27 Aug 2018, 13:27
Kerstine Appunn Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Merkel "not happy" with stricter EU climate goal/ Coal quarrel goes on

[CORRECTION in first article on Merkel interview: The federal government coalition plans to decide a climate protection law in 2019, not 2018.]


In an interview with public broadcaster ARD, German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticised the proposal for a more ambitious EU greenhouse gas reduction target for 2030 by Miguel Arias Cañete, commissioner for climate action and energy. “I am not so happy about the new proposals because many member states today do not comply with what they have already promised,” said Merkel. “We should first reach the goals we have already set. I don’t think that constantly setting new targets makes sense.” According to the chancellor, the accumulation of extreme weather events and several exceptionally hot summers in the past years “show that climate change is taking place not just somewhere in Africa, the Arctic or Antarctica, but also here with us.” Germany has succeeded in making renewables “the central factor of our power supply” and Merkel expects a faster adoption of e-mobility in the coming years. However, enacting a climate protection law in 2019 which specifies how Germany aims to reach 2030 climate goals in each sector “will be difficult enough”.

Watch the interview in German here.

Also read the CLEW dossier The energy transition and climate change.

Germany’s environment minister, Svenja Schulze, has weighed in on the dispute between environmental groups and energy company RWE over the expansion of a lignite mine and the clearing of a nearby forest, reports. “If we want to achieve a consensus in society, no precedents should be created” while the country’s coal exit commission is still debating over how to manage the fossil fuel phase-out. She said logging activity in the embattled Hambach Forest, where environmental activists for years have fought off attempts by RWE to cut down trees in the way of a lignite mine, would create an “unbearable” situation – much like a situation "in which we would casually decide to close a coal plant while we still negotiate”, Schulze said. Mine owner RWE said it was “irritated” that the environment minister is linking the commission’s work to the Hambach mine, since the commission itself said it did not see a connection between its work and efforts to directly influence current mining activities. RWE says expanding the mine now is necessary to avoid short-term supply bottlenecks for nearby coal plants.

Find the article in German here.

For background, read the CLEW article Coal commission keeps out of lignite mine expansion dispute, the Commission watch – Managing Germany’s coal phase-out, and the factsheet Germany’s coal exit commission.

Federal Environment Agency

A price on carbon emissions from fossil fuels could help to drastically reduce the cost of Germany’s renewables surcharge for customers and effectively accelerate emissions reduction in the country, according to an expert opinion commissioned by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA). The report says that expanding the costs of Germany’s Renewables Act (EEG) on coal, gas, diesel and petrol by 30 euros for every tonne of CO2 could wash about ten billion additional euros into the state’s coffers and help bring down the renewables surcharge from 6.88 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) in 2017 by up to 3 ct/kWh. The UBA also presented a second option to spread the energy transition’s costs “onto more shoulders” and recommended an energy tax on coal and gas production to make production more expensive and bring up wholesale power prices, thereby reducing the need for renewables support in the first place.

Find the UBA report in German here.

See the CLEW articles Rising CO2-price could trigger German coal phase-out in 5 years and Energy minister rejects idea of changing fees and taxes on energy and the factsheet How much does Germany’s energy transition cost? for more information. 

Die Welt

When CO2 prices rise to over 50 euros per allowance under the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), even lignite plants will struggle to remain profitable, writes Daniel Wetzel in an article for Die Welt. However, these plants, which are always connected to a lignite mine, will not stop operations prematurely, Wetzel says. Many of them will most likely have stocked up on emission allowances (EUA). German utility RWE, for example, has bought enough EUA (at around 7 euros per EUA) to last till 2022.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW article Rising CO2-price could trigger German coal phase-out in 5 years for background.

Federal Network Agency

The high implementation rate of solar power projects awarded support in Germany’s renewables auctions is being upheld after the latest implementation period for open area solar arrays closed on 18 August, the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) said in a press release. More than 96 percent of 125 megawatt (MW) of solar capacity auctioned in 2016 has been implemented at an average support level of 7.25 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), the BNetzA said. “Implementation levels remain high despite falling support rates,” BNetzA president Jochen Homann added. The average support rate for solar power has fallen from 9.17 ct/kWh in the first auction to 4.59 ct/kWh in the latest auction in June 2018, according to the agency.

Find the press release in German here.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

German e-car pioneer Günther Schuh, founder of the successful e-van company StreetScooter and inventor of the new compact e-car e.GO Life, says he is “optimistic” that there will be more than one million electric cars on the country’s roads by 2022, two years later than initially planned by the government. In an interview with the Frankurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Schuh says he expects an average annual demand of about 400,000 e-cars over the next 10 years and that making cheap e-car models available for mass consumption will be crucial to achieve this. In January 2018, a total of 53,861 purely electric cars were registered in Germany. The researcher and entrepreneur says “honest markets” without subsidies and saying goodbye to the expectation that e-cars will quickly be able to do everything conventional cars can do are necessary conditions to achieve a breakthrough for electric mobility.

Find background in the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.

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