“Coalition wants to push through fracking law on Friday”
The government has scheduled the Bundestag vote on a law restricting fracking in Germany for this Friday, writes Spiegel Online. Leaders of the two parties in the coalition government (Christian and Social Democrats) have agreed on a compromise that “virtually bars” unconventional fracking in Germany, said Armin Laschet, deputy chairman of the Christian Democratic Union. The law is to limit the number of test drillings, which will be subject to approval by federal states. Green Party energy spokesperson Julia Verlinden said the draft did not do enough to restrict fracking, and was being hurried through parliament. The government is under pressure to pass the law in order to close a loophole in current legislation, after energy companies threatened to start the permit process.
Read the article in German here.
VW’s announcement that new investment in diesel engines will become questionable can be seen as the carmaker’s Energiewende, writes Thomas Fromm in Süddeutsche Zeitung. Diesel cars will not disappear from the streets, but the technology will be phased out, Fromm says. All major German carmakers need to confront the problem that diesel cars constitute the majority of sales. “From diesel to e-car: It’s now about financing the energy transition," Fromm writes. "It would have come cheaper had they started earlier.”
In an opinion piece in the same newspaper, Peter Fahrenholz says it is far from clear whether carmakers can manage the required cultural change. “Until now, the combustors call the shots – not only because they are a majority, but because it’s deep within the companies’ DNA. And suddenly the electro weirdos in the chaotic basement are meant to set the tone?”
Read the opinion piece in German here.
For background, read the CLEW dossier: The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector.
“Daimler changes course”
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche is preparing a “radical transition” to alternative engines, report Markus Fasse and Martin Murphy in business daily Handelsblatt. Insiders told the authors Daimler is planning a sub-brand for electric cars, which will probably launch with an electric offroad vehicle next year. By 2020, electric vehicles across the entire model range will be able to drive 500 kilometres on a single charge and challenge Tesla’s dominance in the sector. Insiders close to Zetsche said the transition to e-cars will arrive faster than many in the industry expected, Fasse and Murphy report. Daimler declined to comment on the information.
Read the article in German (behind paywall) here.
“Getting rid of it fast”
Czech investor EPH's planned takeover of Vattenfall’s German lignite business is a high-risk move, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Falling power prices, rising emissions costs, and the government deciding on an early coal exit could all hit the operations hard. And the cost of recultivating the land will remain “long after the last gram of lignite is mined”, the article says. The Swedish government, which owns Vattenfall, must approve the takeover and is expected to decide this week. Greenpeace Germany has written letters to the German state premiers of Saxony and Brandenburg where the mines are located, demanding they work towards preventing the sale, according to a separate press release.
Read the article in German here.
“With joined forces”
North German company Nordgröön is helping to market locally generated renewable energy to the households by creating a virtual power plant from several hundred solar-, wind-, and biogas-plants, Steffen Ermisch writes in a Handelsblatt supplement on renewables and energy efficiency. If power is used locally, the public is more accepting on the plants, and power plant operators can earn more than the set feed-in tariffs. According to PwC there are around 100 virtual power plants operating in Germany with 50 companies providing services similar to Nordgröön's. Municipal utilities and energy company RWE (with a project called "Smartpool") are also entering the market.
“Infographic: Can Germany’s Energiewende ensure supply security?”
The German Foreign Office has posted an infographic on EurActiv explaining how Germany’s Energiewende can ensure security of supply.
University of Stuttgart
“Low energy costs have little influence on efficiency strategies”
Only 12 percent of German companies hold off on investment in energy efficiency when energy costs are low, according to a survey by the Institute for Energy Efficiency of the University of Stuttgart (EEP). 41 percent of large companies say they would even increase investment during times of low energy costs. However, the energy efficiency index, which tracks efficiency across German industry, fell to 1.84 for the first half of 2016, compared to 2.8 in the previous period. “This could be the result of the current political turbulence surrounding new regulations,” said Alexander Sauer, head of the EEP.
Read the press release in German here.
See CLEW's dossier on efficiency here.