23 Nov 2017, 00:00
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Gov advisers call for e-car quota / Wind & solar's hunger for land

Corrects item entitled 'Giant battery “the Energiewende’s magic potion”? ' - According to data from the operator EWE, the battery can supply 75,000 households for one day. The article from the WirtschaftsWoche erroneously stated that it can supply 75 households.

Clean Energy Wire

The German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU), which advises the German government, has called for an e-car quota to push the energy transition in the transport sector. At least 25 percent of new cars and light trucks should be pure electric by 2025, and at least 50 percent by 2030, the SRU said in a study. “Power-to-liquid or power-to-gas are interesting options for shipping and aviation, but not for road transport”, said SRU member Claudia Kemfert at the presentation of the study in Berlin. “Electric cars offer a much larger range per energy unit use and are locally emission-free.” For this reason, the SRU also said that freight transport should be electrified, using catenaries (overhead electrical wires) on motorways.

Find a press release in German here, and the study in German here

For background, read the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector.

Die Zeit

If Germany wants to remain true to its pledge to generate most of its energy from renewable sources by 2050, the additional land area used for windfarms and solar PV installations will be significant, Dirk Asendorpf writes in the weekly newspaper Die Zeit. According to a study conducted by science academies Acatech, Leopoldina, and others, nearly 5,000 square kilometres will be used for solar and about 7,000 square kilometres more for wind power generation if the electrification of the heating and transport sectors, powered by renewable sources, is carried out as envisaged, Asendorpf says. “That’s much more than all the area covered by water in Germany combined”, he says, adding that “in 30 years’ time, we’ll barely recognise our country anymore”. The study’s authors say that changes to the landscape could be so drastic that “problems in acceptance” could lead to the failure of the planned expansion.

Find the study in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet Fighting windmills: when growth hits resistance for background.

The Guardian

The significant drop in the cost of generating offshore wind power means that even modern nuclear power plants are no longer able to compete economically with this renewable energy source, says German energy supplier innogy SE’s COO for Renewables Hans Bunting. In an article carried by the Guardian, Bunting argues that new nuclear power stations in the UK are “obviously” unable to beat windfarms in terms of prices, even when the renewable source’s intermittency is taken into account. “What we see now [with prices] is with today’s technology. It’s not about tomorrow’s technology”, Bunting said.

Read the article in English here.

See the CLEW article Operators to build offshore wind farms without support payments for more information.


The German wind power industry keeps jumping from one output and price record to another, but it is nevertheless headed for a slump in 2019 if policymakers do not intervene soon, Jürgen Geißinger, CEO of German turbine producer Senvion, says in a guest commentary in the Handelsblatt. The exemption for citizen energy cooperatives that allows them to submit bids in renewables auctions for projects that have not yet obtained a construction license means that it is not clear whether the successful bids will ever be implemented, Geißinger says. “The aim of fair and true competition has been reduced to absurdity this way”, he argues. To preserve the German wind industry’s competitiveness, policymakers must ramp up the expansion goals and introduce equal auction rules for all bidders, Geißinger says.

Find background in the article Booming German wind power sector fears 2019 cliff, and the factsheet From survey to harvest: How to build a wind farm in Germany.

Tageszeitung (taz)

While talks over forming a Jamaica coalition government of CDU, CSU, FDP and Green Party have failed, a coal phase-out compromise between Merkel’s conservatives and the Greens could survive, writes Malte Kreutzfeldt in tageszeitung (taz). Toward the end of the coalition talks, CDU/CSU had agreed to shut down 7 gigawatt coal power capacity in the short term. Outgoing environment minister Barbara Hendricks (Social Democratic Party) said that the acting government could already set up the coal exit commission – as proposed in the Climate Action Plan 2050 for 2018 – writes Kreutzfeldt. CDU environment politician Andreas Jung said that one could not go below 7 gigawatt anymore, “no matter who’s in the future government.”

Read the article in German here.

For background, read the CLEW articles Germany’s aspiring coalition parties disagree over coal exit speed and German coalition talks past 2nd deadline still stalled over climate.

