German-Austrian power zone split / EU: no plans to tighten CO2 goal
Austrian Energy Agency
The first day-ahead auction on the EPEX SPOT power exchange after the split of the common power price zone between Austria and Germany, which becomes effective today (1 October), saw higher prices for Austria than Germany, writes the Austrian Energy Agency in a press release. Prices in Austria on average were 1.94 euros, or 3.2 percent above those in Germany. Action became necessary in the common power price zone because Austrian electricity consumers often bought more power from German providers than the grid could transport. This led to costly re-dispatch measures to deal with the congestion and loop flows to neighbouring countries. The European Commission had put pressure on the German government and the country’s transmission system operators to fix the problem.
“The effects on the Austrian power market are not massive so far,” write the regulators Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) and E-Control in a joint press release. An annual average price difference of 2-3 euros seems most likely, depending on gas and CO₂ prices, they add.
In a separate press release, Stefan Kapferer, head of utility association BDEW, said that the split will not ease the need for accelerated power grid development, and it “remains to be seen” if it actually leads to the desired relief for the electricity network. “In any case, this step contradicts the pursuit of the largest possible and thus most liquid electricity markets in Europe,” said Kapferer.
For background, read the CLEW factsheet Interconnectors & blockages – German grid at odds with EU power market and the dossier “Energiewende hinges on unblocking the power grid”.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
The European Commission has given up plans to tighten the European emissions reduction goal for 2030 ahead of the UN climate conference COP24 in Katowice as member states did not voice sufficient support for the ambitious target to reduce CO2 levels by 45 percent instead of just 40 percent compared to 1990 levels, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. The Commission insisted that EU energy commissioner Miguel Arias Canete never announced an official target increase but according to the article, both Canete and commission president Jean-Claude Juncker were in favour of tighter reduction goals to sharpen the EU’s environmental protection profile. Together with other European lobby groups, the Federation of German Industries (BDI) opposed tighter targets while German Chancellor Angela Merkel had said: “I don’t think that constantly coming up with new targets makes sense.” Canete, however, argues that these are a logical consequence of a greater share of renewables that the EU states agreed on in spring, the article says.
For background, read the CLEW dossier Germany's energy transition in the European context.
Clean Energy Wire
The German government is working on a concept to reduce emissions from diesel cars in German cities which will include swap and retrofit options, said transport minister Andreas Scheuer during a live video chat on Instagram. “We are currently talking mainly to German manufacturers regarding solutions in 14 affected cities,” said Scheuer. He added that foreign carmakers have the responsibility “to offer the same attractive transfer premiums as the German manufacturers have already promised”. German chancellor Angela Merkel and several ministers – including environment minister Svenja Schulze, finance minister Olaf Scholz and economy minister Peter Altmaier – will meet Monday night (1 October) to decide a concept. Scheuer said it will not be able to satisfy every diesel car owner. “It's hard to put together an all-round carefree package, we have to be honest about that. We will not be able to solve all the individual cases.” His party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) had decided that car owners should not have to pay for retrofits. Scheuer said that carmaker Volkswagen (VW) had offered to pay only part and now the government had to discuss ways to fill the gap.
Find the transport ministry Instagram account here.
Get background on the diesel story in the CLEW factsheet "Dieselgate" - a timeline of Germany's car emissions fraud scandal.
A gradual reduction of coal-fired power production and the parallel expansion of renewable energy sources to 65 percent of Germany’s 2030 power mix would reduce electricity costs and emissions and allow the country to reach its climate target in the energy sector, according to think tank Agora Energiewende*. The think tank says that while reducing coal capacity would initially cause the wholesale power price to rise by 0.4 cent per kilowatt hour (kWh), a parallel increase in the share of wind and solar power would reduce the price by 0.8 ct/kWh, resulting in a net reduction of electricity costs. “Energy-intensive industries would benefit the most from this combination. They could take advantage of a lower power price without having to fund the expansion of renewables” if they continue to be exempt from Germany’s renewables surcharge, said Agora Energiewende’s Frank Peter. Higher costs for other customers would be offset by lower wholesale prices, Agora’s analysis found. To ensure supply security, Germany would have to invest in building flexible new gas power plants, increase European power market integration and improve demand-side management, it added.
