. Goldberg, deputy chief technology officer at the New York mayor's office. The German company has already taken an order in London and sources told EV magazine electrive that the city of Berlin is currently considering the roll-out of ubitricity technology, Chris Randall reports. Complicated local and EU regulations have been a major hurdle for the company in Germany, even though ubitricity offers a very cheap way to increase the number of charging points, according to Nikolaus Doll and Daniel Wetzel in Die Welt.

Find the ubitricity press release in English here.

Read the electrive article in English here.

Read the Welt article in German here.


Germany's unusually hot summer has dealt a blow to the country’s wind power output, with the yield in July 2018 being 20 percent lower than in the same month last year, Jürgen Flauger and Kathrin Witsch write in Handelsblatt. While solar power plants went from one output record to the next, only 1,300 megawatts (MW) out of Germany’s total 58,000 MW of wind power capacity were available at times, they report. Stable high-pressure areas above western and central Europe prevented weather changes that cause wind. “The dependence on weather conditions continues to be one of the unsolved problems of renewable energy,” the authors write. Rolf Martin Schmitz, head of energy company RWE, said a “broad energy mix” that includes coal was needed to ensure a stable power supply.

Find the article in German here (paywall).

See the CLEW articles Germany’s power system weathers heat wave despite fossil plant curbs and Renewables overtake coal as Germany’s most important power source for background.

Windpower Monthly

German wind turbine maker Nordex has booked a fall in revenue and earnings, but its order books swelled in the first half of the year, reports Craig Richard in Windpower Monthly. Sales dropped 36 percent to 957 million euros, while adjusted earnings (Ebitda) fell 67 percent to around 38 million euros. Nordex said both service and project orders increased significantly in the first half of 2018. "While orders in the wind energy sector remain flat in our home market Germany, Nordex has secured numerous orders in its international markets,” the company said. It also warned that challenges lay ahead because of “fierce competition” and “pressure on prices.”

Read the article in English here.

See the CLEW article Wind industry calls for special auctions amid expansion slowdown for more information.


The number of solar power plants, wind turbines and other renewable energy sources in Germany has risen to 1.74 million, with a combined capacity of almost 112 gigawatts (GW), energy company innogy says in a press release. The vast majority of installations, 1.69 million, are solar PV arrays, the company says. In 2017, Germany produced a total of 220 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity from green power sources, about 15 percent more than in the previous year. The day-to-day production of renewables in 2017 ranged from 0.02 billion kWh to around 40 times that, at 0.73 billion kWh, innogy says.

Read the press release in German here.


There is no doubt electric vehicles are headed for mass-market success, but it would be premature to write-off fuel cells, Christoph M. Schwarzer writes in a commentary for electrive. Fuel cells require fewer raw materials than batteries, are more convenient to refill, and fuel cell cost degression has only just begun, according to the author. “Fuel cells are exactly the right match for certain user profiles and customer preferences,” Schwarzer writes. “From a German perspective, it would not be wise to leave this field to other industrialised nations.”

Read the commentary in German here.

For background, read the dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.

European Commission

The EU will invest another 100 million euros in the planned power line Nordlink that is meant to exchange electricity between wind and hydro power plants in Germany and Norway, the European Commission says in a press release. The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed a financing agreement with grid operator TenneT aimed at supporting the construction of the 600-kilometre power line under the North Sea. Nordlink, scheduled for completion by 2020, will have a capacity of 1,400 megawatts (MW) and is supposed to stabilise the power grid in both countries.

Read the press release in English here.

Find background in the factsheet German offshore wind power – output, business and perspectives and the dossier Energiewende hinges on unblocking the power grid.

Climate Home

Just 20,000 people in Germany are still employed in the once-mighty coal sector but their influence on energy policy is far greater than their number would suggest, Felix Heilmann writes for Climate Home. Coal workers are well-organised and good at furthering their interests, while energy companies use labour disputes to leverage their own financial interests, Heilmann says. He adds that “a certain nostalgia” for the days when coal fuelled Germany’s post-war “economic miracle” helps coal workers' voices resonate with policymakers.

Read the article in English here.

See the CLEW factsheet Germany’s three lignite mining regions for more information.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The German Green Party wants to write climate protection into the country’s constitution, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. At a Green campaign event in the central German federal state of Hesse, where state elections will take place on 28 October, the party’s parliamentary group leader, Katrin Göring-Eckardt, said “climate protection must no longer be contingent on the interests of one particular federal government,” adding that “a brake on carbon emissions in the constitution would always give precedence to a ‘clean solution’.” The Green’s top candidate in Hesse, Priska Hinz, likened the carbon brake to the “debt brake,” in the state’s constitution, ensuring that “future generations don’t have to pay the price for our lifestyle.”

See the CLEW factsheet on the climate and energy policy positions of Germany’s parties 2017 for background.

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