New econ min pledges lower business power prices/ 'Side issue' climate
Germany’s new minister for the economy and energy, Peter Altmaier, wants to lower power prices for small and middle-sized companies. In an interview with Handelsblatt, Altmaier says companies that do not benefit from rebates for energy-intensive industries must not have disadvantages vis-à-vis their European competitors. The new minister also said that grid expansion will be given “top priority” in the coming legislative period and that a law to remove legal obstacles to power line construction would be a possibility.
Read the interview in German here.
In their third grand coalition, Germany’s governing parties CDU/CSU and SPD are showing less interest in environmental protection than ever before, Veit Medick, Ralf Neukirch, Michael Sauga and Gerald Traufetter write in Der Spiegel. The coalition agreement has been a “document of cowardice” as it scraps the 2020 climate target and postpones the coal exit indefinitely, and the parties’ protection of carmakers points in a similar direction, the authors say. Fears among voters over the digital revolution, high migration levels and growing inequality have made climate protection and other environmental concerns side issues, they write. The coalition’s plan to set up commissions for the coal exit and emissions reduction in the transport and heating sectors is based on a “completely unrealistic schedule”, says Felix Matthes of the Institute for Applied Ecolocy (Öko-Institut), meaning that the parties will already be in election mode again once the commissions are ready to advise lawmakers.
Read the article in German here.
Find more information in the CLEW dossier The next German government and the energy transition.
International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT)
The decline in diesel car sales does not put EU CO2 emission targets out of reach for carmakers, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). “In fact, other technologies – efficiency improvements in gasoline engines as well as the rollout of hybrid electric power trains – offer more compelling and cost-effective pathways to reducing CO2 emissions from European passenger cars,” states an ICCT analysis. “Our projections indicate that a decline in diesel shares down to 15% in 2025 would not interfere with meeting EU CO2 standards and would actually decrease costs of meeting CO2 standards.”
Find the ICCT briefing in English here.
For background, read the dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.
The deal between energy companies E.ON and RWE is an attempt to stem their decline by each focusing on a part of the old conventional energy world that may come costly to consumers and ultimately to the whole economy, energy economist Claudia Kemfert from the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) argues in an opinion piece for business magazine Capital. In the short run, the high guaranteed returns in the regulated grid market might look attractive for E.ON, but in the long run renewables and e-mobility would become the boom segments. RWE, meanwhile, had no history as an able and successful player in the renewables business, and its current portfolio of coal, gas and nuclear plants had no future, she writes. “With the mega merger they want to wind the clock back one last time. But the time of the energy giants is over,” Kemfert says.
Find the article in German here.
See the CLEW dossier Utilities and the energy transition for more information.
Germany needs an end date for coal-fired power production and for internal combustion engines in cars to make progress in emissions reduction and ensure that its industries do not fall behind others in developing technologies of the future, Michael Nelles of the Renewable Energy Research Association (FVEE) says in an article on website heise online. Society needs clear end dates to better develop and deploy renewable energy sources and electric vehicles. “The rearguard action currently fought by the car industry will only lead to bigger economic problems,” Nelles says, adding that Germany has to invest more in renewable energy research to better connect existing technologies. “If Germany as one of the world’s richest nations doesn’t do it, who else will?” he asks.
Read the article in German here.
See the CLEW interview with scientist Ortwin Renn for background on energy research in Germany.
Agora Energiewende / IDDRI
To make their national energy transition a success, France and Germany need to closely coordinate the reduction of nuclear and coal power, French and German think tanks IDDRI and Agora Energiewende* have concluded in a joint study. “If the two countries do not proceed in lockstep, this could mean major distortions in the energy sector for both,” Agora Energiewende says in its press release. Germany could fall even more off track in emission reduction while France risks making futile investments in its “oversized nuclear plant stock”.
See the CLEW dossier Germany’s energy transition in the European context for more information.
*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is funded by the Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Three cities in the German federal state of Baden-Wurttemberg that have been selected as test grounds for a possible public transport service free of charge have rejected corresponding plans by the federal government, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. The three lead cities, Herrenberg, Reutlingen and Mannheim, say they oppose a public transport system completely free of charge but rather want to improve their existing service to encourage people to use busses and trains instead of private cars and contribute to better air quality.
See the CLEW article German cities might test free public transport to cut pollution for background.
The German government plans to ease regulations for marine geoengineering research, which could be used to bind carbon dioxide emissions by injecting certain substances into the world’s oceans that boost algae growth, Christoph Seidler writes on Spiegel Online. “Geoengineering is highly controversial – but some researchers believe that global warming could go completely out of control without it,” Seidler writes. Florina Pronold, parliamentarian state secretary in the environment ministry, says “there’s still a lot of research required on the effects, consequences and risks of marine geoengineering”, which is why the government is preparing to facilitate scientific work on the subject. Green climate politician Lisa Badum has criticised the government’s position, however, saying the risks associated with large-scale experiments to influence global warming are “completely uncontrollable”.
Read the article in German here.