14 Aug 2017, 00:00
Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Merkel rejects e-car quota / RWE to pay special dividend

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected a proposal by social democratic (SPD) frontrunner Martin Schulz to introduce a mandatory European quota for electric cars, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. “What are we going to do if the quota is not met?”, Merkel said during an election campaign event of her conservative party CDU. The CDU parliamentary group’s vice head Michael Fuchs criticised Schulz for neither specifying a date nor a number for the e-car quota, adding that nobody knew which technology for car engines was going to prevail in the end. Germany’s economy minister Brigitte Zypries and environment minister Barbara Hendricks (both SPD) defended the quota: Zypries said Europe had to become “the leading market” for e-mobility while Hendricks argued that after France and the UK announced plans to phase out the combustion engine, a European quota could only fail due to Germany’s resistance.

Read an online version of the article in German here and a Reuters article in English on Merkel’s remarks here.

See the CLEW dossier Vote2017 – German elections and the Energiewende, the CLEW article German carmakers pledge diesel software updates and buyer’s bonus and the factsheet The debate over an end to combustion engines in Germany for background.


Rejecting a European quota for electric vehicles by simply denouncing the idea as “not well thought out” is an inadequate answer by Chancellor Angela Merkel, Antje Sirleschtov writes in a commentary for Tagesspiegel. There were indeed many reasons to believe that China’s approach of enforcing a quota to phase out combustion engines “is not the best way for Europe”, Sirleschtov argues. “But Schulz nevertheless has put one of the most important topics for Germany’s future on the agenda,” she says. Every party should come up with a concept for the future of German mobility at September’s election and let voters decide on it, “but simply saying ‘no’ is not enough,” she writes.

Read the commentary in German here.

See the CLEW dossier Vote2017 – German elections and the Energiewende, the CLEW article German carmakers pledge diesel software updates and buyer’s bonus and the factsheet The debate over an end to combustion engines in Germany for background.

Frankfurter Rundschau

It is wrong to focus the debate about the future of transport solely on switching from diesel and petrol cars to e-mobility, writes Joachim Wille in an opinion piece in Frankfurter Rundschau. “Besides climate-friendly engines, we need a comprehensive mobility transition.” This included using the potentials of avoiding traffic, switching to bicycles, and better integrating different modes of transportation to establish a “less car-focussed system”, writes Wille.

Read the opinion piece in German here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector.

Financial Times

German utility RWE confirmed its 2017 forecast after posting a seven percent increase in earnings in the second half of 2017, and announced it would pay a special dividend of 1 euro a share after having received the nuclear fuel tax refund, writes Guy Chazan in an article for Financial Times. RWE still expected to pay an ordinary dividend of 0.5 euros per share for fiscal 2017, said RWE CFO Markus Krebber in a press release. “Above and beyond this, we are planning on paying a special dividend of €1 per share in relation to the nuclear fuel tax refund,” he said.

Read the article in English here and the RWE press release in English here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier Utilities and the energy transition.

Friedrich Ebert Stiftung

Industry, transport and manufacturing have benefitted from exemptions and rebates in the power sector to the tune of about 17 billion euros, much of which was shouldered by private households, said the SPD-affiliated Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) in a study, written by consultancy enervis energy advisors. For a fairer distribution of the costs of Germany’s electricity supply and the move to decarbonise it, the FES calls for a tax-financed energy transition fund to allow the reduction of the renewables surcharge (EEG surcharge). Exemptions for energy-intensive companies should be reduced and Germany’s electricity financing ought to get a comprehensive overhaul, since many of the taxes and levies were interdependent, the foundation argued.

Find the full study in German here.

For other proposals, read the CLEW factsheet Germany ponders how to finance renewables expansion in the future.

Rheinische Post

The option for a so-called Jamaica government coalition of CDU/CSU, Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) should be used if there was a majority for it after the general elections in September, according to CDU parliamentary state secretary in the finance ministry Jens Spahn. Another four years of a grand coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) “would not be good for the political climate” in Germany, said Spahn in a joint interview with Schleswig-Holstein premier Daniel Günther (also CDU). Günther added: “In connecting ecology and economy, Jamaica is an exciting project for the future.”

Read the interview in German here.

For election background, read the CLEW dossier Vote2017 - German elections and the Energiewende.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Distribution grids used to have a reputation as a boring low-profit business but have become a key source of revenue for German utility innogy, Helmut Bünder writes in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Just like its competitor E.ON, the subsidiary of RWE could not manage its “reorientation towards a new energy world“ without the reliable revenue from its grid infrastructure, Bünder says. “Grid fees have taken over the role formerly played by the constant income from large power plants,” he argues. While the companies pin their hopes for future profit on wind and solar power, distribution grids were a “revenue cushion” that would continue to be important for some time to come.

See the CLEW dossier Utilities and the energy transition and the CLEW factsheet Power grid fees – unfair and opaque? for background.

Berliner Morgenpost / dpa

Germany’s Federal Environment Agency (UBA) says the country ought to consider abandoning its diesel fuel tax privilege, news agency dpa reports in an article carried by Berliner Morgenpost. UBA head Maria Krautzberger told newspaper Rheinische Post the tax privilege should be “put on trial” as it was an “environmentally harmful subsidy” that cost the state about 7.8 billion euros annually, the article says. The lower taxation of diesel fuel was far more costly than what the state provided for supporting electric mobility, Krautzberger argued.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW article on Germany’s diesel summit for more information.

Passauer Neue Presse

The Green Party emphasises the importance of solar power in a position paper ahead of the general elections in September, reports Passauer Neue Presse. “The caps for expansion, feed-in and self-consumption have led to an 80-percent slump in annual expansion since 2012,” write the Greens according to the newspaper. It was absurd that “the very same German economy that drove this technology is now slowed down by the federal government,” says the position paper.

Read a short version of the article in German here.

For election background, read the CLEW dossier Vote2017 - German elections and the Energiewende.

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