02 Mar 2018, 00:00
Sören Amelang Julian Wettengel

Lignite security standby has not been used / "Chaos" at innogy

Frankfurter Rundschau

The German federal government has said that the country’s security standby of lignite power plants with a total capacity of 2.7 gigawatts has not yet been used, but operators are paid a total of 234 million euros in 2017 and 2018 to keep them at the ready, writes Thorsten Knuf in the Frankfurter Rundschau. In order to reduce CO2 emissions in the power sector, the government agreed with utilities to put old and inefficient lignite plants with a total capacity of 2.7 gigawatts (about 13 percent of Germany’s total lignite capacity) on temporary security standby for four years, before they are eventually shut down permanently. The plants would only be called upon as a very last resort, for example in the case of long-lasting, extreme weather events. “The federal government rewards the coal industry with hundreds of millions of euros for doing nothing. Climate-harmful coal can be handsomely rewarded, while the federal government steps on the brakes regarding renewables,” Oliver Krischer, deputy leader of the Greens’ parliamentary group, told the Frankfurter Rundschau.

Find the article (behind paywall) in German in the newspaper’s e-paper, read the government’s reply in German here, and find an article by Spiegel Online on the topic in German here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet Germany's new power market design and the factsheet When will Germany finally ditch coal?

To help protect the climate, members of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) should vote in favour of a grand coalition government with Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance, writes Benjamin von Brackel in an opinion piece for “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” Brackel argues. Provisions in the coalition agreement would “indeed advance Germany in terms of energy transition and climate protection.” These include coming up with an end date for coal-fired power generation; increasing the share of renewables in the power mix to 65 percent; and setting greenhouse gas reduction targets for each sector. The SPD will announce the result of the vote on Sunday, 4 March.

Find the opinion piece in German here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier The next German government and the energy transition.

Reuters / Daimler

German premium carmaker Daimler will buy its long-standing joint venture partner Europcar’s 25 percent stake in car2go in its quest for greener pastures that might even include a car-sharing alliance with German rival BMW, reports Reuters. With the move, Daimler will take full ownership of car2go Europe GmbH . Mercedes owner Daimler and BMW, Germany’s two biggest luxury carmakers, are already in discussions to combine their car-sharing services car2go and DriveNow, a source familiar with the talks told Reuters earlier this year. The two companies want to build a joint business, which includes car-sharing, ride-hailing, electric vehicle charging, and digital parking services, writes Reuters. In January, BMW paved the way for a merger with Daimler’s car-sharing service when it bought out car rental service Sixt from their joint venture DriveNow.

Read the article in English here, and find the Daimler press release in English here.

See the CLEW dossier German carmakers and the Energiewende for background.

Bloomberg / Infineon

German chip manufacturer Infineon Technologies is teaming up with SAIC Motor Corp, China’s largest automaker by sales volume, to benefit from the quickly growing demand for electric cars, reports Stefan Nicola for Bloomberg. Infineon and SAIC will set up a joint company to produce power modules for Chinese manufacturers of electric cars and plug-in hybrids, jointly investing at least 100 million euros and hiring 250 people to expand Infineon’s chip factory in Wuxi, writes Nicola. “Our joint venture will make us faster to serve the electric vehicle customers in China,” said Jochen Hanebeck, member of the Management Board of Infineon responsible for operations, in a press release.

Find the article in English here and the Infineon press release in English here.

See the CLEW dossier German carmakers and the Energiewende for background.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Free public transport, blue badges, hardware retrofits - every day a different solution is touted to reconcile cars with the environment in Germany’s heated diesel debate, writes Marc Beise in a commentary in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. But a congestion charge already in use in London and other cities abroad would be an obvious solution that has barely been mentioned. It would mean that “the same people who cause the pollution must pay for it: the drivers of combustion engine cars,” including those with petrol engines, whose damaging effects are totally neglected in the current diesel discussion. Congestion charges are effective, not as unfair as diesel driving bans, and easy to implement, argues Beise.

Read the commentary in German here.

Find background in the CLEW article Court ruling opens door for diesel bans in German cities, and consult the factsheet Diesel driving bans in Germany – The Q&A.


German companies do not plan to suddenly abandon diesel cars in their fleets, after a court ruling has opened the door for diesel bans in German cities, according to a survey conducted by the German newspaper Handelsblatt. Most companies want to wait and see how the decision plays out in the coming months. There are still too many open questions regarding the scope, duration, and design of possible driving bans, Marc-Oliver Prinzing, head of the German Federal Fleet Management Association, told the Handelsblatt. Many company cars would likely not be affected by the driving bans anyway, as they are new models that meet the latest Euro 6 emissions standards, writes the paper.

Read the article in German here.

For background, read the CLEW article Court ruling opens door for diesel bans in German cities, and the factsheet Diesel driving bans in Germany – The Q&A.


Two months after the surprise departure of CEO Peter Terium, renewable utility innogy is in crisis, and neither the management nor majority owner RWE have a plan to get out of the mess created by a profit drop, writes Angela Hennersdorf in the business magazine Wirtschaftswoche. Innogy “started as a white hope meant to secure the future of utility RWE, but it increasingly turns into a millstone around the neck.” An innogy manager told the author that “this company is in total chaos,” adding that “nobody has any idea how things will continue.” Nearly every company division is saddled with problems, writes Hennersdorf, citing the stagnation of renewable generation; troubles at innogy’s retail businesses in Great Britain and the Netherlands; and rumours about a grid sale. “The chaos reveals the extent to which Germany’s second largest power company is still struggling with the Energiewende.”

Find plenty of background in the dossier Battered utilities take on start-ups in innovation race.

Energy Research & Social Science

The stakeholders in Germany’s ongoing coal exit debate “still form coalitions with traditional allies and cling to established lines of reasoning,” according to a paper written by Anna Leipprand and Christian Flachsland, and published in Energy Research & Social Science. But the authors perceive “indications for a beginning disintegration of the status quo-defending coalition.” Core actors in the debate emphasise risks and threats, making it more difficult for those pushing for a regime change to offer a positive story, according to the article’s abstract.

Find the abstract in English here.

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

Konrad Adenauer Stiftung

Germany’s energy transition is not yet perceived as a model for other countries to follow, but a successful implementation could still make it a success story and an inspiration, according to the study ’Energiewende, an interim review – International expert assessment’ authored by Thomas Cunningham, Annika Hedberg, Syed Nazakat, and Lixia Yao. The authors conclude that the fast rollout of renewables is a partial success achieved at high costs, while the modernisation and extension of the power grid remains much too slow, and the European context has not been taken sufficiently into account.

Find the study in German here.

Check out CLEW’s Germany's Energiewende: The Easy Guide, an introduction to Germany's Energiewende with definitions, explanations, facts, and contacts.

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