10 Apr 2017, 00:00
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann

EU questions capacity reserve / Stuttgart's diesel bans in doubt

Handelsblatt / dpa

Germany’s planned financial support for reserve power plants has been met with scepticism by the European Commission, news agency dpa reports in an article carried by Handelsblatt. The Commission has doubts about the necessity of this “important part of the German energy transition,” the article says. Margrethe Vestager, EU Commissioner for Competition, said the capacity reserve would be scrutinised to avoid illegitimate subsidies. The capacity reserve of two gigawatts German grid operators are required to provide by 2018 is meant to serve as a backup if volatile renewable power generation fails to cover the country’s demand, the article adds.

Read the article in German here

Stuttgarter Zeitung / Spiegel Online

It remains uncertain whether Mercedes’ and Porsche’s hometown Stuttgart will introduce diesel driving bans next year as currently planned, according to the regional government. Green state premier Winfried Kretschmann told local newspapers the bans were “not set in stone yet”: “We haven’t imposed driving bans yet, and maybe they won’t come at all.” He said the bans could be avoided if the car industry managed to retrofit older diesel engines to reduce local air pollution. During a visit to a Mercedes factory, Kretschmann said: “Clean diesel engines exist, and they will come.”

Read the interview in German here and an article in Spiegel Online on the issue here.

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


The German car industry has not given up yet on its highly profitable combustion engine, reports Sebastian Schaal for business magazine WirtschaftsWoche. “Electric propulsion remains Plan B, because Plan A is simply working too well,” he wrote. At an industry conference, carmakers and suppliers stressed last week that combustion engines still offer potential to reduce CO2 emissions, and discussed ways to extend their lifespan beyond 2030 by using “e-fuels” made with renewable electricity.  

Read the article in German here.

Find background on carmakers’ plans in the CLEW factsheets Dieselgate forces VW to embrace green mobility, Reluctant Daimler plans “radical” push into new mobility world, and Early e-car starter BMW plans new mobility sprint.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

The French government’s order to decommission the contested nuclear reactor Fessenheim can’t make up for the fact that President Francois Hollande hasn’t pursued a French “Energiewende” due to resistance from the nuclear lobby, Leo Klimm writes in a commentary for the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Like a state within the state, nuclear plant operator EDF dictates the energy policy,” he argues. Hollande accepted that EDF prevented the plant’s closure in 2016, brokered a 500-million-euro compensation by taxpayers and has now made opening a new nuclear plant the precondition for closing the 40-year-old reactor near the German border, Klimm writes. At the beginning of his term, Hollande said he wanted to shut down 24 nuclear plants – “now Hollande is leaving and hasn’t closed a single one,” Klimm says.

Read the commentary in German here.

For additional information, see the CLEW dossier The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out.


The share of taxes and levies German households have to pay for power has reached a new all-time high, price comparison website Verivox said in a press release. The state’s share in the power bill “now accounts for 56 percent for private customers – an increase of 17 percentage points compared to 2007,” Verivox said. Power costs for the average German household with an annual consumption of 3,500 kilowatt hours (kWh) amounted to 994 euros per year, Verivox said, adding that the total sum of taxes and levies for power in Germany was estimated to reach 21 billion euros this year.

See the press release in German here.

For more information, see the CLEW factsheets What German households pay for power and Germany ponders how to finance renewables expansion in the future.

Federal Government

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on citizens to make better use of existing financial support programmes to replace old heating systems in her weekly video podcast. She said households were crucial for increasing efficiency and the success of the energy transition, according to a press release. Germany’s 13 million old heating systems should be replaced step-by-step, she added.

Find the video and a press release in German here.

Find background in the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and efficiency.

Welt Online

The EU agency Fusion for Energy (F4E) has rejected calls by German MPs to cut funding for the fusion reactor ITER and use the money for research on conventional energy transition technologies instead, Daniel Wetzel writes on Welt Online. “We Europeans spend about a billion euros a day on energy imports,” F4E director Johannes Schwemmer said, adding that the sums spent on ITER were comparatively modest. The nuclear fusion reactor, currently under construction in southern France, is slated to cost the EU more than eleven billion euros, Wetzel writes. Nuclear experts of the German Green Party and the Left Party said the EU ought to leave the international project as ITER was “a waste of taxpayer’s money” and a “nonstarter.”

Read the article in German here.

Germany’s current system of levies, taxes, and fees on energy is unsuitable for the next phase of the country’s energy transition, according to an analysis by energy think tank Agora Energiewende*. For heating oil, these add up to a mere 0.6 cents per kilowatt hour, compared to 18.7 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity. The current system “punishes climate-friendly energy consumption, while rewarding climate-damaging behaviour,” according to a press release.
The think tank’s director Patrick Graichen said at a press conference a fundamental reform of the system was one of the central challenges for the next government but essential to encourage the use of electricity in heating and transport. “Otherwise a comprehensive energy transition won’t work.”  

Find the press release in German here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet Germany ponders how to finance renewables expansion in the future.

*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.

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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