Clean Energy Wire
Germany can reach its 2020 greenhouse gas reduction target with a delay of three years by taking 9 gigawatts (GW) of lignite-fired power plant capacity offline by 2023 without endangering power supply security, according to a study by Aurora Energy Research, commissioned by gas industry lobby association Zukunft Erdgas. By the time Germany shuts down its last nuclear power plant, the country’s total CO₂ emissions can be reduced by about 40 percent, compared to 1990, if lignite power plants are taken offline, while increasing less CO₂-intensive hard coal and gas-fired generation. This would lead to additional costs of 0.4 cent per kilowatt hour at most, compared to a business-as-usual scenario. “The existing fleet of power plants in Germany must be used better,” said Timm Kehler, managing director at Zukunft Erdgas, at a press conference in Berlin. At the same time, the study shows that “we do not need to worry about supply security, despite the nuclear exit happening at the same time,” said Kehler. According to Aurora Energy Research’s Hanns Koenig, shutting down up to 9 GW of lignite capacity is possible using the existing gas plant fleet. “For the long-term coal exit, we would then need new thermal generation capacities,” he said.
Find a press release on the study in German here.
For background, read the CLEW dossier The role of gas in Germany's energy transition and the article Commission watch – Managing Germany’s coal phase-out.
The rapid spread of diesel engines in Europe over the past two decades thanks to subsidies has not lowered CO2 emissions, according to a study by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), Trier University, and the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). If the share of diesel engines had remained at the 1995 level of 22.6 percent instead of rising to 52.1 percent in 2015, emissions would have remained essentially the same. IASS researcher Joana Leitao said the study was further proof that lower taxes and levies for diesel cars don’t make sense, and that diesel’s climate advantage was a “myth”.
The German Federal Motor Transport Agency (KBA) has sent 1.5 million letters to owners of old diesel cars in heavily polluted regions, advising them to exchange the vehicles for newer diesel models, reports Christian Frahm on Spiegel Online in an article entitled “Motor Transport Agency Makes Publicity for Car Industry”. The letter states that purchasing a new model would contribute “effectively and significantly to a reduction of car emissions and to an improvement in the air quality of our cities,” and names BMW, Daimler and VW hotlines and internet addresses. The letter “further undermines the agency’s credibility. […] Providing information is one thing, advertising another”, Frahm writes. NGO Transport & Environment tweeted: “Beyond belief! [...] Is the KBA the new (M)ad Men of BMW, VW and Daimler?”
Read the article in German here.
Buildings cause a third of German emissions, but the government continues to “shamefully neglect” this problem, writes Bernhard Pötter in a commentary for tageszeitung. “It doesn’t really bother anyone that all climate targets are missed in this sector, just like in transportation,” Pötter says. This week’s study by energy think tank Agora Energiewende* and the European Climate Foundation has shown that there are no alternatives to increasing insulation rates, he points out. “Insulation benefits everything: New jobs, growth, less emissions, more comfortable homes. Somebody must finally feel responsible in this government and throw their weight behind it.”
Read the commentary in German here.
For background, read the dossier The Energiewende and Efficiency.
*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.
Germany will reach a deal by the end of the year on a deadline and way to exit coal-fired power generation, according to mining union IG BCE, reports Nathan Witkop for Montel. Union head Michael Vassiliadis told an industry association conference he was confident that the coal task force charged with drawing up proposals for a fair phaseout would reach a compromise before Germany takes part in climate talks in Poland next month.
Read the report in English here.
For background, read the article Commission watch – Managing Germany’s coal phase-out.
Germany is running the risk of investing too much money in grid extensions, according to grid operator Tennet. Company CEO Lex Hartman warned of stranded assets because artificial intelligence would play an increasingly important role for the power grid, reports Jens Tartler in Tagesspiegel Background. Additionally, digitalisation is lowering the need for backup capacities. Hartman added, however, that the three electricity superhighways currently planned in Germany to connect the windy north to industrial centres in the South were necessary in any case.
For background, read the dossier Energiewende hinges on unblocking the power grid.
Clean Energy Wire
Russia will continue to be an important trading partner also in a future that gradually substitutes fossil energy sources with renewables, Germany’s economy and energy minister Peter Altmaier has said at a the German-Russian Resource Conference in Potsdam. “Russia is blessed with resources and Germany has to import nearly all of what it needs,” Altmaier said, adding that this constellation offered “a great opportunity for cooperation which we are determined to continue.” The German economy minister stressed that Russia had been a reliable supplier of natural gas for over half a century and that this was “not going to change.” He said Germany’s energy transition, the Energiewende, meant that the country’s natural gas supply will increase during a “long” transition period in which the fossil fuel with relatively low carbon emissions will be an important bridge technology. As European gas production is set to decline, projects like the controversial German-Russian pipeline Nord Stream 2 but also the construction of a shipping terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG) would ensure a diversified supplier network to cover growing demand. Altmaier said the debate over German-Russian resource trade “should not be reduced to energy alone,” arguing that trade in key materials for the Energiewende, such as lithium for batteries or nickel for wind turbines, had huge growth potential as well.
See the CLEW article Putin and Merkel meet to find solution on gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 factsheet Germany’s dependence on imported fossil fuels for background.