Media reports: climate law rewards power waste / Ministry dispute on self-supply tax
“Absurd Energiewende: climate law rewards electricity waste”
To be exempted from Germany's Renewable Energy Act (EEG) surcharge, some companies just on the threshold of qualifying as "energy intensive" deliberately waste electricity, reports Johannes Edelhoff in a television piece for Panorama. The surcharge is levied to help fund the country's Energiewende. Energy intensive companies – those that pay at least 14 percent of their gross value added for electricity – are exempt from the EEG-surcharge in order to avoid damage to international competitiveness. “This inflexible threshold leads to this: either we make the 14 percent, then we save around 2 million euros in EEG-surcharges. Or we don’t make it, and we pay the additional 2-million-euro EEG-surcharge,” said Frank Springorum, managing director of the conversion and processing technology company Hammerwerke Friedingen.
Watch the Panorama piece in German here.
Find more information on the surcharge in the CLEW factsheet Defining features of the Renewable Energy Act.
“Finance and economics ministries argue about electricity tax”
The federal economics ministry criticised plans by the finance ministry to tax renewable power used for self-supply above a threshold of 20 megawatt-hours per year, reports dpa. Electricity production from renewables should not be discriminated against and the plans were “inappropriate in this form,” said a spokesperson for the economics ministry. The finance ministry says that it wants to ensure that power taxation laws are compatible with EU regulations, so the EU Commission won't demand repayment for state support it doesn't allow.
Read the article in German here.
“Couldn’t it move along faster?”
If the world is to limit global warming to 1.5-2 degrees Celsius by 2050, Germany must intensify its efforts to cut emissions, writes Bernhard Pötter in the tageszeitung (taz). According to him, the Bonn Climate Change Conference showed that the federal government's current plans were insufficient, as global carbon emissions must cease by 2050. “Until now, Germany plans to emit 15 percent of the CO₂ that it emitted in 1990 by 2050. […] The bad news from the conference is: These 15 percent do not exist,” says Pötter. The government should organise and finance the transition more “courageously” with “a lignite-phase out, a breakthrough in energy savings by the industry and in buildings, more renewables and grid – and an energy transition within the EU," he said.
Read about current climate protection plans in CLEW's factsheet Climate Action Plan 2050: Negotiating a path to decarbonisation.
“Sweden and Germany must keep Vattenfall’s coal in the ground”
The Swedish and German governments need to help find an environmentally friendly outcome to the possible sale of Vattenfall’s Lusatia coal plants and mines to Czech company EPH, ClientEarth lawyer Susan Shaw writes in a guest commentary on Climate Home. “Selling such assets to less responsible and less transparent organisations is in no way compatible with the climate future we want to see,” says Shaw. If it comes to a sale, German authorities need “to ensure that any future owner provides securities to cover the costs of the eventual clean-up of these sites. […] Sale or not, it remains to be seen whether Vattenfall will successfully evade its legal and moral responsibilities,” she says.
Find the article in English here.
For more information read the CLEW article Czech utility takes over Vattenfall’s German lignite.
“Expansion speed continues to be too high”
Even with current reform plans for the Renewable Energy Act (EEG), it is unlikely that renewables expansion will stay within the growth corridors the government is expected to propose, writes Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW Köln) in a press release. Government plans see the share of renewables in electricity consumption rising to 40-45 percent by 2025, but IW Köln warns of a rise up to 50 percent, “for example if power consumption drops or old facilities stay connected to the grid longer than the draft of the new EEG assumes.” IW Köln – which is the think tank of Germany’s large business associations – calls for continuous monitoring and adaptation of the assumptions included in the EEG.
Find the press release in German here.
“Consensus with losers”
To help foster the full effect of the Energiewende as a joint societal effort, politicians should acknowledge that there are winners and losers in Germany’s energy transition, writes Sebastian Helgenberger for the think tank Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS Potsdam) in a blog post. Broad citizens’ support for the project may have long covered up the challenges for those suffering from the changes. But recent coal protests and anti-protests in the Lusatia region showed the “inconvenient truth that […] there are losers” like the “hard-working machine operators from the old energy world with their families and worries,” writes Helgenberger. He calls for “more possibilities of citizen participation – politically and financially – and the honest and determined confrontation of the existing conflicts” to find a “consensus with the losers.”
Read the blog entry in German here.
Deutsche Bank Research
“Germany probably wanted too much in too little time”
Germany's Energiewende is falling short of its goals, especially in areas without support instruments and high subsidies, writes Deutsche Bank Research in a paper. “So far, the state is counting on support measures and regulatory law […]. These instruments are often economically inefficient and/or lead to interference with property rights and the freedom of choice,” write the authors. They suggest integrating the German transition more into the European energy and climate policy, even if this leads to “less ambitious climate goals,” and they propose reforming the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and extending it to the heating and transport sectors. The authors admit that they do not offer an affordable and feasible solution to all challenges.
Find paper in German here.