30 Jan 2015
Kerstine Appunn Ruby Russell

In the media: Car emissions, grid connections and power storage

© [magnetcreative] - iStock

Zeit Online

"Germany warns against overly strict thresholds for cars"

Under EU regulations, by 2021 CO2 emissions from new cars must not exceed an average of 95 grams per kilometre. By the end of this year, the EU wants to determine further thresholds but the German government is protective of the country’s car industry, Matthias Breitinger writes for Zeit Online. A report by the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy shows that further emission reductions would be technically possible but would hit car makers economically, increasing production costs by 3,200 to 4,100 euros per vehicle. Still, the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), an independent research organisation, says these figures are far too high and the conclusions drawn from them faulty, Breitinger writes.

See the article in German here.


Stuttgarter Zeitung

“How essential is power storage?”

With grid expansion stalling and a lack of investment in pumped hydropower stations, batteries could provide the necessary flexible addition to fluctuating renewable energy supply, Klaus Zintz writes in the Stuttgarter Zeitung. A battery project by the Wemag stadtwerk in the city of Schwerin demonstrates that this type of power storage can be quicker to resond than conventional power generators, and so help to stabilise the power system, Zintz writes.

Read the article in German here.  



“A shortage of money in coal country”

North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW), Germany’s most populous state, is facing a second structural transformation, Gerd Kolbe writes for the NZZ. Following the closure of much of the hard coal mining industry and large manufacturing companies like Opel, climate change and the Energiewende have brought further challenges, Kolbe writes. With the federal government in Berlin announcing further emission reduction targets, politicians in NRW fear for 12,000 jobs in the lignite sector. But the reality is that the large utilities E.ON and RWE are shutting down conventional power production anyway because it is no longer profitable, Kolbe says. This means that the federal government, NRW and municipalities will see a sharp decline in tax income. NRW's debt is rising by 3 billion euros per year, Kolbe says, and the risk of poverty is now as high in this large western state as in the east German states of Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg.

See the article in German here.



“Energiewende threatens stadtwerke – concerns over jobs”

WAZ reports that municipally owned utilities in the Rhur are coming under pressure from the energy transition. Traditionally, surpluses in the energy sector would subsidise areas of infrastructure such as transport but this model is now looking “shaky,” as conventional power plants are shut down because they fail to turn a profit. Stadtwerke are also shelving green power projects because of insufficient returns on investment, Michael Kohlstadt writes.

See the article in German here.



“Political headwinds pose existential threat to citizen’s energy”

A study by scientists at the University of Erfurt and the University of Lüneburg for the Bündnis Bürgerenergie (Citizens Energy Alliance) found that only 29 new energy cooperatives were founded in 2014, compared to 104 in 2013 and 189 in 2012, the Windkraft-Journal reports. The Bündnis Bürgerenergie says conditions for cooperatives are deteriorating as a result of government policy, including the revised EEG law and a new tender system that means solar power producers must bid for subsidies.

See the article in German here.

Download the study in German here.


Bayerischer Rundfunk

“Bavaria doesn’t need new power lines”

Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) opposes planned power lines in Bavaria, the Bayerischer Rundfunk reports. The environmental organisation accuses the state government of favouring large power stations and coal generation over alternative concepts. Even after the nuclear phase-out, security of supply in Bavaria could be maintained by better energy efficiency and increased use of combined heat and power stations and renewables, BUND says. The organisation criticised the consultation process organised by the Bavarian state government to assess the need for grid extensions to bring wind power from the north of Germany as being too brief.

See the article in German here.

See CLEW's Dossier on German grid expansion here.


Die Zeit

“The chimney solution”

Writing for Die Zeit, Frank Drieschner describes the new coal-fired power station set to go on line this spring at Moorburg, near Hamburg, as large, expensive and uneconomical. Drieschner says hasty planning by utility Vattenfall and politicians has resulted in the power station being completed even though it was already clear in 2010 that it would produce far more power than needed.


taz – die Tageszeitung

“Long-term sells”

In a lengthy opinion piece for the taz, Martin Schönberg from London think tank Climate Change Capital says the European power market is functioning increasingly well, with power exchanges and trading now connected up across the continent and improved cross-border grid connections. Despite this, energy policy is becoming less "European" and more nationalistic, Schönberg says. National governments not only fund the development of renewables - more and more countries are also supporting conventional power plants through capacity markets in an attempt to secure their long-term power supply. Still, there are many different ways to design capacity markets, Schönberg writes, and the construction of new coal power stations must not be subsidised.

See the op-ed in German here.


Energy Post

“E.ON’s transformation: how it will change the energy debate in Europe”

Writing for the Energy Post, Simon Skillings, former strategy and policy director at E.ON UK, now an industry consultant, says E.ON’s "historic" split will be far more significant for the transformation of the energy system that any public policy pronouncement. Skillings says the way energy is produced and consumed has been radically transformed and it is no longer possible to maintain two different and fundamentally oppositional business models within the same company. He adds that investors must accept that they can no longer expect the generous returns previously enjoyed by utility shareholders.

See the article in English here.

See CLEW’s Factsheet on utilities and the Energiewende here.



“Graphs of the Day: The success of Germany’s energy transition”

Writing for Australian clean energy website RenewEconomy, Giles Parkinson says much of the debate surrounding the Energiewende is uninformed and driven by vested interests in the nuclear and coal industries. The article reproduces a series of graphs showing that Germany is on track with its targets for renewable growth and emissions reductions, while power prices are falling and economic growth is strong.

See the article in English here.



“Siemens hands over first North Sea grid connection to TenneT”

Calling it a “significant step for the German energy transition,” Siemens has announced the completion of the “world's largest direct-current grid connection at 800 megawatts (MW)” in the German North Sea. The power line has begun commercial operation, bringing enough electricity from offshore wind park BorWin2 to supply around one million German households, the company said in a press release.

See the Siemens press release in English here.

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