18 Oct 2018, 13:15
Sören Amelang Kerstine Appunn Benjamin Wehrmann

Germany's need for green fuel imports / Power-to-gas in coal regions?

Clean Energy Wire

The global energy transition will require the presence of a sizeable international market for synthetic fuels and Germany will have to import significant amounts of green fuels created by converting renewable energy with so-called power-to-x technologies, the head of the World Energy Council Germany, Uwe Franke, said at the industry body’s Energy Day in Berlin. “The age of the dominance of the combustion engine is over, alternatives are coming,” Franke said. But synthetic fuels will remain necessary to meet the emission reduction goals agreed in the Paris climate agreement, he said at the event, where the association presented a roadmap for a global power-to-x market produced by the Frontier Economics consultancy.
To achieve a large international market, the use of technologies that convert electricity into hydrogen, methane, synthetic petrol, etc. must be scaled up, quotas will have to be established, and targets for power-to-x will have to become part of the international climate agreements, the WEC writes. The reasons for Germany’s green fuel import needs are that space for generating electricity from renewables is limited in the country and power-to-x fuels could be produced significantly cheaper in other regions of the world, the report states.

Find the study in English here.

Read a CLEW factsheet on building an integrated energy system here, a factsheet on power-to-gas here and this week’s news on a pilot power-to-x plant by the North Sea here.

Clean Energy Wire

Large-scale installations used for storing renewable power as gas (power-to-gas) would be an interesting prospect for the east German lignite mining region of Lusatia, according to environment minister Svenja Schulze. Speaking at an event organised by the mining union IG BCE, Schulze said Germany can afford to take a fair share of its coal-fired power generation off the grid without endangering supply security because of its existing overcapacities. “Germany is no longer a climate protection pioneer. We have lost that role,” Schulze said, adding that she wanted the country to claim it back.
Schulze said it was important to continue discussions about a CO2 price for sectors not covered by the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS), such as transport and buildings. “It’s crazy that we fund the energy transition with higher power prices if we want to electrify other sectors like transport,” Schulze said. She called Germany’s climate targets “a huge chance – they are a modernisation programme for the economy.” Schulze said Germany needed climate protection as a driver for industry innovation. “Whoever doesn’t take part will be left behind. There is an enormous international demand for green energy solutions, and we have to stay in the lead.”
Mining union IG BCE head Michael Vassiliadis and Christian Kullmann, CEO of specialty chemicals company Evonik, flatly rejected an additional CO2 price in Germany alone. They criticised the current Energiewende policies for being too expensive, arguing that they favoured the climate over jobs, and that a hasty coal exit could endanger power supply security.

For background on plans to use storage technologies to facilitate the coal exit, read the dossier Electricity storage is next feat for Germany’s energy transition. For more on Lusatia, read the factsheet Germany’s three lignite mining regions. The dossier German industry embraces Energiewende transformation challenge has details on the energy transition’s impact on the economy.


A number of German states want the federal government to push for including synthetic fuels as an option to lower CO2 emissions from passenger cars in the upcoming EU trialogue on new emission targets for car fleets, Klaus Stratmann writes for the Handelsblatt.  The proposal tabled by the state of Schleswig-Holstein says that the focus of fleet regulation should be reducing CO2 emissions – regardless of the technology used. Synthetic fuels should be an option, just like battery-operated cars. The federal government has not agreed on an approach to synthetic fuels yet, the author says.

Read the article in German here.

Clean Energy Wire

The states of Brandenburg and North Rhine-Westphalia are pushing for stricter rules on minimum wind turbine distances near settlements and for curbing planning privileges that enable wind parks to be planned and built in less time. The Bundesrat, Germany’s council of state governments, will debate the suggestions on 19 October. Energy industry association BDEW and wind power association BWE have both strongly opposed the states’ ideas. The initiatives “run counter to the energy and climate policy efforts” of the country and “poison the investment climate,” BDEW head Stefan Kapferer said in a press release. Environmental organisation DUH said the initiatives could lead to a halt in wind energy expansion.

See the CLEW factsheets on onshore and offshore wind power in Germany for background.

The number of electric cars in Germany could rise to between 23 and 29 million by 2040, and building the necessary charging infrastructure will be a business worth billions of euros, according to a study conducted by Aurora Energy Research comparing the UK and Germany. Electric vehicles could require two to four million charging points at commercial and industrial sites, which will play a key role in the electrification of transport, because only around 60 percent of households have a parking space that can be equipped with the necessary infrastructure. Letting users pay for the power would offer viable business models for the necessary investment of up to eight billion euros, according to Aurora.

Find a press release on the study in German and English here.

Find a Bloomberg article on the study in English here.


Renewable power sources are not only competitive compared to conventional energies, they are also more and more sought after by industrialised and emerging nations alike, a report published by the consultancy Deloitte finds. As an example, the study cites offshore wind power as reaching price parity with coal power in Germany and Denmark, and onshore wind power in China, the US, Germany, India, Spain, France, Brazil, the UK, and Canada at the end of 2017.

Read the study in English here.

Transport & Environment

Many diesel cars affected by the looming driving bans in Germany for having too high exhaust emissions are being exported to eastern Europe and especially to Poland, where anti-pollution policies still are less severe, the NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) says in a press release. In 2017, 350,000 old diesel cars found their way from Germany to Poland, 40 percent of which had an average nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions level of 1,000 micrograms per kilometre, over twelve times the EU’s latest Euro 6 limit, T&E says. The NGO’s Jens Müller said the export of polluting diesel cars has to stop. “Problems caused by a mass manipulation of emission tests by carmakers must be fixed, not brushed under the carpet. All EU citizens have an equal right to clean air,” Müller said.

Find the press release in English here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet Diesel driving bans in Germany – The Q&A and the article Germany’s 'huge step' to solve diesel crisis leaves NGOs.


The German transport NGO Transport Club Germany (VCD) has been one of the most vocal critics of German car companies in the ongoing dieselgate emissions fraud scandal, but now it has re-included diesel vehicles in its ranking of eco-friendly cars. New diesel cars complying with Euro 6d-Temp emissions standard “are clean not only on the test stand but also on the road,” the VCD said. VCD head Wasilis von Rauch said that local air pollution with nitrogen oxide (NOx) remains the dominant concern, “but the biggest problem globally is the climate crisis,” which is why cars with low fuel consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions were needed. The transport club warned against buying regular Euro 6 diesel cars as these might also be affected by the “bitter but necessary driving bans,” adding that German carmakers “still do not act in a transparent manner and throw dirty and climate-damaging cars on the market en masse” three years after the diesel emissions scandal made the first headlines.

Read the press release 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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