09 Feb 2017, 00:00
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Germany pushes G20 on climate - report / No lignite mine extensions?

[Correction: The article “Deceptive growth” appeared in Handelsblatt, not Süddeutsche Zeitung. Also corrects name of German energy exchange EEX (not EXX) in article “Blockchain is not a feared enemy (yet)”.]


G20 president Germany will press the Group to reaffirm its commitment to fighting climate change when finance ministers meet next month for the first time since the election of Donald Trump, G20 sources said, report Noah Barkin and Jan Strupczewski for Reuters. "The Chinese want the G20 to reaffirm the importance of free trade, a cooperative financial order, and the fight against climate change," one German official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. "The challenge is to do this without giving it an anti-US flavour."

Read the report in English here.

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW)

There will be no need to extend Germany’s open pit lignite mines if the country sticks to its climate protection targets, the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) writes in a press release. Lignite reserves in already-approved mines were sufficient to allow for power generation in line with climate targets until 2030, a study conducted by the DIW’s energy division found. Politicians must now “come up with a plan for a socially acceptable coal phase-out”, DIW-energy economist Claudia Kemfert said.

Read the press release in German here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier The energy transition and climate change and the factsheet When will Germany finally ditch coal?

The growth of wind energy last year clearly surpassed government targets, while solar additions lagged behind, writes Craig Morris on But if the government sticks to its target of 40 to 45 percent renewable power by 2025, renewables might face steep cutbacks in the future because current trends indicate an overshooting.

Read the blog entry in English here.

Deutsche Welle

Dark and calm winter days have led some commentators to suggest that renewables are unsuitable for providing a secure energy supply, reports Tamsin Walker for Deutsche Welle. Utility association BDEW argues this weather pattern proves flexible gas and coal power stations are needed to integrate renewables into the power system. But green energy provider Lichtblick told the author the problem is solvable because Germany is on the cusp of a whole new era in the way renewable power can be stored.

Read the story in English here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet How can Germany keep the lights on in a renewable energy future?


A particularly dark and windless January has led to natural gas and coal plants becoming Germany’s sole warrantor of a secure power supply, Jürgen Flauger writes in Handelsblatt. But “coal and gas plants are increasingly being pushed out of the market,” Flauger writes, even though “on some days, wind and solar power sources for the most part lay idle due to the weather”. A “fossil back-up” would therefore remain “necessary for a few decades”, Norbert Schwieters, of consulting firm PwC, told the newspaper. But current power prices made it difficult to operate conventional power plants without losses, which is why Matthias Hartung, manager at utility RWE, is convinced that “we’re bound to have a capacity market”.

Read the article in German here (behind paywall).

For background, read the CLEW factsheet How can Germany keep the lights on in a renewable energy future?

The Guardian

German wind power expansion accounted for 44 percent of total capacity growth across Europe in 2016, Adam Vaughan reports for the Guardian. There was an “increasingly small number of countries connecting serious amounts of new wind power” in the EU. Germany – which already boasts three times more wind power than any other country in Europe – led the field, Vaughan writes. But despite the shrinking number of countries adding substantial wind power capacities, the total share of renewables in new power sources added to European electricity grids stood at almost 90 percent (21.1 gigawatt) last year, he explains. “Wind power overtook coal to become the EU’s second largest form of power capacity after gas,” Vaughan writes, adding that the still-more dependable power source coal met a larger share of Europe’s electricity demand.

Read the article in English here.

For background, see the CLEW dossier Germany’s energy transition in the European context.


Rapid wind power development in Germany is not a sign of the Energiewende’s success - and the biggest changes in the country’s energy system are yet to come, writes Klaus Stratmann in an opinion piece in Handelsblatt. The transition was not just about expanding renewables, but “until now there are only hazy ideas on how to reach the next step of the Energiewende”, writes Stratmann. To take into account the volatility of renewable sources meant to “search for new possibilities to use the excess power [and to] ensure that enough reserves are available at times of low wind and little sun”, writes Stratmann.

Read the opinion piece (behind paywall) in German here.

For background read the CLEW factsheet How can Germany keep the lights on in a renewable energy future?


German energy company innogy will take part in the country’s first call for tenders for offshore wind power plants with a 280 megawatt capacity project near the island of Heligoland in the North Sea, reports Jürgen Flauger for Handelsblatt. Innogy’s renewables focus over the coming years, however, will be onshore wind power expansion in Germany and Great Britain, Chief Operating Officer Renewables Hans Bünting said at an energy conference in Essen.

Read the article in German here.

Der Tagesspiegel

The digital transaction technology blockchain is regarded by some as the death knell for energy providers, while others believe it is far from being mature and applicable, Susanne Ehlerding writes in Der Tagesspiegel. “We don’t panic,” Maximilian Rinck, from Germany’s energy exchange EEX, told the newspaper. He added that transmission grids were not going to be dominated by blockchain any time soon. But Phillip Richard, of the German energy agency dena, said blockchain will allow for savings on grid expansion and fees as power can be sold and billed directly via local distribution grids. “Before blockchain can succeed, it has to solve its own energy problem,” Ehlerding adds. “Transactions are very costly as they have to be booked on all participants’ accounts,” she explains. 

Read the article in German here.

For more information, see the CLEW factsheet How much German households pay for power.

German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW)

Regulatory hurdles hamper flexible energy storage systems from contributing to their full potential to the success of Germany’s energy transition, Stefan Kapferer, head of utilities lobby BDEW, said in a press release. “It’s time energy storages received a legal and regulatory classification that reflects their importance and allows for a fair competition,” Kapferer said. Classifying storages as “end users” and demanding grid fees both for charging and discharging the systems was a “double burden that is put on no other technology”, Kapferer explained. Energy storages in other European countries did not have to put up with this kind of liability, leading to distorted competition on the continent, he added.

Read the press release in German here.

For background on storage solutions, read the CLEW dossier New technologies for the Energiewende.

acatech / Leopoldina / Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities

The planet holds enough natural resources needed for the global energy transition, write research institutes acatech, Leopoldina and Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities in a report. But the uneven distribution creates the need for fair international agreements to support private trade, as well as enhanced metal recycling, the report states. With a successful energy transition, the need for coal, oil and natural gas decreases - but imports of various metals to Germany become more important, write the institutes in a press release. The country could also extract some metals within its borders, such as indium and germanium, cobalt, copper and nickel.

Find the press release in German here and the report in German here.

Die Welt

Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks believes the country might introduce a scrappage bonus for cars with combustion engines in a few years’ time. “It can’t be ruled out. We don’t have to take a decision on it in the coming two or three years. A sufficient amount of renewable power in the market is a precondition,” Hendricks told Die Welt newspaper in an interview.

dpa/Spiegel Online

Insolvency administrators believe e-cars will lead to the loss of more than 100,000 jobs in the German car supplier industry, according to a report by newswire dpa carried by Spiegel Online. Many companies will not manage the transition, said Martin Prager, who heads the insolvency working group in the German lawyers’ association.

Read the article in German here.

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