Germany's hunger for natural gas / "No plans" to change diesel tax
Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources
The transformation of Germany’s energy system is likely to increase the demand for natural gas of the world’s biggest importer even further, a study by the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) said. “We can expect a significant growth in demand for natural gas, both in Germany and worldwide”, Harald Andruleit of the BGR said in a press release. Germany accounts for almost one quarter of the EU’s natural gas imports and with a consumption of over 100 billion cubic metres per year, “it’s among the world’s largest consumers”, the BGR said. A reduction in European production means Germany is likely to become more dependent on imports from outside the EU, especially from Russia and the Middle East, it argued. The BGR said that renewables today accounted for 17 percent of the world’s primary energy consumption and were the fastest growing energy source. However, fossil energy use was also growing and additional renewable capacities were mostly used to cover growing energy demand.
Find the study in German here.
See the CLEW factsheet Germany’s dependence on imported fossil fuels for background.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
The German government has rejected a proposal by VW CEO Matthias Müller to abolish the tax privilege for diesel cars, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. “There are currently no plans by the federal government to change the taxation of diesel cars”, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said. Acting transport minister Christian Schmidt also opposed another remark by Müller on introducing a so-called blue badge for vehicles meant to prevent vehicles with very high emissions from entering inner cities. “It’s quite surprising that the car industry calls for driving bans”, Schmidt said, adding that the scheme amounted to “expropriation of millions of diesel car owners”. The transport ministry argued there already was a “powerful ad-hoc programme” in place to improve air quality and prevent driving bans. However, the environment ministry seconded Müller by saying that diesel cars only merited a tax break if they are more environmentally friendly. “It doesn’t look like that’s the case for now”, a spokeswoman of environment minister Barbara Hendricks said.
Read the article in German here.
See the CLEW Dieselgate timeline for more information.
Reuters / manager-magazin.de
The German industry heavyweight Siemens has signed contracts worth about 700 million euros with the government of Libya to build two gas-fired power plants in the war-torn north African country, news agency Reuters reports. The company, which recently announced to cut thousands of jobs in its fossil power division, will add about 1.3 gigawatts to the country’s installed power generation capacity, Reuters says.
In a separate article on manager-magazin.de, Siemens CEO Joes Kaeser says the project in Libya was not going to alter the company’s plans to axe nearly 7,000 jobs in its fossil power division.
A new project by grid operator Tennet will facilitate the power supply from Germany’s offshore wind parks to the densely populated regions in the country’s west, business magazine stadt+werk reports. Tennet recently started construction of the extra-high voltage line from the North Sea to the Lower Rhine region further south, the article says. The new transmission line, which is slated for completion by 2021, was going to supply the western region both with offshore and onshore wind power from the north and provide important experience for constructing underground transmission cables, Tennet CEO Lex Hartman said.
Read the article in German here.
See the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s power grid for more information.
The Green Party is “still ready for talks” on becoming part of a possible government coalition in Germany, the party’s parliamentary group co-leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt has said in an interview with Welt Online. She said that her party would be ready for talks on forming a minority government with Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance as well as for a renewal of talks on a so-called Jamaica coalition with the conservatives and the pro-business FDP, which dropped out of exploratory consultations in late November. “Germany needs an ecologic and future-oriented government”, Göring-Eckardt said, arguing that a possible renewal of the coalition between the conservatives and the Social Democrats (SPD) would mean a “standstill” for German politics. However, she added that a minority government with the conservatives would only work for the Greens if it was possible to secure parliamentary majorities for important policy proposals, “such as the coal exit”.
Find the interview in German here (behind paywall).
See CLEW’s Coalition Watch for updates on Germany’s attempts to form a government.
German Wind Energy Association (BWE)
The use of 930 terawatt-hours of renewable gases could provide enough flexibility to sustain a greenhouse-gas neutral energy system in Germany by 2050, a study by energy advisors (enervis) for the German Wind Energy Association (BWE) and the association of natural gas storage operators (INES) finds. Existing storage facilities and the network for natural gas could be used for renewable gases and provide the necessary flexibility for the energy system and save money in the heating sector, the authors say. The gas would be generated from renewable sources in a “power-to-gas” process.
Find the press release and study in German here.
See the CLEW factsheet How can Germany keep the lights on in a renewable energy future? for background.
Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung
The fact that offshore wind turbines produce more power than previously thought is good news in the long run but might currently rather lead to more problems, Jens Heitmann writes in an opinion piece for the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung. “If the nuclear reactors are gone and later also the coal plants, it’s commendable for an industrialised country to have at least one reliable source of power”, Heitmann says. However, before Germany has expanded its grid capacity to transfer electricity from the windy north to industrial centres in the south, the additional load by offshore turbines that produce power almost all year round will “aggravate” the problem of clogged grids, he argues. Neighbouring countries like Denmark of Poland already have to cope with Germany’s excessive power production, which is why the European Commission ponders to split the German power market in two different price zones in the north and in the south, Heitmann says. “That’s why it would be prudent for Germany to finish its power transmission lines that run through the country before pondering the construction of new offshore wind parks in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea“, he writes.
See the CLEW dossier Onshore wind power in Germany for information.