09 Jan 2018, 00:00
Benjamin Wehrmann

"Former" climate champion Germany / Solar goal missed

“Once upon a time”, Germany used to be a “world champion in climate protection” but it risks losing this title as the country’s negotiating government coalition parties mull dropping the 2020 climate target, Joachim Wille writes in a commentary for In the ongoing coalition talks, the conservative CDU/CSU’s as well as the Social Democrats’ (SPD) negotiators have proposed postponing  the envisaged emissions reduction.  If the party leaders, including “climate Chancellor” Angel Merkel, adopt this decision, “the worst-case scenario for German climate policy will have become a reality”. Party representatives argue a greenhouse gas emissions reduction of 40 percent compared to 1990 levels was no longer feasible “from today’s perspective”, but energy experts have proven this assumption to be wrong, Wille argues. “The target could very well be met” if the conservatives and the SPD “carry out a courageous coal-exit policy, remove caps on renewables expansion and take other measures, for example in the transport sector”, he says. “Of course,” Wille concedes, “this won’t be easy”, but it was Chancellor Merkel herself who led Germany into its current situation, he says. The parties now “lack the courage” to bring about real change and instead “opt to conserve outdated energy structures for as long as possible”.

See the CLEW article German coalition negotiators want to postpone 2020 climate goal for more information.

The expansion of Germany’s solar power capacities has failed to fulfil government targets for the fourth year in a row, with additional installations reaching just 1.6 gigawatt (GW) instead of the planned 2.5 GW, industry association BSW Solar says in a press release. The association of solar and storage companies urges the country’s government coalition negotiators of the conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democrats (SPD) to initiate an ad-hoc programme for “solarising” the power, heating and transport sectors, introduce a CO2 price, and abolish expansion caps for solar and storage capacities. An “unparalleled” drop in prices recently had reignited demand for the technology, BSW Solar adds. “Our energy system is ready for a substantial acceleration of solar expansion,” the association’s head Carsten Körnig says. Körnig  added that solar power had by now become one of the cheapest forms of energy production that could create a large number of jobs if current global expansion trends are sustained.

Read the press release in German here.

See the CLEW article Auctions bring German solar power price to new record low for more information.

A range of comparatively simple measures could increase the capacity of the German power grid within the next two to four years, energy think tank Agora Energiewende* finds in a study. An ad-hoc investment programme could improve the transmission grid to the degree that less re-dispatch measures are necessary. The improvements would cover the time before the new “power transmission highways” SuedLink and SuedOstLink are completed in the mid 2020s. Agora Energiewende suggest measures such as a better monitoring of overhead lines as their transmission capacity depended on surrounding weather conditions. Standard assumptions about temperature and wind speeds currently fail to fully exploit the transmission lines’ potential, the study says.

Read the study in German here.

See the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s power grid for more information.

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


Power exports at negative prices are a growing phenomenon in Germany but the country still makes a substantial profit by selling excess electricity abroad, Malte Kreutzfeldt writes in the Tageszeitung (taz). In 2017, Germany exported power worth 3.3 billion euros and imported the equivalent of 1.9 billion euros – thus maintaining a positive trade balance of 1.4 billion euros, Kreutzfeldt says. Power prices were negative for 146 hours, or 1.6 percent of that year, and cost about 41 million euros, only a fraction of the total profits, he adds. However, “politicians use the figure to talk renewable energy expansion down in the context of coalition talks”, Kreutzfeldt says.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet The causes and effects of negative power prices for background.


German utility E.ON is selling off its shares in its fossil power spin-off Uniper to Finnish plant operator Fortum, the company said in a press release. E.ON said it accepted Fortum’s offer to buy its 46.65-percent stake in Uniper for 22 euros per share, totalling nearly 3.8 billion euros. “E.ON will now focus fully on its customers and core businesses in the new energy world,” CEO Johannes Teyssen said. Fortum can expect regulatory barriers for the takeover to be removed by mid-2018, according to the press release.

Find the press release in English here.

See the CLEW dossier Utilities and the energy transition for background.


Leading energy companies from Germany plan to take advantage of their know-how acquired  through the Energiewende and take their business to the global stage, Jürgen Flauger and Franz Hubik write in Handelsblatt. Utility EnBW, which used to be heavily invested in nuclear power and now stands among the leading offshore wind power operators, wants to “expand into a whole new range of markets”, the authors say. Bolstered by financial support, nearly 90 percent of global offshore wind power capacities today are found in Europe, while markets like China or the US are still largely unexploited, they argue. Rapid growth rates of 17 percent per year in the offshore wind business, as calculations by market researcher Make suggest, encourage EnBW to eye investments in Asia and North America. Berthold Bonanni of the Commerzbank says Europe has a technological advantage in the field that no other region will match any time soon.

Read the article in German here (paywall).

See the CLEW factsheet German onshore wind power – output, business and perspectives for more information.

Frankfurter Rundschau

Dieter Kempf , the president of Germany’s largest industry federation BDI,  has warned that national climate policies might increase power prices and prompt companies to relocate production abroad, Thorsten Knuf says in a commentary for the Frankfurter Rundschau. But he fails to acknowledge that the situation for many businesses in Germany is not that difficult, Knuf adds. “It has to be noted that German industry cannot complain about high power prices” as  many companies enjoyed industry rebates for surcharges on the power price, which private households had to pay in full, Knuf argues. “Power for industrial companies is cheaper in Germany than, for example, those in France, Great Britain, China or some states in the US,” he says.

See the CLEW factsheets Industrial power prices and the Energiewende and What business thinks of the energy transition and the CLEW dossier Energiewende effects on power prices, costs and industry for background. 

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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