30 Jan 2017, 00:00
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Germany starts offshore wind auctions / Power prices near record high

Federal Network Agency (BNetzA)

Germany’s grid regulator BNetzA starts its first call for tenders for offshore wind power plants, the Federal Network Agency said in a press release. After introducing tenders for new solar power plants, the BNetzA “now begins the transition to a competition-based support scheme also for offshore wind power” with an initial capacity of 1,550 megawatts. Bids exceeding a feed-in tariff of 12 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) will not be considered, it added.

Find the press release in German here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier The reform of the Renewable Energy Act.


385 primary power providers have increased their prices since the beginning of the year or announced price hikes within three months, the price comparison website check24 has said in a press release. For standard households with an annual consumption of 5,000 kilowatt hours, prices increased by 3.5 percent on average and sometimes by as much as 14.9 percent, causing the costs for basic services to “almost reach their all-time high from mid-2014,” check24 said. With respect to natural gas, however, “about seven million households benefit from falling prices,” the press release adds. Primary providers on average lowered their prices by 6.3 percent in 2017 or announced decreases by 1 April, the price comparison website has found. “Average prices for natural gas are currently at a historic low,” it said.

Find the press release in German here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet What German households pay for power.

SPD / Reuters

In a wide-ranging acceptance speech to members of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) after his nomination as Chancellor candidate, former President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz also spoke about environment and climate protection. Schulz said global climate agreements should not be the only focus, but also that sustainable agriculture at local level must be taken more seriously. "Protecting the environment is the central job of our generation. We cannot leave a poisoned legacy for our children and grandchildren," he said. The SPD currently governs in a "grand coalition" with Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU). In an Reuters article about the speech, Holger Hansen and Andreas Shalal write that "the SPD wants to form a coalition with smaller parties on the left, but most analysts still think another right-left coalition is the most likely outcome of September's election."
The centre-left SPD in a surprise move on Tuesday had announced it would nominate Schulz to replace current party leader Sigmar Gabriel.

Find the Reuters article in English here and Schulz’s speech in German here.

For election background read the CLEW dossier Vote2017 - German elections and the Energiewende.


Despite US president Donald Trump’s negative view of wind power, German energy companies are confident their investments in renewables in the US are not going to suffer from Trump’s policies, Jürgen Flauger and Franz Hubik write in the Handelsblatt. “We’re not involved in wind power because some president likes it or not, but because it’s a competitive technology that doesn’t have to fear competing with coal and gas,” utility innogy’s CEO Peter Terium said at a conference in Berlin, echoing similar remarks by E.ON’s CEO Johannes Teyssen at the same event. However, Terium said Trump’s administration could overturn a tax privilege for solar and wind power plants which, in turn, would make investments in renewables relatively less attractive, the authors write. But most wind energy projects in the US currently are based in Republican-led southern states, meaning that Trump “would get himself on some Republicans’ bad side,” Terium said.

Read the article in German here (behind paywall).

Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMUB)

Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks supports pilot projects in four cities that are experimenting with mobility alternatives to privately owned cars, the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMUB) has said in a press release. “One out of two car trips is shorter than five kilometres – for most distances bicycles and our own two feet are a real alternative,” Hendricks explained, adding that a transition to fewer car trips required creating the right conditions. According to the press release, the ministry will fund bike lanes, bike parking spaces, safe road crossings and other measures in the cities of Aachen, Kiel, Köln and Leipzig with one million euros.

Find the press release in German here.

For more information, see the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector.

Stuttgarter Zeitung

The construction of Germany’s largest pumped storage power station at the Schluchsee lake could be thwarted by a population of Whinchat birds, Eberhard Wein writes in the Stuttgarter Zeitung. Conservationists from Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) are convinced that the region around the lake in the Black Forest needs to be transformed into a nature preserve for the endangered birds, which would render an implementation of the 1.6 billion-euro project impossible, Wein writes. The Schluchseewerk-operators, however, are confident that the project eventually will be licensed, as it was “necessary for the sake of the Energiewende,” Wein explains.

For more information, see the CLEW factsheet How can Germany keep the lights on in a renewable energy future?

WirtschaftsWoche Online

Investing in German solar power plants can yield returns up to more than four percent, Hermann Klughardt, director of green energy fund voigt & collegen, said in an interview with WirtschaftsWoche. While governments in Spain and Italy cut feed-in tariffs for solar power in recent years, thereby “violating the law,” it was “extremely unlikely” a similar policy would be pursued in Germany, Klughardt says. Although Energiewende costs were hard to gauge and there was considerable pressure to lower power prices, Germany would stick to its guaranteed feed-in tariffs simply to keep the country’s premium credit rating, he says.

Read the interview in German here.

Midwest Energy News

The challenges that the US state of Ohio will face with its power grid will be similar to those that Germany is dealing with today, a situation that could provide some lessons learned, writes Kathiann Kowalski for US non-profit news site Midwest Energy News. “Ohio’s actual share of electricity from renewable sources is far less than Germany’s [about 30 percent] – only about two percent as of 2015,” but this would change over the coming two decades, writes Kowalski. According to experts, a rising share of renewables and a more flexible electricity grid could make baseload power superfluous, which would hugely change the makeup of the electricity system of the future.

Read the article in English here.

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

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The German energy system would become more complex, unfair and expensive if the government were to introduce support models for tenant electricity, as costs avoided by tenants would have to be paid by other consumers, writes Andreas Mihm in an opinion piece in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “The government should keep its hands off tenant power models and concentrate on the one goal: lowering CO₂ emissions,” writes Mihm.
One example of tenant power is electricity generated by solar PV panels on an apartment building and used by its tenants. Reduced surcharges, such as grid fees when the public power network is not needed, could make such solar arrays more attractive to landlords and tenants. The economy ministry (BMWi) had published an extensive study on tenant power last week.

For background read the CLEW dossier The People's Energiewende.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Power to hydrogen as a way to store excess electricity is currently too expensive, many modern gas-consuming devices could only deal with a small share of hydrogen in their fuel, and hydrogen has significantly less energy content per cubic metre than, for example, natural gas, writes Lukas Weber in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “Power to hydrogen is a fascinating technology. Yet, it somehow seems like all the advantages could be had cheaper elsewhere. That’s a pity,” writes Lukas Weber.

For background read the CLEW factsheet The role of biofuel and hydrogen in Germany's transport Energiewende.

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