Firms invest record sum in env protection/ Utilities tackle e-mobility
German Statistics Agency (Destatis)
German manufacturing companies have invested a record 7.9 billion euros in 2014 in environment and climate protection measures to reduce, avoid or clean up emissions and save resources, Germany’s statistics agency Destatis writes in a press release on the latest figures it made available. The investments were up by 5.7 percent compared to 2013 and accounted for 10.3 percent of all corporate investments in 2014, according to Destatis. The largest share (42.7 percent) of investments was made in water protection, while investments in climate protection came in second with 36 percent. Around 1.9 billion euros of investments were made by energy providers, Destatis added.
For more information on The energy transition's effect on jobs and business, see this CLEW dossier.
For background on the environmental rationale of the Energiewende, read the CLEW dossier The energy transition and climate change.
Several lawsuits regarding high nitrogen oxide emission levels – filed by the non-profit environmental and consumer protection association Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) in the recent past – start to have consequences for cities and carmakers, writes Stefan Mayr in Süddeutsche Zeitung. A court in Düsseldorf called on the city government to ensure that emission limits are met “as fast as possible” and a court in Stuttgart inquired with the city administration whether it planned to adhere to such limits in the future. Until now, no German city has introduced driving bans, writes Mayr.
Read the article in German here.
German energy company E.ON has established a new unit to develop and expand Europe’s e-vehicle charging infrastructure, the utility announced in a press release. "We firmly believe in the future of e-mobility and the related potential for growth,” said Karsten Wildberger, a member of the E.ON management board. E.ON already set up and operates thousands of charging stations across Europe.
Utility innogy had announced its own e-mobility business unit a week ago.
Read the press release in English here.
Germany’s green energy industry has for years dashed from one record to the next, but this trend is set to slow down, Thorsten Knuf writes in a commentary for Frankfurter Rundschau. “Yes to green energy but, please, not too much, such is the government’s demand,” he says. The official line is that the Energiewende needs to be better organised, but one could well imagine that Social Democratic economy minister Sigmar Gabriel “secretly seeks to keep the climate-damaging coal industry alive for as long as possible”, according to Knuf. With general elections less than one year ahead, “arguably no prospect could be worse for a Social Democratic party leader than coal miners and labour unions turning their backs on him”, he writes. But citizens needed to have choice in energy policy between “a courageous restart and an Energiewende with the hand brake put on”.
Read more on Germany’s performance in emission reduction in the CLEW article German carbon emissions rise in 2016 despite coal use drop.
For more information on the upcoming election year, read the CLEW dossier Vote2017 - German elections and the Energiewende.
A “failed government policy that puts the brakes on the Energiewende” is the real reason that CO₂ emissions in the energy sector continue to rise, writes Kurt Stenger in an opinion piece in Neues Deutschland. The federal government should renew its climate protection policy. “But it is not at all willing to act contrary to the interests of the energy lobbies,” writes Stenger.
Read the opinion piece in German here.
Neue Zürcher Zeitung
Economy minister Sigmar Gabriel’s statement on the performance of Germany’s economy in 2016 has been a self-complacent stocktaking, Christoph Eisenring writes in an opinion piece for Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Gabriel stated he would have done “nothing” differently and achieved “everything” he wanted, comparing himself to Germany’s first post-war economy minister Ludwig Erhard, author of a book called “Prosperity for all”, Eisenring says. Erhard’s conviction was that freedom of competition had to be the paramount principle of successful economic policy, he writes. But Gabriel strongly increased the state’s influence over many industry sectors, and especially over the energy industry, according to Eisenring. “Maybe the Social Democrat Gabriel has made a free interpretation”, if he calls his administration the “ministry for social market economy”, he writes.
For background on central Energiewende legislation, see the CLEW dossier The reform of the Renewable Energy Act.
The breakthrough in e-mobility has once again not happened in Germany in 2016, Holger Holzer and Matthias Breitinger write on Zeit Online. “Even in Europe, Germany continues to perform below average: between January and November, only 0.7 percent of newly registered cars had an electric engine,” they explain. While in France and Britain, for example, the figure stood at 1.4 and 1.3 percent respectively. This laggard performance of German carmakers posed “a high risk for the future profits of the industry”, automotive industry expert Ferdinand Dudenhöffer told Zeit Online. Car companies like VW and Daimler will not bring e-cars on the market before 2020, making the government’s goal of having one million electrified vehicles on Germany’s roads by that year seem “more dubious than ever before”, Holzer and Breitinger write.
Read the article in German here.
Read more on the automotive industry and energy transition in the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.
Denmark has in many respects been a role model for the Energiewende, but not all ideas put into practice by the small northern neighbour country are transferable to far bigger Germany, Jens Tartler writes in Der Tagesspiegel. Germany is much more densely populated and has many far larger cities which, for instance, makes requirements for district heating systems a lot more challenging, Tartler explains. “But this doesn’t change the fact that there are many lessons to be learned,” he adds. Denmark hosted 29 of Europe’s 30 biggest solar power stations, gained 40 percent of its electricity from windmills, has prohibited the use of oil and gas heating in new buildings and “generally will let all licenses for burning coal expire by 2030”, Tartler says.
For more information on the Energiewende and Germany’s neighbours, see the CLEW dossier Germany's energy transition in the European context.