Clean Energy Wire
Fixing the ongoing diesel crisis ranks among the top priorities of the new German government with the goal to avoid large-scale driving bans, Chancellor Angela Merkel told parliament in her first speech of the new legislative period. “The federal government will deal first with the future of diesel,” Merkel said. Neither diesel customers nor workers should foot the bill, while air quality and climate must be protected at the same time, she said. “That’s squaring the circle,” Merkel said. “We reject comprehensive diving bans,” she said, adding that carmakers had to do their share to fix the issue. In her one-hour-long speech, Merkel also reiterated the new grand coalition's plans to pass a climate protection act which should include a pathway and an end date to a coal exit. She emphasised that "affordable energy is a precondition for a successful industrial location" and added that gearing the Energiewende towards more market-based principles will be decisive for reaching Germany's emissions reduction targets.
See the CLEW dossier The next German government and the energy transition for more information.
Modern solar PV installations in Germany have the lowest power generation costs of all technologies, the Fraunhofer ISE research institute writes in a press release. Depending on the type of installation and the sun's intensity, generating one kilowatt hour (kWh) with solar PV costs between 3.71 and 11.54 eurocents, according to a study conducted by the institute. Onshore wind power comes second, with prices ranging between 3.99 and 8.23 eurocents/kWh, while offshore wind power is more costly due to higher construction and maintenance costs, bringing the price per kWh up to somewhere between 7.49 and 13.79 eurocents/kWh. Fraunhofer ISE says modern lignite plants will need between 4.59 and 7.98 eurocents to generate one kWh, while natural gas plants require 11.03 to 21.94 eurocents/kWh. “Due to technological progress, field solar PV installations in southern Germany and onshore wind power turbines at windy locations will undercut the average power generation costs of all fossil plants by 2035,” Fraunhofer ISE says.
Find the press release in German here.
The manipulation of exhaust emissions values by German carmakers has cost the German state in excess of ten billion euros in lost tax revenue, the NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH) says in a press release. “Many carmakers have misled their customers not only on nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, but also on vehicles’ petrol consumption and, consequently, their CO2 emissions,” the DUH says. The difference between advertised and actual values is 42 percent on average, which has cost the German state over ten billion euros in lost motor vehicle tax revenues since 2009, the year when taxation was tied to CO2 emissions. In 2017 alone, the state forfeited 2.4 billion euros in taxes, the DUH says. The NGO calls on Germany’s new transport minister, Andreas Scheuer, to “end decades of cronyism with notorious outlaws and discontinue the rejection of controls that his predecessors practiced.”
Read the press release in German here.
Find background in the CLEW article Why the German diesel summit matters for climate and energy.
Prosecutors in Germany have raided Volkswagen’s headquarters to investigate suspicions of market manipulation by the country’s largest carmaker, Spiegel Online reports. VW has raised the prosecutors’ suspicion by issuing two differing announcements on possible “irregularities” in tests to measure car emissions. In September 2015, shortly after the dieselgate scandal became public, VW said that up to 800,000 cars showed “inexplicable values” in CO2 emissions tests, but reduced that figure to 36,000 in another announcement in December of the same year. Prosecutors now say this second announcement has “objectively been wrong,” Spiegel Online reports.
Read the article in German here.
Find more information on VW’s emissions scandal in CLEW’s dieselgate timeline.
The German interior ministry (BMI) has invested dozens of millions of euros in funds profiting from nuclear power plants abroad, Jakob Schlandt writes in Der Tagesspiegel. Around 100 million euros are currently invested in foreign nuclear plants, including the highly controversial ones in Belgium, which the German government has repeatedly said it wants to see shut down. Former environment minister Barbara Hendricks already said last year the investments should be discontinued as soon as possible, as Germany could not call for a shutdown of plants “from which it benefits financially.” Since then, however, further shares have been purchased, Schlandt says. In the new coalition agreement, the governing parties now say they want to achieve a “complete termination of all investments of state funds in foreign nuclear plants.” A spokesperson for the interior ministry said the “implementation details” for this divestment had yet to be clarified.
Read the article in German here.
Dow Jones Newswires
Contrary to many utilities in other European countries, Germany’s E.ON and RWE lack a proper strategy for dealing with the energy transition, Bloomberg analyst Elchin Mammadov says on Dow Jones Newswires. The split-up of RWE’s spin-off innogy between Germany’s two largest energy companies therefore “makes no sense” in the context of managing the transition to a low-carbon energy system, he argues. He asks what the purpose of founding innogy and Uniper has been for RWE and E.ON, respectively, and if it would have been better for the companies to integrate their power generation, storage, retail, and trade businesses in one company, while transferring the grid business to another.
Find more reactions to innogy’s split-up in this CLEW factsheet.
The energy transition in Germany, the Energiewende, has so far primarily focused on the decarbonisation of the power sector, but a greater emphasis on other sectors and synergies between sectors is necessary for the successful continuation of this transformation, the Association of German Engineers (VDI) writes in a press release on its new status report on regenerative energies. The VDI says exploiting cross-sectoral synergies in areas such as e-mobility or combined heat and power should receive more attention. The association also says supply security should be integrated in a European concept to minimise system costs and allow for a harmonised development
Find the report and the press release in German here.
See the CLEW article New phase in transition research: Focus on an integrated energy system for more information.
Doctors in Germany should do more to promote the end of coal and oil in order to improve public health, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, head of the German Medical Association (Ärztekammer), says in an interview with movum magazine. “Climate change is real, it is manmade, and it is a threat to our health,” Montgomery says. “The environment and human health are inseparable,” he argues, adding that there is a “glaring imbalance” in favour of compensating economic damages to the environment financially, whereas curing health damages or preventive measures are insufficiently funded.
Read the interview in German here.
See the CLEW factsheet When will Germany finally ditch coal? for more information.