05 Oct 2018, 14:15
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann

Extreme weather increases blackouts/ Berlin diesel bans likely- report

Federal Grid Agency (BNetzA)

An increase in extreme weather events like storms, floods and snow pushed up the average electricity blackout time in Germany last year. The average interruption per power consumer rose to 15.14 minutes from 12.80 minutes in 2017, according to the Federal Grid Agency (BNetzA). "The energy transition and the rising share of decentralised generating capacity continue to have no negative effects on the quality of supply," the agency said in a press release. "Interruption times in the distribution network caused by weather events more than doubled compared to a year earlier."

Find the press release here.

Find plenty of background in the CLEW factsheet Germany’s electricity grid stable amid energy transition.

rbb / Der Tagesspiegel

The German capital Berlin could be one of the next cities to introduce driving bans for older diesel cars, public broadcaster rbb reports. According to documents by the Berlin Senate, the bans the would affect 200,000 vehicles  are “inevitable” and could be introduced in 2019 to bring emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) down to legal levels. The bans would be effective on over 20 major roads in the city and include diesel vehicles with emissions standards Euro 0 to Euro 5, the article says. The Senate estimates that one in five affected diesel cars could receive an exemption from the bans, though the criteria for special treatment are still unclear.
According to newspaper Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin’s administrative court will decide on the matter on 9 October. The bans might take effect as early as January 2019, the newspaper says.

Find the rbb article in German here.

For background, read the article "Dieselgate" - a timeline of Germany's car emissions fraud scandal.

Bild Zeitung

The ongoing conflict between anti-coal protesters and energy company RWE at the Hambach Forest is but one of several recent examples that illustrate the indecisiveness of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s fourth government coalition, Germany’s largest tabloid, the Bild Zeitung, writes. “We clear forests for lignite although the coal exit has already been decided on,” the conservative tabloid writes, adding that “it is incomprehensible for many people in Germany why an old forest has to die for an outdated technology.” The Bild Zeitung says that “lignite not only creates most of the harmful greenhouse gases, but also hefty profits, because the power plants are already written off.” In a hint at the government’s latest diesel deal, “which has not solved any of the diesel customers’ troubles,” the tabloid writes that “Denmark demonstrates that things can be done differently: by 2030, cars with combustion engines will no longer get a license,” adding that Belgium, France and Norway have decided on similar policies.

Read the article in German here.

For background, read today’s article German court stops clearing of Hambach Forest.

Nearly 100 civil society organisations from across the world – including Greenpeace International, Banktrack,, Climate Action Network and E3G – have sent a joint letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, urging her to intervene in the escalating crisis over the embattled Hambach Forest. “We write to you today to urge you to intervene immediately by supporting a moratorium on any tree-felling activities […] and to commit to a swift and just coal phase-out in Germany in line with the UN Paris Climate Agreement starting without further delay,” says the letter.

Find the letter in English here, and a Greenpeace press release in English here.

For background, read today’s article German court stops clearing of Hambach Forest.

See CLEW’s Commission watch for regular updates on Germany’s coal exit planning.


The protests against energy company RWE in that Hambach Forest are directed at a coal lobby that wants to show its power and create precedents, even though clearing the forest is now technically not necessary, Rainer Balcerowiak writes in an opinion piece in politics and culture magazine Cicero. “A comprehensive Energiewende [energy transition] without a doubt is necessary, primarily due to ecological and climate concerns,” Balcerowiak says, adding that this will require “determined state action and political courage.” However, he argues that some sacrifices have to be made for progress on the energy transition and that protests against new wind farms, solar parks or hydropower plants cannot be blocked by those advocating a “back to nature” approach.

Read the op-ed in German here.

For background, read today’s article German court stops clearing of Hambach Forest.


Several German NGOs have filed a lawsuit against a possible prohibition of a large anti-coal protest at the Hambach Forest over the weekend, public broadcaster WDR reports. “This is about thwarting a peaceful and non-violent protest,” said Greenpeace spokesman Dirk Jansen. Police had said they see “substantial dangers for public safety” if the protest with an expected 20,000 participants takes place unchecked, as an appropriate security concept for the event did not exist.

Find the article in German here.

For background, read today’s article German court stops clearing of Hambach Forest.

Spiegel Online

The government of Luxembourg has written a complaint letter to the European Commission, lamenting the plan of neighbour country Germany to implement hardware retrofits of diesel cars in only a few selected regions for a few car owners, website Spiegel Online reports. The German plan would “create chaos” in the EU and violate the principle of equal treatment of customers and citizens in Europe. “German companies have cheated on Dutch and Belgian customers just as much as they cheated on German customers,” Luxembourg’s infrastructure minister Francois Bausch said in the letter. The EU Commission had to ensure that carmakers not only retrofit selected vehicles to avoid driving bans in certain cities but rather “cover the entire EU” to ensure equal standards for car sellers and customers.

Read the article in German here.


The exceptionally hot and dry summer 2018 in Germany and large parts of Europe has led to a shortage of biogas plants like maize, for which crop yields in some regions have fallen by 50 percent, making the production of biogas more expensive, Andreas Macho writes in the WirtschaftsWoche. According to biogas industry analyst Sarah Gerig, about one third of Germany’s 9,400 biogas plants could become insolvent. “Investors can only hope to get all or at least some of their money back,” she said, adding that the promised returns are not going to materialise in many cases. Gerig said the complicated ownership structure of many biogas plants, with funding coming from multiple sources, made it more difficult for investors to fully comprehend where their money goes.

Find the article in German here (paywall).

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