Household power prices stay high despite expected renewables levy dip
Clean Energy Wire / BEE / CHECK24
German household power prices will remain largely unchanged in 2019 as higher grid fees and wholesale prices outweigh a dip in the surcharge paid for the roll-out of renewable energy sources. The German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE) expects the country’s renewables levy to decrease in 2019, mostly due to higher prices for emissions certificates under the European Union Emissions Trading System (ETS), the organisation said in a press release. According to its forecast, the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) surcharge will decrease to about 6.51 cents per kilowatt hour (ct/kWh) from the current 6.792 ct/kWh. “Emissions trading is having a steering effect this year […], rewarding clean energy generation. Wholesale power prices are recovering, the EEG levy is falling,” said Peter Röttgen, BEE managing director. The EEG surcharge closes the gap between the expenses for the feed-in tariffs for electricity from renewable power plants and the income generated by the sale of EEG electricity on the electricity exchange.
According to a press release by price comparison website CHECK24, the levy decrease means a family using 5,000 kWh per year will save 17 euros. However, household prices are likely to remain at the same level as distribution grid fees are set to rise and wholesale prices have increased over the past months, writes CHECK24.
See the CLEW factsheet What German households pay for power for more information.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
The economy minister in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Andreas Pinkwart, has proposed to allocate coal power plants a certain amount of electricity they are allowed to produce before they have to shut down instead of deciding a set date for Germany’s coal exit, report Helmut Bünder and Reiner Burger in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). “Setting remaining quantities for coal power could help make the phase-out more flexible so that it can be carried out in a socially and environmentally compatible manner,” Pinkwart told the newspaper. Another way would be to link the phase-out to limits on carbon dioxide emissions still allowed, he said. The proposal is similar to Germany’s nuclear phase-out plans before the Fukushima catastrophe in 2011, which allocated each plant an amount of electricity that it could produce before it had to be shut down.
Read the article (behind paywall) in German here.
For background, read the CLEW factsheet Germany’s coal exit commission and CLEW’s Commission watch – Managing Germany’s coal phase-out.
Reuters / Deutschlandfunk
German Chancellor Angela Merkel endorsed a hard-fought EU environment minister compromise deal for a 35 percent cut in new car emissions by 2030, reports news agency Reuters. “(There is) a revisions clause for 2021, since the question of how fast we can cut carbon dioxide emissions depends on the extent of market penetration by electric cars or other cars with alternative propulsion systems,” she said at a news conference. “Under these circumstances I think the agreement is wholly defensible.” German auto industry lobby group VDA criticised the agreement. “It’s very regrettable that a majority of EU member states didn’t find it in themselves to strike a balance between climate protection and preserving jobs,” said VDA head Bernhard Mattes. German car giant Volkswagen said that the planned environmental regulations could result in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, writes Reuters.
German economy minister Peter Altmaier told public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk that the agreement was “acceptable”, but he would have wished for a compromise “a little closer to what's possible, to reality”. “It’s not like you can simply turn off CO₂ emissions like a light switch. The question is what is technologically possible and what is possible in competition.”
For background, read the CLEW news item EU governments agree to cut car emissions faster than proposed by Germany.
Clean Energy Wire
By opposing stricter EU car emission limits, Germany’s government delays the transition to renewable mobility and risks isolating the country, according to Green MP and transport expert Cem Özdemir. “France, Denmark, Luxembourg and Netherlands have understood that we can’t stop the future,” Özdemir said with reference to their cut-off dates for the sale of conventional cars. At a conference organised by e-mobility magazine Edison, he added that Germany is at risk of becoming a “biotope” for fossil combustion technologies.
The transition to electric vehicles only makes sense if they are powered by renewable power, but the government lacks the courage to end coal, according to Özdemir. “The mobility transition and the energy transition must go hand in hand.”
Find background in the news item Merkel opposes more ambitious EU car fleet emissions targets and the articles Germany launches task force to kickstart shift to sustainable mobility and German environment ministry pushes for tougher EU car emission rules.
The ministers’ agreement on EU car CO₂ emissions limits would “mark no less than the end of the car industry as we know it,” writes Markus Fasse in an opinion piece in Handelsblatt, adding that it would basically push combustion engine cars out of the market. “With a further reduction of 35 percent by 2030, the EU is in fact demanding a 2.5-litre car. Every drive developer knows that this can no longer be done with pure combustion engines,” writes Fasse. It is the companies’ own fault they now have to rapidly change track as they chose to build ever bigger cars and failed to invest in new propulsion systems, writes Fasse.
Find the opinion piece (behind paywall) in German here.
For background, read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.
A large moorland fire, which had been caused accidentally during a military exercise in northern Germany more than a month ago, has been extinguished, reports public broadcaster NDR. According to a German army (Bundeswehr) spokesperson, pictures taken by a reconnaissance aircraft on 9 October had not shown any signs of a fire, but the Bundeswehr will continue to monitor the area. NGO Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) had calculated that the fire had released at the very least half a million tonnes of CO₂ by mid-September.
Find the article in German here.
For background, read the CLEW news item Moorland fire caused by German army releases over 500,000 tonnes of CO2 – NGO.
The first smart meter in Germany has received a license from the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) two years after the government decided on a large-scale roll-out, Jakob Schlandt writes in energy policy newsletter Tagesspiegel Background. The state secretary in the energy ministry (BMWi), Thomas Bareiß, said at an event held by energy company EnBW that the first device had received a license and that two more devices would follow by early 2019 at the latest. The gradual roll-out was supposed to start in 2017, initially only for large-scale consumers with a power consumption of more than 10,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. However, Schlandt writes that the initial optimism about smart meters paving the way for the energy transition’s next stage of digitalisation has vanished for many observers as the licensed devices are already technologically outdated.
See the CLEW dossier The digitalisation of the Energiewende for background.