National grid fee alignment after all? / France relies on German power
Grid fees will be aligned across Germany despite economy minister Sigmar Gabriel’s recent backtracking on such plans, Reuters reports citing government sources. Responding to pressure from eastern German federal states the government is working on a bill to align grid fees nationwide, Reuters reports. However, it may take years before grid fees are uniform across all German states, it adds. Grid fees account for about a quarter of the power price in Germany and are higher in sparsely populated regions and where grids have to be expanded due to newly installed renewable energy capacities.
Read the article in German here.
For background, see the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s power grid.
France is importing much of its power from Germany and other neighbouring countries to cope with the cold winter weather, Stefan Brändle writes for Berliner Zeitung. Almost 40 percent of French homes are heated with electricity from the country’s 58 nuclear reactors, Brändle explains. But half a dozen have been shut down for maintenance. That means relying on “dirt-cheap” electric radiators instead of central heating carries a risk of power outages, he writes. Several nuclear plant operators have said they will postpone pending repair work while the government issues citizens with instructions to save power, Brändle adds.
For background, read the CLEW dossier Germany’s energy transition in the European context.
Even though renewable power is now cheaper than conventional fossil power in many countries, it would be wrong to assume global energy and climate policy will become “a no-brainer,” Brigitte Knopf, secretary general of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), said in an interview with Frankfurter Rundschau. While “renewables are on the rise globally,” many countries still count on cheap coal plants to spur their growth, Knopf explained. “The G20 countries under a German presidency should therefore enforce a CO2 price as an important element of climate protection,” she said. Knopf stressed that to reach its own climate targets, Germany must step up efforts to phase out coal and called for a steady price increase for carbon allowances under the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS).
For more information on the Energiewende and emissions, read the CLEW dossier The energy transition and climate change.
Issues in Science and Technology
The German Energiewende has a “mixed, but very troubling” record, Christine Sturm says in a long article on the Energiewende for Issues in Science and Technology, an online magazine from The University of Texas at Dallas. “On the plus side is continued public support and a very impressive ramping up of RE [renewable energy] capacity. But on the deficit side of the ledger are exploding energy costs, failed policy tools such as the German and European Union trading schemes, and hard-hit institutional actors – above all the major utilities, which increasingly look as though they have been consciously sacrificed to help Germany to meet its ambitious GHG emission targets. But these targets are not being met,” writes Sturm, who worked for German utility RWE until 2016.
Read the article in English here.
T20 Task Force Towards Ending Hunger and Sustainable Agriculture
G20 countries should develop and share renewable energy innovation in water use, food and agriculture to ensure food security, according to policy recommendations by the G20 think tank network T20 Task Force Towards Ending Hunger and Sustainable Agriculture. “The food sector accounts for 30 percent of global energy consumption, and agriculture and land use change are responsible for about 24 percent of greenhouse gas emissions,” the authors of a new policy brief write. One example would be the shift from thermal to solar energy for pumping groundwater for irrigation, according to the brief.
Find the full brief in English here.
For background on the summit, read the CLEW article IEA director calls on Germany to lead on climate during G20 presidency.
Becker Büttner Held (BBH)
Germany’s transport ministry (BMVI) has commissioned a regulatory roadmap to integrate the power and transport sectors, according to law and consultancy firm Becker Büttner Held (BBH), which is in charge of the project. BBH said it will investigate what decisions must be taken and when, so that renewable power can be put to optimal use in transport, heating and industry.
Schiff und Hafen
Nearly seven years after Germany’s first offshore wind farm “alpha ventus” began operating in 2010, the industry is thriving, Stephanie Wehkamp writes in maritime trade journal Schiff und Hafen. There are now 15 fully operational windfarms in the North and Baltic seas and around 20,000 people employed in the sector, which is poised for a further fall in operating costs, Wehkamp says. She stresses that “not just coastal federal states benefit from job creation,” but also suppliers in southern regions that are integrated into the value creation chain. Wehkamp warns that amendments to the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) and reduced capacity expansion of a technology “capable of supplying power 340 days per year” put Germany’s climate targets at risk.
For background, see the CLEW dossier The reform of the Renewable Energy Act.
New York Times
The decarbonisation of supposed green pioneers like California and Germany is too slow to meet Paris climate targets, Eduardo Porter writes in the New York Times. Despite a substantial increase in German renewable capacity, generation barely rose last year and total carbon emissions from energy went up. In winter, renewable power production falls to a fraction of demand, and would still do so if its capacity tripled, writes Porter. It will be hard to halt climate change without nuclear energy, he argues.
Read the article in English here.
Like many countries around the world, the Philippines could benefit from adopting certain German Energiewende policies, Laurence Delina writes in a commentary on inquirer.net. “Germany is obviously politically, economically and socially different” from the Philippines, Delina writes, explaining that the country’s shift to a greener energy supply is rooted in civil society movements and citizen-owned energy cooperatives. “Millions of Germans now build their retirement nest eggs by individually or collectively owning a share of wind and solar power plants that supply clean energy,” she explains. Delina calls for an “equally big policy support” for the Philippines’ energy transition, to open the energy market to smaller investors.
Read the article in English here.