27 Jan 2017, 00:00
Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

New econ minister assumes office / Battery cell production in Germany?

Clean Energy Wire / BMWi

Social Democrat and former state secretary Brigitte Zypries is Germany’s new Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy. Previous economy minister Sigmar Gabriel handed over his duties today. “Sigmar Gabriel did a good job in tying up lose ends of the Energiewende. I’m taking over a well-ordered ministry,” said Zypries at a press conference in Berlin. Zypries will not run for parliament in the September federal elections, she said.

Find a BMWi press release in German here.

For more information, read the CLEW article New energy minister seen keeping Energiewende course till elections.


Business federations have welcomed former justice minister Brigitte Zypries as the successor of Sigmar Gabriel for heading Germany’s economy ministry, Heike Jahberg and Kevin P. Hoffmann write in Tagesspiegel. “Industry expects a smooth transition in the economy ministry,” Markus Kerber, director of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), told the newspaper. Zypries – praised by business representatives for her leadership skills and reliability – was actually preparing for ending her career in national politics before predecessor Gabriel announced his unanticipated move to the foreign ministry, the authors write. BDI director Kerber also voiced an expectation to Zypries, saying that “our companies need a cost cut for the Energiewende.”

For more information, read the CLEW article New energy minister seen keeping Energiewende course till elections.


A consortium of German companies has made a fresh attempt to establish battery cell production in the country, Alfons Frese writes in Tagesspiegel. Plant manufacturers Thyssen-Krupp, M+W and Manz have teamed up with cell producers Litarion, Batteriemontagezentrum and Streetscooter to form a “germ cell” intended to serve as the basis for developing mass production over the coming years, Frese writes. Since 2008, about 400 million euros in public funds has gone into battery cell research, closing the research gap with respect to market leaders in South Korea and Japan and, increasingly, China, he writes. Germany’s car industry, a major buyer of batteries, has so far not signalled keen interest in independent production – “but this is likely to change as one out of four cars is expected to have an electric engine by 2025,” he explains.

Read the article in German here.

For further information, see the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.

Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK)

Economically, it makes more sense to consume excess power in Germany than to export it, but high taxes and fees on electricity discourage domestic companies from ramping up production when wholesale prices are low, according to the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK). “The DIHK estimates the loss of added value to be 10 billion euros. This could change if the government were to provide for relief” in taxes and levies on each kilowatt hour of power, writes DIHK in an article. In a world powered by renewables, additional power consumption was “not bad per se,” says DIHK, but it depended on when the power is used.

Find the article in German here.

For background read the CLEW factsheet Industrial power prices and the Energiewende.

Handelsblatt Global Edition

German energy companies are calling for a re-evaluation of how Germany finances green energy to cope with the problem of rising costs, write Dana Heide, Franz Hubik and Jürgen Flauger for Handelsblatt Global Edition. “We need a fundamental reform of energy taxes and fees,” said utility E.ON’s CEO Johannes Teyssen at the Handelsblatt’s annual energy industry conference. Taxes and fees make up just 27 percent of the price of natural gas and oil, compared to 54 percent for green electricity, said innogy CEO Peter Terium at the same conference. This puts renewable energy sources at a disadvantage, for example in the heating market, he argued.

Read the article (behind paywall) in English here.


German utility E.ON has discussed a potential collaboration with renewable energy company innogy – the subsidiary of RWE AG, reports Bloomberg, citing “two people familiar with the matter”. At the same time, European utilities outside Germany are showing an interest in taking over innogy and E.ON’s fossil fuel spin-off Uniper, the article adds. Goldman Sachs says it expects “large, game-changing” mergers and acquisitions in the sector because of low borrowing costs and stronger balance sheets, according to Bloomberg. EON and Uniper declined to comment.

Read the article in English here.


Climate change is just “fiction” and the Energiewende is a “global socialist redistribution action“, said Ralf Borschke of the right-wing party Alternative for Germany (AfD) in a session of the state parliament Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, reports Stefan Ludmann for public broadcaster NDR. Environment protection has nothing to do with climate policy, said Borschke according to NDR. Parliamentarians from other parties vehemently objected and called for a fact-based discussion.

Read the article in German here.


The federal government plans to phase out the tax privileges for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) next year, according to a draft law seen by news agency Reuters. “Originally, the privileges for the comparably climate-friendly liquefied gas were supposed to exist until 2021, which would have cost the state up to one billion euros,” writes Markus Wacket for Reuters. However, privileges for natural gas used specifically for transport will be extended until 2026, Wacket notes.

Read the article in German here.

SMA Solar Technology AG

SMA Solar, a German global player in solar converter manufacturing, generated record sales in 2016 with more than 8 gigawatt (GW) of inverter output sold (2015: 7.3 GW), according to provisional figures announced by the company in a press release. Sales in continuing operations were at about 940 million euros, compared to 981.8 million euros in 2015. Operating earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) were at approximately 65 million euros “despite an unexpectedly sharp decline in average selling prices of nearly 20 percent,” says SMA solar.

Find the press release in English here.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

The pipeline for natural gas that connects Germany and Russia via the Baltic Sea is not an instrument devised by Russia’s president Vladimir Putin and former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder to circumvent Eastern Europe’s energy provision, historian Gregor Schöllgen writes in Süddeutsche Zeitung. Rather, it was a decade old project that outlasted many profound political disruptions. It was understandable that the Baltic States and Poland – much like Belarus and Ukraine before them - fear that an expansion of the pipeline dubbed “Nord Stream” could make themselves redundant for Western Europe’s gas supply and thus strip them of an important source of income, Schöllgen writes. Yet, Putin only encountered the project - which had been decisively pushed by Scandinavian states - when he entered office. Although the pipeline’s origins date back to the era of German chancellor Willi Brandt in the 1960’s, with Russia’s annexation of Crimea “it has gained more strategic relevance than ever – since “Russia needs European money” and “Europe needs Russian gas,” Schöllgen writes.

Read the article in German here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and its implications for international security and the CLEW factsheet Germany’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.

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