Gov blocks tighter emissions tests -report/ innogy promises dividends
The federal German government is blocking tighter controls of the auto industry in Europe, report Markus Balser and Michael Bauchmüller in Süddeutsche Zeitung. The EU Commission is currently working on an emissions testing overhaul that would allow closer supervision of national regulatory authorities like Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) and change the way vehicle testing companies are funded. The German government opposes these proposals, according to a statement by the presidency of the Council of the EU, write Balser and Bauchmüller. The federal government also opposes lower nitrogen oxide EU emission standards for coal-fired power plants, reports Bauchmüller in a separate article. The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) said that retrofitting old plants for strict standards would be disproportionately expensive and “one should rather discuss if these facilities should be modernised at all”, according to Bauchmüller.
Germany’s resistance to an emissions testing overhaul shows that the government continues to protect the auto industry, writes Markus Balser in an opinion piece in Süddeutsche Zeitung. “No [EU] government has taken legal steps against its car manufacturers. None has radically overhauled its control systems. The auto industry these days shows how fraud and tricks on a large scale can go unpunished,” writes Balser.
Read the opinion piece in German here.
Clean Energy Wire
The next German government will have to overhaul the country’s system of energy-related taxes and surcharges in order to allow the next phase of the energy transition, the head of the department for energy policy (heating and efficiency) at the economy ministry, Thorsten Herdan, said at the Hannover Messe, Germany’s largest industry trade fair. The burden of financing the Energiewende has so far rested entirely on electricity users, something that had to change to facilitate the integration of heating and transport into the energy transition, Herdan said. The ministry’s paper “Power 2030” and the green book on energy efficiency laid out the necessity for such a change. But shifting some of the burden to other forms of energy would produce winners and losers, Herdan said. “The commuter living in a badly insulated house” would, for example, lose out, he explained. Politicians will probably have to change the system in one go rather than in small steps in order to avoid repeated outcry and opposition.
The CLEW factsheet on how to finance the renewables expansion in the future presents a number of the proposals discussed.
Clean Energy Wire
Germany will have to make a collective effort to expand the country’s power grid in the coming years, said Chancellor Angela Merkel at the 8th Energy Policy Dialogue by CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group in the German Bundestag. “I predict that we will need to make big, big efforts in the next legislative period regarding the transmission grid, but also the distribution grid,” said Merkel. The federation, the states and all other stakeholders needed to act together as a “community of responsibility by all”, and a discourse within the society was indispensable. The government’s options to influence grid expansion were limited, according to Merkel.
Find out what else Merkel had to say at the event in the CLEW article Merkel: Need to develop a certain passion and joy for the Energiewende.
Financing issues regarding the contentious offshore gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 could be resolved with the signing of agreements for the project with ENGIE, OMV, Shell, Uniper and Wintershall. The five European energy companies will together provide 50 percent of the total cost of the project (950 million euros each), and Russian Gazprom the rest, according to a press release. Gazprom is - and will remain - the sole shareholder of the project company, Nord Stream 2 AG, says Gazprom.
Find the press release in English here.
Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMUB)
Germany’s supermarkets are to receive a climate-friendly makeover. Environment minister Barbara Hendricks, together with the association of German retailers (HDE), has started a 1.3 million euro promotion campaign aimed at identifying energy saving potentials, the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMUB) said in a press release. “I’m convinced that this effort will not only be beneficial to the environment but to business too,” Hendricks said. Better energy efficiency and climate protection in retailing was demanded by many customers and would also increase the participating companies’ competitiveness, according to the BMUB.
See the press release in German here.
For background, see the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and Efficiency.
Frankfurter Rundschau / Reuters
Green power-utility innogy has assured its shareholders that it will raise its profits and make high dividend payouts, Frankfurter Rundschau reports. “We want to make money and pay dividends,” CEO Peter Terium said at the first annual stockholders’ meeting of utility RWE’s renewables spin-off. Innogy was going to increase adjusted net earnings to 1.2 billion euros and intended to pay 70 to 80 percent to its shareholders, Terium explained, calling his company a “reliable dividend title”. News agency Reuters said innogy plans to invest up to 1.7 billion euros in renewables projects over the next two years, with half of the money going into onshore wind projects. With regard to the first auction results for German offshore wind power projects, in which several bidders demanding zero support payments were successful, Terium said “we will not pursue projects at just any price”, Reuters writes. The company was going to “carefully weigh up each one” and only implement economically viable projects.
Read the Reuters article in English here.
The energy industry hovers between shock and sensation since it has become clear that several companies are ready to build offshore wind power plants without any support payments, Frank-Thomas Wenzel writes in Frankfurter Rundschau. The German Engineering Federation (VDMA) already debated when the Renewable Energy Act (EEG), Germany’s central legal instrument for expanding renewable energy generation, can be abolished, Wenzel explains. But the bidders’ calculation hinges on two assumptions, he adds: Danish company Dong Energy and German utility EnBW assumed that maximum production capacity of offshore windmills will jump from the current 5 megawatt up to 15 megawatt over the next few years. At the same time, they hoped for rising wholesale power prices, which was only going to happen if excess power plant capacities vanished and CO2 emissions were made significantly more expensive, Wenzel writes.
For background, see the CLEW article Operators to build offshore wind farms without support payments and the CLEW factsheet Germany ponders how to finance renewables expansion in the future.
Winning companies of recent offshore wind auctions could not “simply walk away from the deal” - as indicated by a newspaper article - if wholesale power prices did not increase as planned , Andreas Wagner, managing director of German Offshore Wind Energy Foundation (SOW), told Craig Morris in an interview for energytransition.org. They had already made million-euro down payments which they would lose in that case, together with the costs to enter the auctions in the first place, said Wagner.
Find the article in English here.
Read more on the auction in the CLEW article Operators to build offshore wind farms without support payments.
The share of renewable energies in German gross power consumption was 32 percent in the first quarter of 2017, a slight increase compared to the same period in 2016, German utility association BDEW said in a press release. Power generation by wind, solar and other renewable sources climbed 4 percent to 50.1 billion kilowatt hours (kWh), with offshore wind power showing the greatest increase (36.7 percent), followed by solar PV (29 percent) and onshore wind power (3.1 percent). Power generation from bioenergy plants grew by 2.1 percent, while hydro power generation dropped by 31.3 percent due to “low precipitation levels”, the BDEW explained.
Find the press release in German here.
See the CLEW factsheet Germany’s energy consumption and power mix in charts.