14 Feb 2018, 00:00
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Germany mulls free public transport in cities to curb emissions

Clean Energy Wire

In a bid to avoid EU fines for excessive air pollution, the German government is considering plans to make public transport free of charge to improve air quality in cities. Transport experts welcomed the proposed measures designed to lure more people onto buses, trams, and the underground, but said that this surprising proposal was half-baked and lacked crucial details, such as how such a policy could be financed. In a letter addressed to EU Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella and seen by the Clean Energy Wire, German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, a Social Democrat, Finance Minister Peter Altmaier, and Transport Minister Christian Schmidt (both conservatives) write that “together with the [federal states] and the local level, we are considering public transport free of charge in order to reduce the number of private cars.” At a meeting held in Brussels in January, the European Commission had granted Germany a last deadline to propose concrete measures on how it intends to comply with the European Union’s air quality standards.

Find background on the diesel technology’s impact on clean air and climate in the CLEW article Why the German diesel summit matters for climate and energy.

Please note: The Clean Energy Wire will publish an article on this topic later today.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

The German proposal to consider free public transport in cities is an “overdue revolution” needed to shift mobility away from individual transport and thereby reducing air and noise pollution in inner cities, writes Michael Bauchmüller in an opinion piece in Süddeutsche Zeitung. Currently, buses and trains are often not competitive due to high ticket prices. Making public transport free would cost a lot of money, also because more passengers would use it. “The payoff are cities with a better quality of life; with less noise and better air quality for all,” writes Bauchmüller.

Find the opinion piece in German here.

Find background on the diesel technology’s impact on clean air and climate in the CLEW article Why the German diesel summit matters for climate and energy.

Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy

Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy SA has won exclusivity for the supply and service of turbines for Ørsted’s 1,386 megawatt Hornsea Project Two offshore wind farm in British waters, the company has announced in a press release. This offshore wind farm will be the world's biggest when it becomes operational in 2022. It is also the largest offshore project in Siemens Gamesa's history, according to the press release. The nacelles  - the part that houses all of the generating components in a wind turbine, including the generator, gearbox, drive train, and brake assembly – will be produced at a new factory in Cuxhaven, Germany, while the majority of the blades will be made at a factory in Hull, UK, where the pre-assembly work will also be carried out, writes Siemens Gamesa.

Find the press release in English here.

For background on the German wind power industry, read the CLEW dossier Onshore wind power in Germany.

Agora Verkehrswende / Institute for Applied Ecology (Öko-Institut)

By 2030, the total purchase, maintenance and operation costs of a battery electric vehicle will be significantly lower than those of a conventional car that emits the same amount of greenhouse gases, according to a study published by the Institute for Applied Ecology (Öko-Institut) and commissioned by the think tank Agora Verkehrswende. The emissions of conventional vehicles would be lowered by adding 100 percent renewable fuel (power-to-liquids, PtL) to diesel and petrol. The purchase, maintenance, and operation of an e-car would cost 5 to 23 percent less than even its cheapest conventional alternative, calculated on the basis of today’s regulatory and tax framework. This is mainly due to low maintenance and repair costs, as well as to low energy costs, which compensate for the high purchase price, says the study. The smaller the e-car’s range, the greater the cost advantage, write the researchers.

Find the study in German here.

For background, read the CLEW News Digest item Selective use of synthetic fuels essential to help decarbonise German transport, industry and heating – think tanks.

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

Zeit Online

The coalition agreement between Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democrats (SPD) would mean that citizens’ energy projects will lose a key advantage in Germany’s renewables auction system, writes Marlies Uken for Zeit Online. The coalition agreement states that only projects that have been green-lighted under the immission control legislation will be able to take part in future auctions. Until now, the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) has allowed citizens’ projects to submit bids without having to obtain a license beforehand, and also granted them a longer implementation period.These enabled them to become "big winners" in the first three rounds of onshore wind auctions. Should citizens’ energy projects lose this privilege, “small initiatives would have close to no chance in the auction process,” writes Uken.

Read the article in German here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet High hopes and concerns over onshore wind power auctions and From survey to harvest: How to build a wind farm in Germany.

Spiegel Online

Solar energy is abundant in Egypt, and the Arab world’s most populous country builds on Germany’s expertise and experience in pushing its transition towards renewable power sources, Nermine Kotb writes on Spiegel Online. “Prices for solar cells and wind power have for long been much too high for the country,” Kotb says, “but renewable energy has become competitive – and Egypt has high ambitions.” Egypt “closely cooperates with Germany, which is seen as a pioneer in green energy,” the Egyptian author writes. The German development bank KfW has provided financial assistance for two wind farms in the country, and an Egyptian-German committee on renewable energy and energy efficiency in Cairo aims to improve the energy consumption of household appliances and advise Egyptians on efficient energy use. “The successful German tool of feed-in tariffs for clean energy was also adopted by Egypt in 2014,” she says.

Read the article in German here.

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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