03 Sep 2018, 14:05
Benjamin Wehrmann

EU lifts tariffs on Chinese solar panels / CO2 fills Germany's coffers

European Commission / Reuters

Chinese solar panels will no longer be subject to trade controls such as minimum prices in the European Union, the European Commission announced in its official journal. The trade restrictions, introduced in 2013 to shield the European Union’s solar power market from cheaper Chinese imports, expired on 3 September, the Commission said. According to news agency Reuters, European renewable power expansion goals are one of the rationales behind lifting controls. While the Chinese government welcomed the move as an example of successful trade diplomacy, European solar panel producer lobby group EU ProSun said the change in policy would devastate the continent’s industry. While European solar power companies that import and install panels hope the cheaper products will boost their business, solar panel manufacturers are considering taking legal action at the European Court of Justice against the lifting of measures.

Read the EU announcement in English here and the article in English here.

See the CLEW article Last major German solar cell maker surrenders to Chinese competition for more information.

Federal Environment Agency / Welt Online

The rising price for CO2 emissions in the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) has created windfall gains for Germany’s energy and climate funds, the latest monthly report by Germany’s Federal Environment Agency (UBA) reveals. According to the July 2018 report by the UBA’s emission trading office, the auctioning of 17 million allowances generated revenue of 284 million euros in that month alone, meaning that bidders paid nearly nine percent more than in the previous month and the highest monthly average price since 2011. In 2018, revenues from allowances traded at the European Energy Exchange (EEX) at a weighted average price of 12.73 euros have so far amounted to 1.5 billion euros, already more than the 1.15 billion earned in 2017. About one-third of allowances for 2018 have yet to be auctioned, the UBA says.
According to news website Welt Online, total 2018 revenue is expected to reach over 2 billion euros by year’s end and will be transferred to the country’s Energy and Climate Fund, which is used to finance measures like e-mobility support and heating system modernisation. The rising price of CO2 emissions could now fill the fund with 1 billion euros more than initially expected by Germany’s finance ministry (BMF), the article says.

Find the UBA report in English here and the Welt Online article in German here.

For background, read the article Rising CO2-price could trigger German coal phase-out in 5 years and the factsheet Understanding the European Union’s Emissions Trading System.

Greenpeace / Spiegel Online

The criticism of the Green Party’s climate policy by Andrea Nahles, leader of the  SPD, Germany’s junior government coalition partner, has led to consternation and objections by the Greens and environmental groups. NGO Greenpeace said in a mailed statement that the Social Democrat’s vow to protect the interest of coal workers against an overly ambitious climate protection policy was “a slap in the face to everyone already affected by climate change”. Greenpeace spokesman Tobias Münchmeyer said the hot, dry summer in Germany had caused great damage to many people in the country, “but the SPD’s leader does not mention this.” Nahles will only be able to modernise her party, which is battling a decade-long decline in voter support, when she is ready to leave “the outdated role of a pro-coal party” and turn towards fully embracing renewables as the way forward, he added.
The Green Party’s parliamentary group leader, Anton Hofreiter, said Nahles’s comments demonstrated that the SPD was “helpless, drifting and lashing about” to counter its descent. Instead of putting climate action into question, the SPD leader should instead engage with the Greens in finding viable solutions for the economic future of coal regions.

Find the article in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet Germany’s three lignite mining regions and CLEW’s Commission watch for background.


The investments made by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Germany in recent years have started to pay off and reduced the companies’ exposure to high power prices, German state-owned business development bank KfW said in a press release. Between 2014 and 2016, about 1.4 million SMEs in Germany invested in energy efficiency and lower energy use, which equals around 37 percent of all comparable companies in the country. Additionally boosted by lower prices for key energy carriers such as oil, the share of SMEs paying less than 5,000 euros for energy per year grew to 56 percent, compared to 40 percent in the period between 2011 and 2013. “Efficient energy use is becoming more and more important for SMEs,” said KfW head economist Jörg Zeuner. “We see this as proof of a changing attitude in the entire sector,” he added.

Read the press release in German here.

See the CLEW interview on the effect of batteries on German power costs the CLEW factsheet What business thinks of the energy transition for background.

The climate talks in Bangkok must lead to tangible results that make this year’s COP24 UN climate conference in Poland a success, NGO Germanwatch says in a press release. “Robust rules for the Paris Climate Agreement, improved climate goals for countries and support for those most affected by climate change in the poorest countries – these are the most important elements for Katowice,” the Polish city where the conference is taking place in December, Germanwatch’s climate policy expert Rixa Schwarz said. There is still a lot of work to do before the parties decide on a rulebook that is aimed at underpinning the Paris Agreement’s goals with concrete action steps, Schwarz added. These rules are needed to ensure that climate contributions are comparable across countries, emission reduction figures are not counted multiple times and financial engagements are more transparent, she said.

Read the press release in German here.

See the CLEW article German government looks ahead as Bonn climate talks leave much to do for more information.

German Petroleum Industry Association

The EU’s 2050 greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal cannot be achieved without liquid fuels, the German Petroleum Industry Association (MWV) says in its annual report. The petrol industry lobby group says petrol companies want to contribute to a more sustainable energy system by improving the performance of oil refineries, which in the future could use more biomass as well as CO2 emissions as an input factor to produce carbon-neutral fuels. In the European petrol industry’s VISION 2050 concept, refineries “will become part of an ecologic cycle economy” and an incubator of “new, environmentally friendly technologies”, the MWV says. According to the annual report, petrol product sales in Germany grew by 2.3 percent in 2017, keeping oil in the top position of Germany’s energy carriers with a share of 34.5 percent.

Find the report in German here.

For background, read the interview Emission-free aviation is technically feasible - DLR Researcher.

BSW Solar / Federal Government

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and largest economy, can cover a big share of its growing energy demand with solar power, the German industry lobby group BSW Solar says in a press release. In an in-depth analysis of Nigeria’s solar power potential, BSW Solar found that solar power has the potential to boost energy supply in Nigeria’s urban areas as well as in rural zones that are not properly connected to the national power grid. “Germany’s solar power experts can use their valuable know-how to contribute to the complex system integration of solar PV,” the group said.
On a working trip to West African states, German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week said Nigeria was already an important trade partner for Germany. “Especially in the energy sector, we can still do a lot more,” she said in a speech published by the Federal Government’s press office. 

Find the BSW Solar study in English here.

Welt Online

Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess has told employees that the company’s managers should swap their staff cars for e-cars, Nicolaus Doll writes in Welt Online. According to the article, Diess told VW managers that the company would not be able to convince customers to buy electric cars while its employees use fuel-guzzling SUVs with diesel engines. As early as next year, the company is aiming to have one electric vehicle in every 10 of VW’s 20,000 company cars in Germany, with the number set to rise “significantly” in 2020, Diess said.

Read the article in German here.

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

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.
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