“Government wants to kill the engine”
Onshore wind power is the backbone of Germany’s energy transition, but government reform plans for the Renewable Energy Act risk slowing down its development too much, warns Georg Müller, CEO of utility MVV Energie. “The government wants to slow development – and risks killing the engine that has started to run smoothly,” Müller told Die Welt. He argues that onshore wind is by far the cheapest source of renewable power, with costs of 6 to 9 cents per kWh. Müller says it does not make sense to speed up offshore development instead, which costs upwards of 13 cents. He argues the current target of 2.5 GW of additional onshore capacity per year should be preserved. “This would mean the 2025 target for the share of renewables can and must be lifted to 55 percent – instead of the current 45 percent.”
Find an overview of reactions to the proposals here.
“Wind energy in Germany: Small ones get left behind”
The government’s proposals to reform of the Renewable Energy Act are likely to cause a collapse in construction in 2017, because developers will rush to finish their projects this year, Dirk Briese, head of market research company Windresearch, told Handelsblatt. “Smaller actors will be pushed out of the market by increased competition,” according to Briese, who says the auction process is too complicated for many energy cooperatives. Author Franz Hubik concludes: “If it’s true that only large developers and operators of wind parks survive, the government would have clearly missed one of its central goals for the Energiewende: To preserve the diversity of players.”
Read the article in German here.
“Grid fees are the new cost drivers”
The Association of Energy Market Innovators (BNE), consumer organisation VZBV and power provider LichtBlick have issued a joint call for more transparency in the calculation of grid fees, to prevent a further rise in household power prices. “Instead of the well-known renewable surcharge, grid fees are the new cost drivers for power prices,” Gero Lücking of LichtBlick said. A poll by LichtBlick and BNE found that most households were unaware of the high grid fees. Only one in six respondents had a rough idea of the fee's size (an average household pays around 240 euros per year), while a majority thought it was much lower. Only one in four knew that grid fees are now higher than the renewable surcharge. The three organisations blamed the high fees on the fragmented structure of over 800 distribution grid operators (who are monopolies in their regions) and an intransparent calculation system.
“An update for the economy”
Germany’s energy prices are among the highest in Europe and damage competitiveness, argues Christian Lindner, head of the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP), in an op-ed in Handelsblatt. “A German update is overdue. Firstly, we need a trend reversal in energy policy. Climate protection is necessary, but not as a solo German attempt,” argues Lindner. “This is why we want to lower the climate targets to the EU level.” He says the Renewable Energy Act does not require reform, but should instead be abolished. The FDP has currently no seats in the national parliament, but might play a role in some upcoming regional elections.
“Germany's weak hand in car emissions dispute”
Germany has lobbied successfully at the EU level to protect the interests of its carmakers for decades, but the VW emissions scandal has made it more difficult, write Sara Stefanini and Kalina Oroschakoff for Politico. Until last year, “Berlin’s growl was enough to get the EU to quickly back away from measures that could affect German industry,” write the authors. “In a sign of the shifting political landscape, German industry appeared resigned Wednesday to a European Commission proposal that seeks to recalibrate the balance of power between Europe’s regulators and the Continent’s powerful automakers.”
Read the article in English here.
First large-scale solar array from pilot auction completed
The first large scale solar array to come out of Germany’s new auction process has been connected to the grid, reports pv magazine. British developer Solarentury said it built the 4.7 MW solar park in the east German state of Saxony-Anhalt. The project is a result of the first round of auctions which took place in April 2015.
Find the article in German here.
“The boss of grids”
Hildegard Müller, former chairwoman at the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW), who has been hired by RWE, will be in charge of the troubled utility’s grids, reports Klaus Stratmann in Handelsblatt. Before joining the BDEW, Müller was a member of parliament for the Christian Democrats and an advisor to Angela Merkel. Previous press reports had said Müller would head the renewables division.
“I am small and insignificant”
Multi-millionaire Michael Otto, executive chairman of mail/online retail company Otto Group and co-founder of business climate action initiative Stiftung 2 Grad, has done much over the last decades to make his business more efficient and reduce CO2 emissions, he tells Die Zeit in an interview. Following the Paris climate agreement, the German government should now work on a concrete decarbonisation strategy with mile stones for a a planned phase-out of fossil fuels in 2030, 2040 and 2050, Otto says. The worst thing for businesses is the back-and-forth of politics, he argues - companies needed planning security. Otto Group and other businesses in the Stiftung 2 Grad are calling for reform of the EU emissions trading system and a green transition in the transport sector.