28 Jun 2017, 00:00
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Germany to align power grid fees / More "realistic" car emission tests

Social Democratic Party (SPD)

The German government has reached a compromise on aligning contested regional differences in power grid fees paid by consumers, according to the Social Democratic Party (SPD). “According to the draft law, grid fees will be aligned in four yearly steps starting in 2019 […] The agreement heralds a uniform grid fee and therefore a fair distribution of power costs on a federal level,” said Carsten Schneider, the vice head of the SPD parliamentary group, in a press release.
Grid fees paid by consumers in regions with a high share of renewables, mainly in eastern and northern Germany, are around twice as high as in western economic powerhouse North Rhine-Westphalia.
To avoid a steep rise in power costs for energy-intensive businesses, these will no longer have to pay for the connection of offshore wind farms in the future, according to the draft law. The government also agreed to keep certain support payments for smaller combined heat and power plants.

Find the SPD press release in German here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheets Power grid fees – Unfair and opaque? and What German households pay for power.

VKU / BDEW / bne

The Association of Local Utilities (VKU) said the support for combined heat and power plants in the grid fee agreement was a “strong signal for the value of decentral generation” and created planning security. “Municipal utilities can now work intensively on a decentral energy transition, the expansion of combined heat and power, and climate protection in the cities”.
Utility association BDEW said “it would have been absurd to put a massive burden on climate-friendly combined heat and power and pumped-storage hydropower plants”.
The Association of Energy Market Innovators (BNE) said a more fundamental reform of grid fees remained essential. “Many of the existing rules are an obstacle to the necessary transition to flexible demand.” The association, which represents grid-independent energy suppliers and energy service companies, was critical of the fact that costs of offshore connections will be added to power consumption fees. It said higher power prices were counterproductive to the necessary integration of the power, heat, and transport sectors. 

Find the BDEW press release in German here, the VKU press release here, and the bne release here.

Federal Ministry of Transport / Federal Ministry for the Environment

Germany’s transport ministry (BMVI) and the country’s carmakers have agreed to form a joint institute to ensure more “transparent” and “realistic” exhaust emissions tests, the BMVI has said in a press release. The institute, dubbed DIVEM (German Institute for Consumption and Emissions Measuring) will also involve consumer protection organisations, municipalities and NGOs, and will make its “real traffic” results available to the public on an online platform.
The transport ministry, together with Germany’s environment ministry (BMUB), will also set up a “National Diesel Forum” to “bundle” the debate on how NOx emissions of diesel cars can be reduced while guaranteeing diesel car owners mobility, according to transport minister Alexander Dobrindt. “The national forum allows carmakers to make good on lost trust,” environment minister Barbara Hendricks said in another BMVI press release, adding: “I hope they will seize this opportunity.”

See the press release on the joint institute in German here and on the national forum in German here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier German carmakers and the Energiewende.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

German state secretary in the economy ministry Rainer Baake welcomed the EU energy ministers’ agreement on energy savings targets, but said that Germany would have wished for binding provisions, writes Hendrik Kafsack in an article for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The federal government “apparently bets on” re-introducing stricter targets in the negotiations that now follow in the European Parliament, before the targets become law, writes Kafsack.

Read the article in German here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier Germany's energy transition in the European context.

Frankfurter Rundschau / Association for a national CO₂ levy

All German energy-related taxes and levies should be substituted by a national price on greenhouse gas emissions (CO₂ levy), which would increase continuously over the coming years, according to a proposal by the newly-founded association for a national CO₂ levy, reports Joachim Wille in Frankfurter Rundschau. With its discussion paper, the association aims to feed into and forward the debate on a climate levy, which needed to be supported by a broad alliance of citizens, NGOs and companies, writes the association. The association’s membership comprises individuals and more than 40 companies, such as the ecologic GLS bank.

Find more information on the association’s website in German here and the proposal in German here

For background, read the CLEW factsheet Germany ponders how to finance renewables expansion in the future.

Energie & Management

The new governing coalition in Germany’s most populous federal state North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) may not care too much about climate protection despite ambitious promises, Ralf Köpke writes in a commentary for Energie & Management. The conservative-economic liberal (CDU-FDP) government of the state that is responsible for one third of German CO2-emissions is intent on doing away with the climate protection law initiated by NRW’s previous government, curbing wind power expansion, working towards abolishing the Renewable Energies Act (EEG) on the federal level, and clinging on to powering the region with local hard coal. “A coal exit date is lacking in the coalition agreement, RWE can look forward to continue digging well into the 2040s,” Köpke says. “Welcome to energy policy backwood-land,” he says.

Read the article in German here.

For more information, see the CLEW dossier Vote2017 – German elections and the Energiewende.

Neues Deutschland

Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) seem to “avoid every impression they regard coal as a phase-out model”, Jörg Staude writes in socialist newspaper Neues Deutschland. While the party stated in its election programme that it wanted to strengthen regional economies and help them shift away from coal-mining as a fundament while retaining “their industrial tradition”, the coal exit itself seems to remain “some sort of taboo word”, Staude argues.

Read the article in German here (behind paywall).

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