In the media: Debate over coal phase-out, grassroots of the Energiewende, fracking
"Why the coal phase-out was really cancelled"
In an analysis of the current debate over whether Germany should phase out coal power in order to reach its greenhouse gas reduction targets, Daniel Wetzel and Martin Greive write in Die Welt that high-ranking officials from the economy ministry had drawn up a list of hard coal and lignite power stations with a combined capacity of 10 gigawatts to be shut down. This would enable Germany to reach its climate target of 40 percent fewer CO2 emissions by 2020, the article says. The idea even had support from some utilities, which hoped fewer power stations and higher electricity prices would see the remaining plants make money again, the article's authors say without providing sources. Ultimately, the ministry and utilities were unable to reach an agreement and simply taking the political decision to shut down power stations was not an option, because of the risk of costly law suits like those that some utilities are already pursuing as a result of Germany’s nuclear phase-out, the article says. Therefore, economy minister Sigmar Gabriel publicly opposed such plans and denounced a quick coal phase-out as “economic suicide”, the authors write.
See the analysis in German here.
“Climate or coal?”
Environment organisation Germanwatch and WWF have questioned economy minister Sigmar Gabriel’s claim that Germany can reach its greenhouse gas reduction target without quitting coal. In a press release published alongside a new study, the environmentalists calculate that lignite power stations must go offline after 35 years of total running time and hard coal fired plants after 40 years, in order to save 100 million tons of CO2 by 2020. This could be achieved by imposing emission limits for old power plants.
See the press release in German here.
See the study in German here.
The Wall Street Journal Deutschland
“Crazy Energiewende: Green majors go forward”
After ecomony minister Sigmar Gabriel called the implementation of the Energiewende “crazy” last week and said it was high time to stop fighting over new overland grid extensions and actually build them, he could need help from the grassroots, Lothar Lochmaier writes in an analysis piece for The Wall Street Journal Deutschland. Gabriel should take inspiration from the pioneers of the Energiewende such as the cities of Tübingen, Freiburg and Stuttgart, all governed by Green party mayors who demnostrated how the move to energy-efficient and low-CO2 transport and buildings can be achieved with popular backing and no extra costs.
“Government could lower barriers to fracking”
Environment minister Barbara Hendricks responded to a report in Der Spiegel saying the government could compromise on a ban on fracking, insisting that commercial fracking at depths of less than 3,000 metres would not be permitted. Hendricks said on Deutschlandfunk radio that test drilling for scientific purposes would take place, but would not involve the use of polluting liquids, according to a report in Euractiv.de. Der Spiegel said in an article over the weekend that test drilling at depths up to 3,000 metres – banned in an initial draft of a law to be passed by the Bundestag later this year – could be permitted if a panel of scientists had no concerns over its safety.
See Euractiv article in German here.
Read the Spiegel article in German here.
“Breakthrough on fracking for Germany too?”
The Handelsblatt says that even with the government looking to relax the ban on test drilling, Germany won’t see a breakthrough on fracking any time soon, as the practice remains controversial. The paper says while the success of fracking in US has seen the country take a major step towards energy independence, critics of the process are likely to succeed in preventing Germany from taking advantage of its large shale gas reserves.
See the article in German here.
“Heating oil and petrol: significant drop in energy costs for users”
Spiegel Online reports on figures from the European Climate Foundation (one of the Clean Energy Wire’s funders) showing that the cost of petrol and heating oil dropped by 1.5 percent from September to October, bringing the price back to 2012 levels.
See the Spiegel article in German here
See the ECF press release in German here.
"Will the energy giants leave soon?"
Weak financial results and gloomy forecasts have been the dominant theme of recent business updates from the big German utilities as cheap, subsidised renewable energy drives conventioneal power plants out of the market, writes TV station n-tv on its website. “The companies are thinking about their future – which could be rosier abroad,” the article says.
Read the story in German here.