“EU wants to split Germany into two power price zones”
The European Commission “is threatening to split [Germany] into two power price zones,” which would make power more expensive in the South than in the North, according to information obtained by Die Welt. Germany has stalled grid development for years, and excess power flowing into neighbouring countries has been “a source of political conflict and hindered the integration of the western and eastern European electricity markets,” Die Welt said, citing a source in Brussels. The Commission wants to present plans for a new market design, including the idea of price zones at the end of the year, writes Die Welt.
Read the article in German here.
Find detailed information on Germany’s power grid in this CLEW dossier and the explanation of the set-up and challenges of Germany's power grid in this CLEW factsheet.
Also read the CLEW factsheet Loop flows: Why is wind power from northern Germany putting east European grids under pressure?
“The cornerstones of VW’s new strategy”
German carmaker VW hopes the upcoming presentation of future strategy targets will end months of shock in the wake of the emissions scandal, reports Wilfried Eckl-Dorna in manager magazine. The company wants to take a leading role in the emerging business of mobility services and strongly increase the number of models with alternative engines, reports Eckl-Dorna. By 2025, VW wants to sell one million electric cars per year, but there has been no decision yet on whether VW wants to enter the business of making batteries. CEO Matthias Müller will present the “Strategy 2025” in the second half of June, according to the report.
Read the report in German here.
For background, read CLEW’s dossier The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector.
“Why Germany needs a battery cell factory”
For years, German companies have debated the pros and cons of building a domestic battery cell factory, reports Alfons Frese in Tagesspiegel. The government financed many research projects over the years to catch up with Japan and South Korea, but last year Daimler killed plans for a project at the last minute. Government representatives told the Tagesspiegel there has been little progress on the issue over the last five years, because carmakers were reluctant. Policymakers have tried to push the project independently of carmakers, because energy storage will also be decisive for the Energiewende, reports Frese. Many experts believe the project will have to be initiated this year to make cell production competitive in the next decade.
Read the article in German here.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung / Utility association BDEW
“’Energiewende costs on the rise’”
The German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) says the interests of regional states must not take precedence over reform proposals to make the energy transition more economical, reports Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. BDEW head Stefan Kapferer told the paper in his first interview since taking office in May that plans for a reform of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) showed how “business-oriented thinking can be injected into the renewables roll-out.” Instead of adding further exceptions to placate regional states, the number of regulations should be reduced, argued Kapferer. Chancellor Angela Merkel and state premiers will try to find a compromise on the EEG reform at a meeting on Tuesday.
Kapferer also said the government could not set parameters for energy policy in 2030 or 2050 because technological developments were uncertain. He said he was “very, very sceptical” about government plans to cover energy demand largely with renewable power in the future, because renewable generation would have to be multiplied if heat and transport would also run on electricity in the future. He said gas and fuel cells should not be ruled out as options for the transport sector.
Read the article in German here.
For background, read the CLEW factsheet EEG reform 2016 – switching to auctions for renewables.
“Red card for Renewable Energy Act”
A government adviser has criticised government plans for the reform of the Renewable Energy Act as insufficient patchwork that “will not be able to secure Germany’s competitiveness and supply security,” reports Klaus Stratmann in the business daily Handelsblatt. In an expert opinion written on behalf of business-oriented members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party, Georg Erdmann from Berlin’s technical university says increasing government intervention and the lack of technological neutrality contradict the aim of a cost-efficient and reliable Energiewende, as well as open markets and the essential industrialisation of renewables. Erdmann is one of the four members of a team that assesses the Energiewende from an academic point of view on behalf of the government, according to Handelsblatt.
Read the article in German (behind paywall) here.
“The federal government is blocking climate policy”
Northernmost state Schleswig-Holstein’s environment minister Robert Habeck is heavily reproaching the federal government for its plans to slow down onshore wind power development under a reform of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG). “The country would […] very clearly fall short of its climate protection obligations”, said Habeck. The remarks come ten days after the Green politician said that he wanted to stretch out wind power development goals in his own state by an additional 10 years. However, “the number of possible new wind power facilities currently envisioned by the federal government wouldn’t even suffice for the stretched period. […] We in Schleswig-Holstein are in a completely different situation than the rest of the Republic”, explained Habeck.
Read the interview in German here.
“Merkel’s climate protection exam“
Germany as the “Energiewende-country” has a special responsibility regarding climate-related issues in a declaration by G7 leaders meeting in Japan, writes Joachim Wille in Frankfurter Rundschau. The heads of state agreed to “ensure the swift and successful implementation of the Paris Agreement” and committed themselves “to the elimination of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” by 2025, according to the declaration. After the Japan trip, “Merkel must especially ensure that the climate homework in her own country is done properly,” writes Wille, pointing to current plans to reform the Renewable Energy Act (EEG), as well as the planned Climate Action Plan 2050.
Read the opinion piece in German here.
Read the G7 leaders’ declaration in English here.
For more information on the Climate Action Plan 2050 read the CLEW factsheet.
Utility association BDEW
“Energy transition is largest national IT project ever”
Both the energy transition and digitalisation are profoundly transforming the energy sector, according to utility association BDEW. “Both developments are directly intertwined – the Energiewende is the largest national IT project of all time,” said BDEW head Stefan Kapferer in a press release. The association published a “digital agenda” for the sector, which aims to show “paths to a successful digital transformation.”
Federal Environment Agency
“Federal government compensates for emissions from official trips”
Germany’s Federal Environment Agency (UBA) has bought and cancelled 138,038 Certified Emission Reductions (CER) to offset the emissions of the government’s staff in 2014. “This corresponds to the emissions of all official trips of the federal government done by 16 ministries and 58 federal agencies by plane and official car in 2014,” writes the UBA in a press release. The German federal government last year agreed to neutralise the climate impact of all its employees’ official trips between 2014 and 2017.
Find the press release in German here.
EU Commission approves state aid for closure of lignite-fired power plants
The European Commission has found German plans to grant 1.6 billion euros in public financing for mothballing and subsequently closing eight lignite-fired power plants to be in line with EU state aid rules. "The measure promotes EU environmental objectives, as it helps Germany to achieve its CO2 emission target, without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market. […] potential distortions of competition created by the aid are largely offset by the environmental benefits,” the Commission said in a press release. While the costs for closing the plants will be borne by the operators themselves, Germany plans to compensate the operators for their foregone profits, the commission said.
German federal economics and energy minister Sigmar Gabriel called the decision in a press release “an important step for the continued realisation of the power market law, as well as the standby reserve.” This means Germany could take 13 percent (2.7 gigawatts) of lignite coal capacity off the market in the coming years, which would enable it to reach its national carbon emissions targets, according to the economics ministry's press release.