Find the study and a press release in German here.
See the factsheet Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions and climate targets for more information.
*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.
The German wind industry has lauded the international optimism regarding the renewable energy source at the global fair WindEnergy Hamburg but complained that the interest of German politicians in this growth sector has faded. Nearly 1,500 exhibitors from 40 different countries convened in Hamburg to discuss onshore and offshore wind power’s international perspectives, with many participants praising the positive outlook at the fair, WindEnergy Hamburg said in a press release. “The somewhat subdued mood in the German wind industry brightened up noticeably in view of the international character of this trade fair,” said Andreas Schröter of DNV GL – Energy. Hans-Dieter Kettwig, CEO of Enercon, Germany’s largest onshore wind turbine producer, said: “The only sad note is that no representative of the Federal Government came to Hamburg to get informed about the wind industry.”
Read the press release in English here.
For background, read the CLEW dossiers Offshore wind power in Germany and Onshore wind power in Germany and the article Minister promises stability for troubled German wind power sector.
Aligning lending standards of development banks with the Paris Agreement’s emissions reduction targets would help achieve a quicker and more sustainable modernisation of the recipient countries’ economies, according to a working paper by NGO Germanwatch. “It is critical that when trying to close the infrastructure investment gap, investments are aligned with the Paris Agreement today to avoid high-carbon lock-in and the risk of stranded assets in future,” the paper says.
Read the working paper in English here.
See the CLEW article German financial sector expects EU standards to boost green finance for more information.
Municipal utility NEW from western Germany will join the growing ranks of e-car manufacturers, Florian Rinke writes in the Rheinische Post. The small utility has invested about 2.5 million euros in the company Share2Drive from Aachen, which has developed an e-car called Sven that could be ready for large-scale use by 2021, the article says. “We don’t want to become a carmaker, we just want to close a gap that currently exists in the market,” said NEW CEO Frank Kindervatter, adding that he hopes other utilities and transport providers would include Sven in their portfolio. Aachen also is home to other German e-car producers, namely transport van manufacturer Streetscooter and passenger car producer e.GO.
For background, read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.
Germany’s energy policy has not lived up to its climate and renewables expansion targets and has failed to adequately integrate citizens in planning procedures, Simone Peter of the German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE) and Stefan Kapferer of the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) said during a debate on public radio station Deutschlandfunk Kultur. “The Energiewende [energy transition] has a big benefit, but this has to be explained to people,” Peter, a former Green politician, said, adding that the government has chosen to rather give in to industry interests and failed to provide a clear roadmap for its energy transition strategy. Energy industry lobby group head Kapferer said there had to be clarity on the expansion of renewable energy sources and grid development as well as in the promotion of combined heat-and-power systems and storage technology. “The transition to renewables will always be accompanied by interventionist policies,” Kapferer said, adding that the conflict over the Hambach Forest showed that “decision makers let themselves be used by opponents of the project.”
Find the radio programme in German here.
See the CLEW article Wind industry calls for special auctions amid expansion slowdown and the interview with researcher Quaschning about a German solar power policy for more information.
About 10,000 people gathered at the Hambach Forest over the past weekend to again protest against the forest’s clearing to make way for a nearby coal mine, the Rheinische Post reports. At a protest event on Sunday, environment expert Peter Wohlleben told an audience that the ancient forest is one of Germany’s last remaining primeval forests, stressing its importance in absorbing carbon emissions and cooling the local climate during heat waves like the one central Europe experienced this summer. Wohlleben said cutting down the forest would be “a catastrophic signal for climate action”. Meanwhile, police have cleared almost 80 tree houses with activists who have held out for years in the ancient forest, saying that it is hard to gauge if more houses are hidden somewhere in the forest.
Read the article in German here.
For background, read the CLEW article Germany’s coal commission insists no decision yet on exit date and the coal commission watch.