26 Jan 2018, 00:00
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann

Launch of formal coalition talks / Call for focus on efficiency

Deutschlandfunk /

Four months after Germans elected a new parliament in September, acting Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democrats (SPD) have started official coalition negotiations, public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk reports. After an initial meeting of party leaders, lower-ranking party representatives convene to prepare the negotiations of 18 different working groups that will base their deliberations on a coalition blueprint the parties agreed on earlier in January. SPD leader Martin Schulz said the parties were intent on delivering results quickly, but cautioned that “accuracy trumps velocity”. According to the broadcaster, the parties could agree on a coalition treaty by mid-February. But the SPD  will subsequently let its party members decide whether they accept the treaty, a procedure that is likely to take some weeks. Chancellor Merkel said ahead of the talks that “people expect us to make progress towards forming a government”, adding that she would make sure “that we proceed quickly”, reports

Find background in the article Coalition watch – The making of a new German government

German Industry Initiative for Energy Efficiency (DENEFF)

The next government must put much more emphasis on energy efficiency measures if climate targets are to be reached, according to the German Industry Initiative for Energy Efficiency (DENEFF). In an open letter addressed to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Conservatives and the Social Democrats at the start of formal coalition negotiations, 25 members of DENEFF’s advisory committee, which includes scientists, former politicians, and environmentalists, write that a continued focus on the rollout of renewable energies would undermine support for the energy transition, cause a conflict of aim with environmental protection, and become too expensive. Energy saving potentials in industry have been particularly neglected so far and should be addressed first, followed by a push to modernise buildings in order to save energy, according to the energy experts.

Find the letter in German here.

Find background in the dossier The Energiewende and Efficiency.

Brandenburg Ministry for Economy & Energy

The mining companies of Germany’s eastern coal mining area Lusatia should become more independent of the fossil energy source and diversify their businesses , Brandenburg’s state minister for economy & energy, Albrecht Gerber, has said in a press release. “The companies have to develop new products and unlock new international markets to become more independent from the lignite industry at home,” Gerber said. The minister argues that coal, by far the region’s most important industry, and other fossil energy sources will gradually lose importance in Germany in the next years. A study commissioned by a government agency found that many of the region’s energy and mining companies were already preparing for a post-coal age, for instance by developing roller-coaster technology for leisure parks or shipping container industry for the German Railway company.

Find the press release in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet Coal in Germany for background.

Süddeutsche Zeitung / Bayerische Staatszeitung

The expansion of wind power in Germany’s southern state Bavaria could soon fall close to zero, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports. According to the German Wind Energy Association (BWE), there have been just four applications for construction of new wind power installations in the state in the first 11 months of 2017, compared to 400 in 2013, the article says. “Bavaria makes itself increasingly dependent on energy imports and soon also on power imports,” regional BWE head Raimund Kamm says. He argues the economic powerhouse state could cover about one third of its power consumption by installing wind power turbines on two percent of its land area. The BWE says that the state’s 10H-rule, stipulating a minimum distance for turbines from the nearest residential building at least ten times its height, would practically stop any further expansion. 
In a commentary for regional newspaper Bayerische Staatszeitung, Ralph Schweinfurth writes the state should abandon the 10H-rule and let wind power unfold its full potential in the state. “Bavaria quickly has to come with a solution since block B of the nuclear plant Gundremmingen has been taken off the grid at the beginning of 2018. This takes away 1,344 megawatt of production capacity,” a situation set to worsen  once the plant’s block C is retired in 2021.

Read the article in German here and the commentary in German here.

Find plenty of background in the dossier Onshore Wind Power in Germany.

German Federal Government

The German government does not know when smart meters will be launched across the country, an answer by the government to a parliamentary inquiry by the Left Party reveals. The government says that the “technical capabilities” for the technology’s roll-out are still lacking and that at least three different companies have to offer the product before the responsible federal office can greenlight the launch. “Manufacturers and metering point operators have the launch date in their own hands,” the government argues.

Find the government’s answer in German here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier The digitalisation of the Energiewende.

Federal Ministry for the Economy and Energy

The Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) has revamped its SMARD platform that illustrates data on Germany’s electricity market, the German ministry for the economy & energy (BMWi) says in a press release. All data is now available in English and can be downloaded free of charge, it says. The BNetzA has also updated its list of German power plants, giving details on 760 facilities across the country, the BMWi adds.

Find the press release in English here.

For illustrations and information on Germany's power mix also see the CLEW factsheet.

The Polish Institute for International Affairs (PISM)

The coalition talks between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Conservatives and the Social Democrats have revealed that Germany has problems with implementing the energy transition, writes Aleksandra Gawlikowska-Fyk in the Bulletin of the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM). But the troubles do not indicate a departure from the energy transition, as the new government will revise the strategy and focus on 2030 climate objectives. “In the European Union, Germany will remain the promoter of ambitious climate and energy policy,” writes Gawlikowska-Fyk.

Read the article in English here.

German utility RWE has contested a court’s evidence order from November 2017 which says that a consultant shall assess whether greenhouse gas emissions caused by the country’s largest coal user have contributed to the melting of a glacier in Peru, which now threatens the home of plaintiff Saul Luciano Lliuya, website (U+E) writes. RWE told U+E in a letter that there were still  “considerable judicial doubts about the legitimacy, conclusiveness, and reasonable justification of the lawsuit backed by [NGO] Germanwatch and other interest groups”. The energy company argues that, according to German law, a single emitter could not be held accountable for “globally effective processes like climate change”. Lliuya’s lawyer, Roda Verheyen, told U+E that the court will need to give its view by the beginning of March. The website writes that “this gives the impression that RWE intends to protract the entire lawsuit”. Lliuya’s supporter Germanwatch estimates that the consultant’s report might take up to two years to finish.

Find the article in German here

In contrast to Germany, coal use and emissions have fallen quickly in the UK, following the introduction of a carbon floor price, writes Craig Morris in a blog on “Like Germany, the UK has made too little progress outside the power sector,” according to Morris. “The British have already picked their low-hanging fruit, while Germany’s are still on the branch.” Because a coal phase-out will begin in Germany with or without an official policy in the 2020s, emissions are likely to drop faster than in the UK in the future, writes Morris.

Read the blog in English here.

Find background in the factsheet When will Germany finally ditch coal?

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