Land more precious than money for future Energiewende / Audi fined
Clean Energy Wire
The demand for land to construct wind turbines and solar power arrays is set to replace monetary costs as the central restrictive factor for renewable power expansion and will become “the new currency” of Germany’s energy transition, the Energiewende, a study commissioned by the environmental organisation WWF Germany has found. “Germany has enough space to completely cover its power demand with renewable sources and adequately consider environmental protection at the same time,” WWF Germany’s Michael Schäfer told journalists in Berlin.
According to the study carried out by the Institute for Applied Ecology (Öko-Institut), Germany will on average need 2.5 percent of the land area available in each administrative district to comply with its 2050 renewables expansion scenario, and this area could be reduced to only 2 percent if a greater focus was put on solar power expansion rather than building more onshore wind turbines. “Every form of energy generation has its downsides,” which for renewables was their demand for land and resources, Schäfer said, adding that renewable power still was the by far most environmentally friendly form of power production.
Felix Matthes of the Öko-Institut said “the square metres used and the length of connection lines have to become factors as important as the price per kilowatt hour (kWh)” when determining the quality of a given renewable power project, but spatial requirements practically played no role in official planning procedures today. “The installation’s contribution to the entire energy system will be more relevant than maximising an individual project’s profitability,” Matthes said. He argued that a scenario with a much greater emphasis on solar power expansion allowed for more power consumption near the location of production and thus reduced the space required at marginally higher costs. “It is crucial that we decide on our future renewables expansion path soon,” Matthes said, adding that decisions made in the 2020s would determine the structure of Germany’s energy system in the 2040s.
Clarification: The WWF initially said a focus on solar power could reduce the land demand for renewables in Germany to 2.3 percent by 2050. It later corrected its own statement, saying the figure could be brought down to just 2 percent.
German premium car brand Audi, a division of Volkswagen, said it was fined 800 million euros for violations tied to heavily polluting six and eight-cylinder diesel engines, reports Edward Taylor for Reuters. Audi accepts the fine and will not lodge an appeal against it, the company said. By doing so, it said it admits its responsibility for the deviations from regulatory requirements.
Read the article in English here.
For background, read the dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers and “Dieselgate” – a timeline of Germany’s car emissions fraud scandal.
Germany’s transport ministry said it would order roughly 100,000 Opel vehicles to be recalled as part of an emissions probe, after prosecutors searched the carmaker’s offices earlier, report Hans Seidenstuecker and Irene Preisinger for Reuters. German motor vehicle authority KBA found four software programs capable of altering vehicle emissions, and ordered Opel to implement a software update in cars to remove them, the ministry said in a statement. Opel, which is owned by the French PSA Group, said in a statement it rejected any accusation of using illegal defeat devices.
Read the article in English here.
For background, read the dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.
Germany’s transport minister Andreas Scheuer uses the Opel recall “to show the car industry in a high-publicity event who’s in charge of the emissions scandal – the state,” writes Nils-Viktor Sorge for Spiegel Online. “The government is under constant fire because the carmakers have patently walked all over it […] In the Opel case, Scheuer deviates from his often soft line against industry and uses his leeway to discipline Opel,” writes Sorge with reference to Opel’s rejection of hardware retrofits proposed by the government.
Read the article in German here.
For background, read the articles Germany’s 'huge step' to solve diesel crisis leaves NGOs unconvinced, Germany's car-loving transport minister faces clean mobility challenge and “Dieselgate” – a timeline of Germany’s car emissions fraud scandal.
Germany’s renewable levy decreases for the second year in a row, but the government should lower household power prices by abolishing exemptions for companies that do not compete internationally, writes Joachim Wille in an editorial in the Frankfurter Rundschau. The decrease is not due to the transition to renewable auctions as the government insists, but rather to higher wholesale power prices caused by more expensive CO2 emission certificates. “Further actions are overdue. The real costs of climate protection must be applied, for example with an EU-wide minimum CO2 price. […] The federal government, however, opposes such proposals.” It is the familiar pattern: it protects the energy companies that overslept the energy transition.”
Read the editorial in German here.
For background, read the article Renewables surcharge set to fall by six percent in 2019 and the factsheet What German households pay for power.
Wirtschaftswoche / dpa
Power and gas grid operators Tennet, Gasunie, and Thyssengas plan the construction of a plant to store renewable power in the form of gas on an industrial scale, according to a dpa newswire article carried by the Wirtschaftswoche. A Tennet spokesperson said the pilot project near the North Sea would cost a low three-digit million euros amount, would have a capacity of 100 megawatts, and would start operating in 2022. The companies said there is no power-to-gas project in Germany with a comparable size.
Read the article here.
Find background in the factsheet Power-to-gas: Fix for all problems or simply too expensive? and the new dossier Electricity storage is next feat for Germany’s energy transition.
The recent IPCC report and this summer's record temperatures show the urgency of climate action, writes Annette Prosinger in a commentary for the conservative daily Die Welt. “To stop Earth’s warming, we need a radical transformation of nearly all economic sectors, a revolution in energy production, and a lot of technological innovations. Not only in Germany, not only in Europe, but everywhere,” according to Prosinger. “People have started to develop a personal attitude to climate change, and to integrate the fight against this global crisis in their way of life,” writes Prosinger with reference to people refusing to take domestic flights, riding bikes instead of cars, and using renewable bags for shopping. “After this summer […], the time is ripe.”
Read the opinion piece in German here.