24 Jan 2017, 00:00
Sven Egenter Ruby Russell Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Minister rejects coal exit date / Utilities warn against gas phase-out

Clean Energy Wire

Sigmar Gabriel has assured industry bosses the energy transition’s impacts on industry and the country’s competitiveness would be minimised and market forces would play a greater role in the sector. Germany’s Renewable Energy Act is likely to see further changes in the next legislative period, the country’s economy and energy minister said at the Handelsblatt’s annual energy industry conference in Berlin. Gabriel said reform would be aimed at ensuring affordable financing of the next phase of the Energiewende, which aims to decarbonise the transport and heating sectors. He said more must be done to meet Germany’s climate targets, but rejected fixed deadlines to phase out coal or combustion engines.

For background find a Handelsblatt interview with Gabriel (behind paywall) in German here and read the CLEW article Germany debates form of renewables support as levy rises.

The Clean Energy Wire will publish an article on this topic shortly.

Dow Jones

The head of the German Association of Local Utilities (VKU) has warned government against giving up gas. Ahead of an energy industry conference organised by the Handelsblatt newspaper in Berlin Tuesday, Katherina Reiche said that for climate protection, gas was the best fuel, adding that Germany has a highly efficient gas network. The Stadtwerke that the VKU represents were alarmed by a proposal in an earlier draft of the Climate Action Plan 2050 to halt the installation of new gas heating systems in buildings from 2030. They would like to see gas continue to provide 20 percent of the country’s energy supply up until the middle of this century, and to make use of gas networks to store renewable power, which can be converted into gas.

 See the article in German here.


“In the next twelve to eighteen months, important conditions for a breakthrough in electric mobility will be created," innogy head Peter Terium told news agency dpa ahead of the Handelsblatt energy conference in Berlin. Innogy, a spin off from RWE, one of Germany’s former big four utilities, focuses on renewables and networks, and is Europe’s largest provider of e-car charging points. Terium cited e-cars achieving a range of up to 300 kilometres and charging times of just 10 minutes for a range of 250 kilometres as key developments. He said hydrogen fuel cell technology had a role to play in freight traffic, but was sceptical of its use in passenger cars. “It’s important because CO2 reduction is important,” Terium said. “But the battery will win. In the end, it’s cheaper.”

See the article in German here.

BMWi / Prognos / BH&W

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) has published an extensive study on “tenant power”. The study aims to provide a definition of the term, as well as legal background, and an overview of possible forms of organisation, the potentials and the economic efficiency of tenant power support models. One example of tenant power is electricity generated by solar PV panels on an apartment building and used by tenants. Reduced surcharges could make such solar arrays more attractive to landlords and tenants. “At the moment it is often not profitable for building owners, landlords and other actors (contractors, energy services providers, etc.) to tap the potential because of significant administrative, organisational and legal obstacles,” the study says. It shows that 3.8 million apartments in Germany could be supplied with tenant power (18 percent of rented apartments). The study is seen as the basis for the future design of tenant power support models.

Find the press release in German here and the full study in German here.

For background see the CLEW dossier The People's Energiewende.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The federal finance ministry’s plan to tax solar power produced for self-consumption has failed due to opposition from the federal economy ministry, writes Manfred Schäfers for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, citing government sources. The finance ministry had argued that current tax exemptions might not be in line with EU state aid law. A draft bill could be presented at next week’s cabinet meeting, writes Schäfers.
In summer 2016, the German government had reached an agreement with the EU Commission, allowing renewable surcharge exemptions.

For background read the CLEW article Agreement with EU Commission clears way for German power market reform.

Die Welt

Protestors have called on the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania state premier to call an immediate halt to the construction of wind turbines in the state, Welt reports. They argue that the construction of wind farms unfairly burdens state citizens and businesses with the high cost of grid development wind farms entail. They want all planning and construction halted until questions over a fairer distribution of grid costs are clarified. Power costs in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern are among the highest in Germany, as a result of  grid development costs, the newspaper reports.

See the article in German here.

For background on grid fees read the CLEW factsheet Power grid fees - Unfair and opaque? and for more on protests against energy infrastructure, see the CLEW dossier The People's Energiewende.

innogy / Deutsche Telekom

German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom and energy company innogy have signed a 10-year cooperation agreement to expand the country’s broadband network, innogy announced in a press release. Innogy plans to provide the infrastructure by laying high-speed internet cables in 60 local networks in rural areas, and Deutsche Telekom will offer its products via these networks. The German government plans to provide all households with 50 megabit-per-second bandwidths by 2018, but the rollout is lagging, innogy says. The company will continue to make its own broadband networks available to other providers.

Read the press release in English here.

Oliver Wyman

German utilities are a long way off using the full potential of digitalisation in the energy sector, especially in the areas of generation and distribution, according to management consultancy Oliver Wyman's Utility Digitalisation Index. On a scale from zero to 100, German energy suppliers scored just 31 points. “The results of our analysis make it clear the established utilities exploit the opportunities provided by digitalisation rudimentarily at best,” said Thomas Fritz, energy expert at Oliver Wyman, in a press release. Among several recommendations, the consultancy calls on German utilities to tailor their products to the needs of individual customers and offer customer services via a wide range of digital channels.

Find the press release in German here.


A rule governing taxi registration is holding up the transition to e-vehicles, Martin Buchenau writes for Handelsblatt. As of the end of 2016, only vehicles manufactured for use as taxis may be registered. The regulation is aimed at preventing tampering with taxi meters, but also means that electric cars cannot be repurposed as taxis. Models like the Opel Ampera-E and Tesla Mark 3 would be well suited for use as taxis, but under the current regulation, would have to be converted before they are sold.

See the article in German here.

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