WirtschaftsWoche / EWE

The small municipality of Jemgum on Germany’s North Sea coast could soon become home to a giant battery, which some hail as “the Energiewende’s magic potion”, Burkhard Fraune writes in the WirtschaftsWoche. The redox flow battery, which stores electrical energy in liquid electrolytes, will have the capacity to store the daily power use of 75,000 households, according to operator EWE. The battery, which works with a mixture of saltwater and electrically charged plastic material pumped underground, could turn out to be the German energy transition’s “missing link”, as storing the power generated by intermittent wind and solar power plants is among the greatest challenges for a decarbonised energy system, Fraune says. “But that’s far from being achieved”, he adds. Apart from challenges in achieving the scale for storing enough power to supply the entire country in times of low renewables output, the giant batteries in underground salt domes also raise questions over their potentially detrimental effects on groundwater; the applicability of the concept when there are large differences in the ambient temperature; among many others, Fraune writes. Protests against underground carbon capture and storage (CCS) solutions or against hydraulic fracking show “that these questions need to be answered first”.

Read the article in German here.  

Find the EWE press release in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet How can Germany keep the lights on in a renewable energy future? for more information.

Rheinische Post

Plans by the European Parliament (EP) to introduce mandatory e-car charging points in non-residential buildings could cost German companies 7.5 billion euros, writes Markus Grabitz in the Rheinische Post. In the future EU directive on energy efficiency in buildings, the EP wants to make the installation of charging points in non-residential buildings with parking space for at least ten cars mandatory from 2025. “The exact costs are hard to estimate, but we expect the additional costs of the mandatory installation of charging points for [German companies] to reach several billion euros”, Eric Schweitzer, head of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), told the newspaper. The EP will negotiate with the EU member states and the European Commission in December.

Read the article in German here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.


European carmakers are working hard to improve low-emission technologies to avoid having to pay hefty fines after 2021, when the EU’s new CO₂ limits for cars take effect, report Jan Schwartz, Irene Preisinger, and Ilona Wissenbach for Reuters. Manufacturers run the risk of having to pay hundreds of millions of euros in fines should their fleets’ emissions exceed limits after 2021. As mass production of full electric cars remains slow, 48 Volt mild hybrids offer an affordable short-term alternative technology for reducing emissions, write the authors. Strong SUV sales over the past years have had a particularly bad influence on fleet CO₂ emissions, they write.

Read the article in German here.

For background, read the CLEW article EU car emission limits too weak for German climate targets – experts.

Der Spiegel

Der Spiegel has published a long article by Benedikt Becker, Frank Dohmen, Gerald Traufetter, and Steffen Winter on Germany’s difficulties in phasing out power production from lignite. The article is the translated version of a German original, which was published on 18 November.

Read the article in English here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheets Coal in Germany and When will Germany finally ditch coal?

Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv) / Kantar Emnid

Two-thirds of Germans say that the commitment by the government to get past the diesel scandal was bad or very bad, according to a survey conducted by pollster Kantar Emnid, and commissioned by the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv). Sixty-two percent say the same about the commitment by manufacturers. vzbv calls for hardware retrofitting measures financed by carmakers, and wants guarantees that these would not worsen the cars’ performance or fuel use.

Find the press release in German here, and the survey results in German here.

Find background in the CLEW factsheet "Dieselgate"- a timeline of Germany's car emissions fraud scandal.


No matter which parties will eventually form a coalition, Germany’s next government will continue with an agenda of ecological modernisation, writes Arne Jungjohann, energy analyst and a consultant for the German Green Party, in a guest commentary on EurActiv.

Read the guest commentary in English here.

For background, read the CLEW article German coalition talks collapse despite progress on climate and energy, and follow news on forming the next government in CLEW’s coalition watch.

Environmental Action Germany (DUH) / Clean Energy Wire

The climate science and communication website, the German language project of the team also working on the Clean Energy Wire, has won the NGO Environmental Action Germany’s (DUH) prestigious environmental media award in the online category. The DUH said that with its “strong expertise and journalistic quality”, provides the necessary resources and information to those who work on climate protection.

Read about the award ceremony on, and find the DUH’s media release 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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