30 Apr 2018, 00:00
Kerstine Appunn Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Germany's coal states weigh in on exit commission / CO2 price dispute

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The four major German coal states demand a “stronger voice” in the planned commission tasked with preparing the end of coal-fired power production in the country, Andreas Mihm writes in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. In a letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel, the state premiers of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Brandenburg, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt say the so-called “special commission on growth, structural economic change and employment” should consist of at least two envoys from each coal state, from affected municipalities, the industry, labour unions, scientists and others. They do not say environmental organisations should be part of the commission, even though they are mentioned in the federal government’s coalition treaty, Mihm writes. The commission is supposed to find an end date for coal power in Germany in 2018 and define ways to manage the structural change.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW article New government gets little credit in quest to regain climate lead and the CLEW factsheet Coal in Germany for more information.


The grand coalition of the conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) disagree on the possible introduction of a price on CO₂ emissions in sectors not covered by the European Union Emissions Trading System (ETS), write Jakob Schlandt and Nora Marie Zaremba in Tagesspiegel. After environment minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) had indicated support for the idea in a newspaper interview with the Tagesspiegel, members of the governing parties locked horns at a debate in parliament last week. While Schulze said it made little sense to burden electricity with taxes and levies, while not putting a reasonable CO₂ price on fossil energy sources, Christian Democrat finance politician Hermann-Josef Tebroke flat out rejected it: “We say no to a price on CO₂.” Other Conservatives argued that a national carbon price would be “immensely expensive” and put jobs at risk.

Read the article in German here.

For background, read the News Digest piece Environment minister urges discussion on CO₂ pricing, the article German environment minister open to national carbon price, and the factsheet Germany ponders how to finance renewables expansion in the future.

Federal Network Agency

The winter power capacity reserve, designed to keep the grid stable in critical situations, will be reduced by one third for 2018/2019 compared to previous winters, the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) announced. The capacity of power plants in the reserve will be reduced to 6,000 megawatt from previously 10,400 megawatt and it will be made up of German power stations only. The main reason for the reduced need for back-up capacity was the split between the German and Austrian power market price zones as of October 2018, the Bundesnetzagentur said. Power export to Austria despite grid bottlenecks caused the need for more reserve power stations in the past. Grid agency president Jochen Homann said that only a timely grid expansion was going to keep reserve capacity needs down in the long-term.

Read the press release in German here.

Read a CLEW dossier on the grid expansion here.

Read a CLEW factsheet on cross-border power trading and European issues of the German grid here.

German Wind Energy Association / German Engineering Federation

New zero-support bids and an average support level of 4.66 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) in Germany’s second offshore wind power auction confirm an ongoing trend in cost reduction in the sector, the German Wind Energy Association (BWE) said in a press release together with other wind industry organisations.  The jump of the average support compared to the 0.44 cent/kWh in the first auction was caused by a quota for turbine in the Baltic Sea. Up to half of the auctioned capacity of 1,610 megawatt (MW) is supposed to be installed in the Baltic Sea, which led to “less competition”, the BWE said. Conditions in the Baltic are “more complex” and the projects are scheduled for completion by 2022, which had pushed costs further, the wind power lobby group said. The government should now put the remaining grid connection capacity of about 800 MW up for auction quickly to ensure a swift further expansion.
The German Engineering Federation (VDMA) said the second auction has been “a success” and demonstrates that “the market is working”. “The average support of offshore wind power now is similar to that of other power sources,” VDMA head Matthias Zelinger said in the release. The federation explained that projects in the second auction are scheduled for completion before those winning in the first auction, which is why bidders could not bank on the same level of technologic progress when determining the price in the auction. 

Find the press release in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet on German offshore wind power for background.

dpa / Spiegel Online

Germany’s environment minister Svenja Schulze says the carmakers implicated in the ongoing diesel emissions fraud scandal are capable of financing a hardware retrofitting of manipulated cars, news agency dpa reports in an article carried by Spiegel Online. “The coalition treaty says that we want to retrofit the vehicles if this is technically possible and economically viable,” Schulze says, adding that “both conditions are fulfilled.” Costs per vehicle amount to 1,000 to 3,000 euro, according to a government report. The social democratic minister said this was not too much to protect public health and avoid driving bans, which in turn would diminish the value of affected diesel cars. The costs could be reduced if carmakers cooperate, Schulze said. “What is clear is that the manufacturers have to pay for retrofitting as they have caused this problem.”  

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet on diesel driving bans for background.


The German government plans to compensate operators of the country’s nuclear power plants with about one billion euros for the nuclear policy U-turn in 2011, Malte Kreutzfeldt writes in the tageszeitung (taz). The nuclear power companies had sued because they said they lost potential revenue as a consequence of the decision of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government in the wake of the nuclear incident in Fukushima to speed up the phase-out of nuclear power again.  Merkel’s decision came just months after her government prolonged the plants’ remaining lifetime the companies negotiated with the government of her predecessor, Gerhard Schröder. Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court ruled in 2016 that the accelerated nuclear exit had been lawful in principle but ordered that the companies be compensated for some of the revenue lost due to the change in policy. The nuclear companies initially demanded about 19 billion euro in compensation. But the German environment ministry (BMU), which is tasked with settling the issue, says the plant operators are more likely to receive a sum “somewhere in the range below one billion euro”, Kreutzfeldt writes. The draft of the necessary changes to the law has been sent to the other ministries. The court has set a 30 June deadline to fix the issue.

Find the article in German here.

See the CLEW article Germany's constitutional court backs speedy nuclear exit and the CLEW dossier The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out for background.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Utility EnBW starts a field test to find out how a large number of electric cars in a concentrated area affect grid stability, Susanne Preuß and Thiemo Heeg write in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “What happens if everyone plugs in their car when they come home in the evening?” is one of the most pressing questions the test is supposed to answer, the article says. The power grid can only be kept stable if the same amount of electricity that is withdrawn is simultaneously fed in again, which is why grid operators have to know the demand pattern of e-car users in as much detail as possible, the authors write. The company provides the e-cars, from BMW to Tesla, to ten families in Ostfildern near Stuttgart for six months. The neighbourhood has been chosen since it represents “a typical suburban residential area,” where people on average commute a lot.

See the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s power grid for more information.

Federal Environment Ministry

Representatives of hundreds of cities from around the world meet in Bonn in the framework of the UN Climate Change Conference in the former German capital to discuss mitigation measures against global warming and other policies necessary to reduce emissions, the German environment ministry (BMU) said in a press release. The international city network ICLEI  connects over 1,500 cities worldwide, including 22 from Germany, to share experiences with climate protection measures and cooperation on global warming. “Cities and regions have a key role to play in climate protection,” said BMU state secretary Jochen Flasbarth.

Find the press release in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet about cities’ role in the German energy transition for background.

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