16 Apr 2018, 00:00
Sven Egenter Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Government focuses too much on Energiewende side aspects - E.ON head

Clean Energy Wire

Johannes Teyssen, the chief executive of energy company E.ON, said Germany is running the risk of losing the overarching plot of its Energiewende. He warned that the current government is focusing again too much on side-aspects such as the exact date and process of a phase-out of coal-fired power generation. “The coal exit is a side plot, interesting, somewhat helpful, but not decisive,” Teyssen told a technology conference organised by the German Energy Agency (dena) as part of the Berlin Energy Week in reference to the much-debated coal commission the government is setting up. “The one thing” that would really bring the energy transition forward would be a sustainable carbon price, because innovators and businesses would then take efficient decisions, Teyssen said, pointing to the success of the carbon floor price in the United Kingdom. A project like the Energiewende needed to focus on the overarching goals to keep the public on board. The main story was to protect the earth’s climate and create a sustainable energy system without endangering jobs and social cohesion, he said. “The leitmotif has got lost behind more narrow interest.” But Teyssen insisted he was optimistic that the energy transition would ultimately be successful. The world was now at a turning point where a bottom-up change process driven by innovators, technology, companies and customers should replace the past top-down policy-driven transition. The key elements of the transition were electrification, renewables, customer focus and grid network, Teyssen said. “Electricity will be the oil of the 21st century,” he added. Speaking at the same conference, the CEO of the World Energy Council (WEC), Christoph Frei, said that the three main drivers of the energy transition were climate change, technological innovations, and the push for resilient energy systems.

For background, read the factsheet When will Germany finally ditch coal? and CLEW’s Easy Guide to the German energy transition.

Clean Energy Wire

German economy and energy minister Peter Altmaier and Maroš Šefčovič, vice President of the EU Commission and head of the "Energy Union" project, say Europe has to develop joint battery production capacities to ensure the continent retains its high share in value creation in a future mobility world. “We have to follow an ‘Airbus for batteries’ approach,” Šefčovič said at a visit to Altmaier’s ministry in Berlin, arguing that the international European aviation company serves as an example for joint European industrial policy. The EU Commission's Vice President said “we want the best cars in the world manufactured here in Europe,” adding that this requires to develop all relevant capacities for building electric cars and the infrastructure that comes with them, such as charging stations. German minister Altmaier said “we have to do everything it takes to make alternative engines competitive” and build factories for advanced battery production “not just in one but in many European countries". He added that there will be concrete results on this front “before the summer break". At their meeting ahead of the German government’s Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue in Berlin, Altmaier and Šefčovič also discussed economic perspectives for European coal regions after the fossil energy source is phased out. Šefčovič said the pair had met with German state premier Dietmar Woidke from Brandenburg, where Germany’s eastern coal region Lusatia is located, discussing “the transition for Lusatia". The region faces the same challenges as coal regions in six other member states and perspectives have to be developed in parallel, Šefčovič said.

See the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers for more information.

Frankfurter Rundschau

The approval processes for coal plants and mine expansions will not be halted while the upcoming multi-stakeholder commission on Germany’s coal exit – the so-called coal commission – discusses the country’s phase-out-path, indicates the economy ministry (BMWi) in reply to a parliamentary inquiry by the Greens, writes Thorsten Knuf in Frankfurter Rundschau. Environmental NGOs had called for this in a letter to the federal government, writes Knuf. In the reply dated 10 April, seen by the Clean Energy Wire, the ministry writes that the commission itself will develop the “measures to reduce and end coal-fired power generation”. The BMWi writes that the composition of the commission has not yet been finalised, but that the ministry is not aware of any reasons that would delay the plan to develop an action programme - including an end date for coal - by the end of 2018.

Find the article in German here.

For background, read the factsheet When will Germany finally ditch coal? and the portraits Merkel puts long-time confidant in charge of energy transition and New German environment minister faces steep uphill battle on climate.

Leipziger Volkszeitung / Greenpeace

The country’s lignite phase out needs another 20 years to avoid a “harsh structural break” for Germany’s coal regions – like it happened at the time of German reunification, Saxony’s state premier Michael Kretschmer told Leipziger Volkszeitung in an interview. “We have the opportunity and the money to design the structural economic change in a responsible way,” Kretschmer told the newspaper.
Greenpeace Germany’s energy expert Anike Peters criticised Kretschmer’s comments. About 8,300 people currently work in coal mines and power plants in the eastern German region Lusatia, she wrote in a statement. “Between 1989 and 1995, about 60,000 people lost their jobs in six years in the lignite business alone.”

Read the interview in German here.

For background, read the factsheet When will Germany finally ditch coal?

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The agreement by the United Nation’s (UN) International Maritime Organization (IMO) to cut carbon emissions in shipping comes late and is not very ambitious, writes Andreas Mihm in an opinion piece in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “However, compared to aviation […] the promise of halving CO₂ emissions on the seas by 2050 is a big step,” writes Mihm.


New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called on European political decisionmakers to support her country in fighting climate change in a guest commentary in Tagesspiegel. Climate change is not just theory, but a reality that manifests itself, for example, in the form of extreme storms and cyclones in the Pacific Ocean, she writes. “We have to find ambitious answers to this enormous global challenge.”

Find the guest commentary in German here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier The energy transition and climate change.

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