13 Jan 2017, 00:00
Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Greens propose coal exit roadmap / German power system costs in 2050

Green parliamentary group in the Bundestag

The Green parliamentary group in the federal parliament (Bundestag) approved a resolution on a timetable for a coal-exit in Germany at its new year’s meeting in Weimar. “With the step-by-step, economically and socially compatible coal exit, we as the Green Group in the Bundestag want to create planning security,” says the resolution. “We are aware that a coal phase-out is a turning point.” The timetable includes these steps:

  • starting the public dialogue on Germany’s coal exit in the coming months
  • bring about a binding Bundestag decision introducing the end of coal-fired power generation
  • creating a coal exit commission
  • prohibiting new open pit mines
  • introducing CO₂ budgets for fossil power plants
  • organising the structural change
  • strengthening the EU ETS

The resolution is meant as a guideline for the federal election campaign and possible coalition negotiations.

Read the resolution in German here.

For background see the CLEW factsheet When will Germany finally ditch coal?

By 2050, an electricity supply based on renewable energies could be either approximately as expensive as or even cheaper than a fossil-based electricity system, if the cost of a tonne of CO₂ is 50 euros or more, according to a scenario comparison by the Institute of Applied Ecology (Öko-Institut), commissioned by think tank Agora Energiewende.* The analysis showed that the cost comparison depended mainly on future fuel and CO₂ prices, which were difficult to foretell, according to Patrick Graichen, director of Agora Energiewende. Yet, the analysis made clear: “Not to carry out an energy transition does not mean one doesn’t have energy costs – but different ones. And those could be higher than originally expected,” said Graichen in the foreword. A renewable energy power system would have the added value of “shielding the national economy as a whole from increasingly volatile price developments for fossil fuels,” says the analysis. Climate protection targets cannot be reached with any of the fossil-based scenarios.

Comparison of total system costs of predominantly renewable, coal and natural gas-based power systems with CO2 prices of 50 euros in 2050. Source - Öko-Institut / Agora Energiewende 2017.

Find the study in German with an English summary here.

*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.


German energy company and utility E.ON spin-off Uniper is a potential takeover target, according to investment bank Goldman Sachs, reports Reuters. “There are a number of potential buyers and Uniper's relatively small size makes it a target,” writes the news agency in an article. E.ON currently holds 46.65 percent of Uniper shares and has said it plans to sell more of its stake in the future, writes Reuters.

Read the article in English here.

For background read the CLEW factsheet E.ON shareholders ratify energy giant's split.

Frankfurter Rundschau

The German Federal Court of Auditors’ criticism of how the economy ministry has managed the costs of the Energiewende is an embarrassment for minister Sigmar Gabriel, Thorsten Knuf writes in a commentary for Frankfurter Rundschau. “No idea of the actual costs, too little control of support programmes,” Knuf summarises the auditors’ allegations. While Gabriel managed to keep the electricity bill for customers largely in check, he failed to set incentives for reducing energy consumption in the first place, Knuf writes. “The presumptive candidate for Chancellor will have a hard time scoring with his energy policy credentials in the election campaign,” he adds.

For background, read the CLEW article Government lacks overview of Energiewende costs – auditors.

Tageszeitung (taz)

Germany’s Federal Court of Auditors has shown shortsightedness and a lack of understanding in implying that the energy transition is “too expensive” and therefore needs “limitation”, Malte Kreutzfeldt writes in a commentary for Tageszeitung (taz). The auditors often “equate expenditures with costs – without considering which of these could create savings elsewhere, and which investments would have been required if there were no Energiewende,” Kreutzfeldt writes. Decelerating or even halting the project if it became too expensive also ignores the scientific fact that climate change exists and the international commitments Germany has entered to counteract it, he adds. While taxpayers’ and electricity customers’ money should of course be used efficiently, the Energiewende needs “massive boosting instead of slackening” to meet the challenges, Kreutzfeldt says.

Read the commentary in German here.

For background, read the CLEW article Government lacks overview of Energiewende costs – auditors.

manager magazin Online

Pulling out of nuclear power production in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster has been “the most expensive panic decision a German government has ever taken,” statistics professor Walter Krämer said in an interview with manager magazin online. “In Germany, the government allows itself to be driven by fear among the populace more than in other countries,” the statistician explained. After the nuclear accident in Japan, Germany shut down modern nuclear plants and kept old coal plants running – “although German nuclear plants had not become less safe due to Fukushima,” Krämer said. With 25 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), people in Germany now pay roughly twice as much for power as people in France, he said. “About ten cents of the power price are pure panic, caused by the crazy nuclear exit and by an economically and ethically inefficient fight for renewables.”

Read the interview in German here.

For background, see the CLEW dossier The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out and the CLEW factsheet What German households pay for power.

Leipziger Volkszeitung

Influential partisans of Social Democrat Sigmar Gabriel continue to rebuke the economy minister for budging from plans to align grid fees across Germany, Ulrich Milde writes in Leipziger Volkszeitung. “I’m very angry that the promised fairer allocation of grid fees apparently has been cancelled,” Saxony’s social democratic economy minister Martin Dulig said, joining his colleagues from eastern German states Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt. According to industry representatives, grid fees in eastern Germany are up to 50 percent higher than the national average, thereby aggravating its relative economic underdevelopment, Milde writes.
Grid fees account for about a quarter of the power price and are higher in regions that are sparsely populated and where grids have to be expanded due to newly installed renewable energy capacities.

For further information, see the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s power grid and the CLEW factsheet German federalism: In 16 states of mind over the Energiewende.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The Green Party’s parliamentary group in the Bundestag (federal parliament) has decided on a programme for an “ecological modernisation of the economy” that would overturn the current economic order in Germany, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reports. Today’s economic strategy, with its intensive use of raw materials and combustion, “is destroying our livelihood,” FAZ quotes the party’s position paper. From e-mobility to renewable raw materials in the chemical industry to divestment from fossil fuel businesses, the Greens are aiming for a “social-ecological transformation of the economy,” according to the FAZ.

For background, see the CLEW article German Greens to make coal exit, fossil car ban, an election focus.

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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