Media speculate about German coal exit / Optimism for Paris
“Germany plans the exit”
A spectacular change in German energy policy is taking shape a few days before the start of the climate summit in Paris, writes Thorsten Knuf in Frankfurter Rundschau. The government considers to organise an exit from brown coal during the current legislative period, and environment minister Barbara Hendricks says the phase out might be possible within 20 to 25 years, reports Knuf. Hendricks said this debate should start immediately after the Paris summit. She said a national consensus was needed, also involving utilities and employees in the lignite sector.
Utility RWE, with extensive lignite operations, officially wants to operate its mines until “the middle of the century”. But RWE management told government representatives off the record that it is in favour of a long-term coal exit in order to have planning reliability, according to Knuf.
Read the article in German here.
“Merkel must announce coal exit on Monday in her Paris speech”
Environmental NGO Greenpeace says it is about time someone from the government said a timetable was needed for the coal exit. “Chancellor Merkel has to show now that her G7 pledge for decarbonisation was more than hot air. The chancellor must officially announce the German coal exit on Monday during her speech at the Paris climate conference,” said Greenpeace energy expert Tobias Austrup in a statement. He says Merkel would do great damage to the credibility of “lignite world champion” Germany if she does not lend support to her environment minister.
“New era for renewable power”
With its transition to auctions for determining financial support for most renewable power systems, the energy ministry plans a new era for renewables in Germany, writes Michael Bauchmüller in an article in Süddeutsche Zeitung. The ministry has sent a draft paper broadly outlining the reforms to the government’s parliamentary groups, according to Bauchmüller. In a separate commentary on the proposals, Bauchmüller writes that the previous system of fixed feed-in tariffs was a great system to get renewables off the ground. But now the time has come for an auction-based system because this could lower the costs for all power consumers. But he says the technical requirements of the new system would put private individuals or community-based projects at a disadvantage and the currently-planned advice was not enough.
A spokeswoman from the energy ministry told the Clean Energy Wire that the new draft was in line with a paper published in July. “There isn’t really anything new in this paper,” the spokeswoman said. “The works on a first draft law are ongoing and this is just one of the intermediate steps.”
Find the article in German here.
Read Bauchmüller’s commentary in German here.
Read a CLEW article detailing the reform plans here.
“Outlook for German climate action policy after 2020”
A study by Öko-Institut and Fraunhofer ISI shows how Germany can achieve its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 95 percent by 2050. Emissions from the energy sector would have to be nearly completely avoided by 2050, lead author Julia Repenning, from Öko-Institut, said. The study, which was commissioned by the Environment Ministry, found that the decarbonisation target was achievable and could even bring long-term economic benefits. The transport and building sector particularly had to reduce emissions and primary energy consumption had to fall to half the current value. Germany would need five times the renewable electricity capacity in 2050 than today.
Read a short version of the study in German here.
“The good green German gets sticker shock”
The transition to a world economy fed by renewable energy will be centre of the debate at the climate conference in Paris, writes Matthew Karnitschnig for Politico. Germany’s energy transition (Energiewende) is viewed by enthusiasts as a blueprint for the world, and by sceptics as a “grand experiment” that “could derail one of the world’s most finely tuned economies”, Karnitschnig writes. Advocates of the project point out that the German economy remains robust and say that costs will ultimately not be higher than continuing with the old system, he writes. Critics, meanwhile, warn that companies could increase investment abroad due to rising power prices, Karnitschnig says.
Read the article in English here.
Read a CLEW dossier on the energy transition's effects on jobs and businesses here.
Read a CLEW factsheet “What businesses think of the energy transition” here.
Utilities: state should help with nuclear clean-up costs
The operators of Germany’s nuclear power plants demand that responsibilities for the nuclear clean-up are split between them and the state, they said at a hearing at the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, AFP writes. Rolf Martin Schmitz, COO at RWE, said uncertainty about political decisions were making it difficult for utilities to calculate how high costs for nuclear waste storage would be, posing a great obstacle to utilities at capital markets. He criticised particularly that the finding of a final storage for nuclear waste by the government was delayed and proposed a state-operated fund to finance the nuclear clean-up that utilities would pay assets into.
Former Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin (Green Party), who headed the hearing, said that the societal consensus for a nuclear phase-out had been a fact since the beginning of the century, as had the government target of increasing the share of renewables.
Read the report in German here.
“Southern states demand law for wind energy quota”
Three southern German states are pushing for a regional quota for wind power installations, reports Daniel Wetzel in Die Welt. The states believe it is unfair that most of the wind turbines are built in the north of Germany, because there is more wind and the installation is cheaper than in the hilly south. All regions should have the “opportunity to benefit from the Energiewende”, Wetzel quotes from a proposal the states want to pass in the upper house of the German parliament.
Read the article in German here.
COP21 - The Road to Paris
“Climate protection: A transatlantic reason for optimism”
Peter Wittig, the German Ambassador to the US, writes in a commentary for the Huffington Post that he is optimistic the Paris Climate Conference will yield positive results. He says there is unprecedented transatlantic unity on the issue of climate change, green energy is becoming affordable, and there are many pledges from the public and private sectors. Wittig explains that the Energiewende is a concrete policy to shift away from fossil fuels and nuclear energy, and fits well with the EU’s ambitious energy and climate policy. He argues Germany’s energy transition protects the environment, makes economic sense, and is making the country more independent, as well as providing geopolitical security.
Read his commentary in English here.
Energy-Intensive Industries in Germany (EID)
“We need a level playing field”
The Association of Energy-Intensive Industries in Germany (EID) says it is in favour of an ambitious climate agreement in Paris, but insists European industries will need support to maintain its competitiveness. The climate summit was likely to produce a deal pointing in the right direction of more global climate action, but Europe looked still likely to pursue more ambitious goals than the rest of the world, Utz Tillmann, EID spokesman and head of the German Chemicals Industry Association VCI, told journalists. The EU commission's planned reforms of the European emissions trading system posed a risk to many energy intensive industries and needed to be corrected in order to avoid "carbon leakage", i.e. the move of energy and carbon intensive industries abroad.
Read the EID press release in German here.