In the media: Minister lacks support from the top for embattled coal levy
DPA / Handelsblatt / Frankfurter Rundschau
“Coal levy threatened”
The levy on emissions from old coal-fired power stations is on the brink of failure, insiders have told German press agency DPA. Resistance from state governments, trade unions and industry have made the levy “politically unenforcable,” the report says. However, a spokeswoman for energy minister Sigmar Gabriel told media yesterday that all proposals for cutting emissions from the power sector are still on the table, including the climate levy. Alternative proposals include transferring highly CO2-intensive power stations into a stand-by reserve before eventually closing them down, but this would increase power prices, the article says.
The Frankfurter Rundschau’s Thorsten Knuf writes that three negotiation insiders said yesterday that “in principle the climate levy is dead.” Parties were now looking for other instruments to limit CO2 emissions from the power sector, he writes.
Read the dpa article in the Handelsblatt in German here.
“Gabriel’s coal levy must be off the table once and for all”
Several politicians from Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) have demanded the Chancellery scrap the climate levy proposed by energy minister Sigmar Gabriel (Social Democrats). The levy was “the wrong instrument for achieving our climate targets” and was contradicting “essential principles of our economic policy,” the heads of the CDU in North-Rhine Westphalia, Saxony and several energy and economy experts from the federal parliamentary group wrote in a letter to Chancellery minster Peter Altmaier (CDU).
“Failed climate policy”
On Monday at the G7 summit in Elmau, Chancellor Angela Merkel played the “climate saviour,” speaking about a global economy without fossil energy sources, but in Germany she hasn't expressed an opinion on the controversial climate levy, writes Thorsten Knuf in an op-ed for the Frankfurter Rundschau. Economy and energy minister Sigmar Gabriel is buckling under pressure from the coal lobby, and this is because Merkel has failed to give him the backing he needs to deal with the power sector, trade unions, coal states and parts of the Social Democratic and CDU parties. Those who advocate domestic coal cannot assume a leading role in international climate diplomacy, Knuf says.
If the German government were to extend the tax on nuclear fuel elements, operators of nuclear power stations could consider shutting them down earlier than envisaged in the nuclear phase-out timeline, Markus Balser reports in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Power utilities were hard hit when they lost a law suit against the tax at the European Court of Justice last week, preventing them from receiving several billion euros in tax pay-backs. But a comment by Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks made things worse, Balser writes, as she hinted that the tax which is scheduled to end in 2016, could be extended until 2022 when the last nuclear power station has to go offline. Utility managers and nuclear lobby organisations fear for the economic viability of the sector should the tax be extended, they told the author.
Federal Statistics Office (Destatis)
"Higher engine power prevents larger reduction in CO2-emissions"
Because new cars sold in Germany had much more powerful engines in 2013 than in 2005, vehicle CO2 emissions only fell 1.6 percent during that period. According to the Federal Statistics Office (Destatis), vehicles registered in 2013 on average had an engine performance of 101 kW (137 hp), compared to just under 91 kW (123 hp) in 2005. This was mainly due to the increasing popularity of powerful sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and off-road vehicles. "If the vehicle fleet's engine performance had remained unchanged, it would have been possible to save 12 percent of CO2 emissions in 2013 despite increasing numbers of vehicles. In fact, however, CO2 emissions decreased by just 1.6 percent," according to Destatis. The decrease was mainly due to increased efficiency, which compensated for the increase in average engine power.
Read the press release in English here.
“73 percent of Germans expect solar power batteries to become established in the market”
17 percent of German citizens expect batteries that can charge up on solar power during the day so that households can use their own generated electricity in the evenings, will be established on the market by 2020. 28 percent believe this will happen by 2025. A combined 73 percent believe that this will happen in the future between 2020 or a later time, a representative survey by polling institute YouGov showed in the beginning of June, according to a press release by green power supplier LichtBlick. 11 percent of participants didn’t believe that solar power storage would have a break-through. According to the German Solar Industry Association (BSW) there were 15,000 solar power storage devices in German households in 2014. Most people said this was because of the high costs and insufficient information about benefits and support schemes. LichtBlick reckons that costs for home batteries will fall considerably in the near future. LichtBlick itself is developing a smart grid for such batteries and is cooperating with storage pioneer Tesla.
Read the press release in German here.
"Intersolar 2015: 'Sad' German PV market set to miss target again in 2015"
The German PV market is likely to undershoot its target of adding 2.6 gigawatts in 2015, possibly not even reaching 1.5 gigawatts, Ben Willis of PVTech magazine writes, citing David Wedepohl, communications director at Germany’s solar association BSW-Solar. Wedepohl cited “politically motivated” measures that are damping growth and deterring investment in the market. These include changes to the guaranteed feed-in tariffs for ground-mounted solar installations and a surcharge on the self-consumption of PV electricity, the magazine says. Nevertheless, Wedepohl said he was “cautiously optimistic” for the future of the German market. Cumulative solar capacity now accounts for 7 percent of total power generation, he said, and the price of storage systems is declining sharply, by some 25 percent since last year.
Read the story in English here.