08 May 2017, 00:00
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Merkel's conservatives win state election / Lag in grid expansion

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung / Die Welt

Germany's big wind-power producing state Schleswig-Holstein faces "difficult" coalition talks after the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) - the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel - garnered a surprisingly clear election win on Sunday, writes the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The current state government of Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and the small, regional South Schleswig Voters' Association (SSW) did not gain enough seats to continue. A grand coalition (CDU and SPD) or a three-party-alliance such as the CDU, liberal Free Democrats (FDP) and the Green Party are both possible. Both the FDP and Greens made a strong showing, with the Greens defying negative national trends, as Germans look ahead to federal elections in September.
During the campaign, conservative frontrunner Daniel Günther (CDU) promised to increase the minimum distance between wind turbines and the nearest home, and slow down wind power development to let lagging power grid expansion catch up. According to a separate article in Die Welt, the Green Party’s state Energiewende minister Robert Habeck after the vote acknowledged differences in energy policy positions, but said that coalition building would not fail “because a wind turbine needs to be built 20 metres further away.”

Schleswig-Holstein 2012 and 2017 state election results. Source - Statistisches Amt für Hamburg und Schleswig-Holstein 2017.

Find the FAZ article in German here, the Welt article in German here, preliminary election results in German here.

Read CLEW’s article on the election campaign Wind power course at stake in election in "cradle of Energiewende" and find more information in the CLEW factsheet on the German state elections in Schleswig-Holstein.

The Christian Democrats’ (CDU) win in the Schleswig-Holstein state election is "a black eye" for Social Democrats (SPD) and their federal frontrunner Martin Schulz ahead of September federal elections, writes Results in the last state elections in Saarland had already raised speculation about a “declining Schulz effect” and “Sunday’s disappointing result for the SPD in Schleswig-Holstein will throw more cold water on the party’s declared goal to become the strongest party in the German parliament in September,” writes Politico.

Read the article on in English here.

For more on the election year read the CLEW dossier Vote2017 - German elections and the Energiewende.

Federal Network Agency (BNetzA)

Germany has built about 850 kilometres of a total of 7,700 kilometres of “high priority” transmission lines, the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) says in a press release accompanying its annual report. “Until these transmission lines are implemented, we will still need the capacity reserve to keep the German grid stable in critical situations,” the agency writes. Analyses for the coming winter show reserve capacities of 10,400 megawatts (MW) are needed to meet the country’s modernised security standards, it said. The agency also says capacity reserve requirements are likely to decrease next year once the planned “bottleneck management” at the German-Austrian border runs smoothly.

Find the press release in German here and the report in German here

See the CLEW factsheet How can Germany keep the lights on in a renewable energy future? for backgorund.

Rheinische Post

The head of Germany’s largest mining trade union IG BCE, Michael Vassiliadis, has said resistance to open pit mining in the country resembles “a civil war,” Rudolf Barnholt writes in Rheinische Post. At an event in the run-up to state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Vassiliadis said Germany’s Energiewende was “an absurd endeavour” which would “find no country that is dim-witted enough to imitate it,” Barnholt writes. Vassiliadis argued Germany’s energy transition was too inefficient and anti-coal activists were wrongfully styled as conservationist heroes who made the idea of ecological modernisation “a religion,” according to the article. 

Read the article in German here.

For more information, see the CLEW factsheet When will Germany finally ditch coal?


E.ON CEO Johannes Teyssen calls the company’s split last year an “act of liberation,” but according to an article by Jürgen Flauger in business daily Handelsblatt, it was an extremely expensive one. In a long analysis of the company’s balance sheet, Flauger says fossil spin-off Uniper’s first year as in independent company was a success. But for the renewable E.ON, it was a “critically” strenuous draw on capital resources, according to Flauger.

Read the analysis in German (behind paywall) here.

Find background in the CLEW factsheet E.ON shareholders ratify energy giant’s split.

Spiegel Online

Germany’s transport ministry and carmaker association VDA hope to prevent diesel driving bans in the country’s cities by retrofitting older diesel cars to make them cleaner, report Gerald Traufetter and Christoph Stockburger in Spiegel Online. An unpublished ministry study says the resale value of diesel cars would plummet with driving bans, alarming carmakers and the ministry, the authors have learned. The ministry could announce a retrofitting initiative as early as this week, but experts remain sceptical of its technical feasibility, according to the article.

Read the article in German here.

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


Germany does not even come close to its claim of being a leading market for e-mobility, writes Lukas Bay in a commentary for the Handelsblatt. “Germany makes lots of announcements, but delivers very little.” German carmakers still don’t have attractive e-cars on offer, and the roll-out of charging infrastructure remains much too slow, according to Bay. “The industry seems united in its hope to keep the combustion engine alive as long as possible […] The German car industry still faces a big electric shock.”

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

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
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