German state cuts back lignite plans / A boost for citizens’ energy
North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW)
The cabinet of Germany’s most populous federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) has approved a new framework for lignite mining in the state, which confirms an earlier announcement to reduce originally-approved mining plans. NRW’s environment minister Johannes Remmel (Green Party) called the move to reduce plans from 1995 for the extension of the Garzweiler pit, first announced in 2014, “historical”. The decision ended decades of relocations of whole villages to make room for the open-cast pits. “For the first time a state government takes the decision to cut back an existing lignite (mining) plan,” Remmel told a press conference in the state capital of Düsseldorf. The head of the office of the state premier, Franz-Josef Lersch-Mense (Social Democrats), stressed that the decision did not include a time limit to lignite mining in the state in general. The decision reduced the amount of mineable lignite in the state by 400 million tonnes, he said. The government also banned fracking in the state.
Read background on lignite mining and coal in Germany in a CLEW factsheet.
The German federal government cabinet has decided on a draft law for the ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement. Once the parliament passes the law, Germany has done its bit to ratify the climate treaty. The ratification law would also be “the basis for all future climate protection laws in Germany”, a government press release says. “We will try to go through with the whole process before the Climate Conference in Marrakesh begins,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said. As soon as all member states have ratified the treaty, the European Parliament will decide the ratification and the EU can pass on the ratification to the UN.
Read the press release in German here.
Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy
The federal government cabinet has today decided on the draft budget for 2017 – which now has to be approved by parliament. The economy and energy department will be allocated 7.4 billion euros, 3 billion of which will be used in research, development and innovation, the ministry said. In order to implement the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables, the ministry will use a total of 4 billion euros. This will include 1.1 billion euros to fund the measures under the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency (NAPE), as well as support for energy research, efficiency, renewable energies and housing insulation. Another 2.9 billion euros will be used in the energy and climate fund which will include support for electric cars.
Read the press release in German and the draft budget here.
DGRV – Cooperatives
The number of new renewable energy cooperatives has decreased by another 25 percent in 2015, compared to 2014 figures, cooperatives association DGRV found in a survey. Last year saw the establishment of 40 new cooperatives. But the boom years are over, particularly because the “economic boundaries for new solar PV projects were restricting the activities of energy cooperatives”, DGRV chairman Eckhard Ott said in a press release. The new auctions for renewables were a further hurdle for citizen energy projects, he said.
The government coalition has agreed last-minute changes to the contested reform of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) in order to boost citizen energy projects, reports Michael Bauchmüller in Süddeutsche Zeitung. Citizen energy projects need to participate at renewable auctions from next year, but they will automatically receive the highest feed-in tariff successful at the tender. “This leaves the door open for citizen energy,” said MP Josef Göppel from the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU). In addition, regional states are free to bolster citizen projects by other means, according to Bauchmüller. The reform of the Renewable Energy Act is to be agreed by parliament on Friday.
Read the article in German here.
For background, consult the new CLEW dossier The reform of the Renewable Energy Act, the factsheet EEG reform 2016 – switching to auctions for renewables, as well as the dossier The People's Energiewende.
A study by environmental groups adding up premature deaths caused by coal power stations in neighbouring countries is a horrifying calculation reminiscent of war times, writes Marlene Weiss in Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Has the European Energy Union really fallen so low that we need to count deathly victims to get something moving?” asks Weiss. She says the CO2 emitted by the power stations did not care about state borders. “The whole world has to bear the damage to the climate. The still-prevalent idea that the form of power generation is the states’ own business is absurd anyway.”
Read the article in German here.
Find the study in yesterday’s news digest here.
Siemens has launched a new offshore wind turbine with a capacity of 8 megawatts, promising a 10 per cent increase in annual energy production compared to its previous 7MW model, reports BusinessGreen. The German engineering giant, currently in the process of boosting its wind energy business through the proposed takeover of Spanish turbine manufacturer Gamesa, hailed it as "another significant step towards grid parity for offshore wind", according to the report.
Read the article in English here.
Europe’s car industry will be able to continue using exhaust emission systems for which exceeding the exhaust values is in many cases permitted, Nikolaus Doll writes in Die Welt. The German government has failed to have the part of an EU regulation (Article 5 in regulation 715/2007) altered to limit the issue, according to the paper’s sources. The government wanted to achieve that less exceptions for turning off the emission cleaning systems (with so called defeat devices) would be allowed in European cars, the articles says. But industry commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska has rejected the German idea, saying that Article 5 was phrased clear enough, it just needed to be applied correctly.
Read the article in German here.
Germany has capped the expansion of offshore wind power to 3.1 gigawatts (GW) between 2021 and 2025 because the high-voltage power lines needed to carry green energy from the windy north to the industrial south will not be ready, report Andreas Rinke and Caroline Copley for Reuters. The revision of the new energy law, seen by Reuters, also sets out the size of tenders for new offshore projects. For 2017, 1.7 GW will be auctioned, while in 2018 this will be cut to 1.4 GW.
Find the report in English here.