“Government could use mercury limits to take coal plants offline”
The government “has a plan B up its sleeve" in case there is no political agreement on a coal exit, reports Dagmar Dehmer in Tagesspiegel. Germany plans to ratify the so-called Minamata convention on mercury emissions jointly with the EU and the government could use it to create precedence with new mercury limits next year. An environment ministry spokesman told Dehmer that the government plans new regulations for power plants as a consequence. This could spell the end for many lignite plants because it is not worth upgrading them with expensive technology, according to Dehmer.
Read the article in German here.
Given that cheap wind and solar power have made the global Energiewende self-sustaining, it is hard to understand why the German government wants to slow the project down at home by limiting onshore wind projects, writes Frank-Thomas Wenzel in Frankfurter Rundschau. “That is motivated by short-term political calculations. The aim is to artificially extend the life span of coal power plants. This is meant to save jobs at the large utilities, in order to secure votes,” he writes. Wenzel demands more courage to power ahead with wind and solar.
Read the most recent CLEW article on the coal exit debate here.
“The silent revolution”
The renewable transition in transportation involves much more than switching from petrol to batteries, writes Markus Balser in Süddeutsche Zeitung. It will transform cities within two decades with a largely silent and emission-free traffic, as well as entirely new forms of individual transport. “Mobility faces a revolution,” Balser writes. He adds that there is no coherent strategy for the transition, and more will be required than just incentives for e-cars. “We need a master plan mobility,” he writes. But this is not in sight because of fragmented jurisdictions in city planning, public transport, parking spaces, and e-car infrastructure, according to Balser.
Find the new CLEW dossier on the renewable transition in transport here.
“A fund for waste”
A decision on a fund for financing nuclear waste storage in Germany is imminent, Der Spiegel reports. Citing sources from the expert commission on nuclear waste management, the article says that a foundation model - as proposed by utilities RWE, E.ON and Vattenfall - has been replaced by a fund model in which the companies pay a share of their reserves. The billion euro fund would be used to pay for nuclear waste storage but not for the decommissioning of power stations, for which the utilities would remain entirely responsible, the proposal suggests.
Read a CLEW factsheet on the nuclear clean-up costs in Germany here.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
“How does the electricity come to the socket?”
German households are on average only 12 minutes per year without power, writes Johannes Winterhagen in an explainer for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. This is despite the grid expansion, which many said was essential as the transition to renewable sources progresses, lagging behind. One of the reasons why transmission grids are so stable is that projections for renewable power production have become much better, he says. It is possible to predict wind power generation one day in advance with an accuracy of 2-3 percent. This gives enough time to fill the gaps in the wind supply with conventional power. Other reasons for the stable grid are re-dispatch measures and an ever higher percentage of sub-surface cables in the distribution grids.
Read a CLEW factsheet on grid stability in Germany here.
Institute for Social Movement Studies (ipb)
Engagement in the energy transition
Researchers from the Institute for Social Movement Studies found that the Energiewende can be successful if people get to participate in a democratic and sustainable fashion. The analysis - a meta-study on people in transitional phases, using the example of the energy transition - also showed that the public supported the use of renewable energies as an integral part of the Energiewende. People are aware that the Energiewende has broader implications for society, whereas political programmes often remain focused on technical issues.
Download the study in German here.
Read a CLEW dossier on the peoples’ Energiewende here.