Federal Environment Ministry
Svenja Schulze has been sworn in as Germany’s new environment minister and vowed to introduce a Climate Protection Act during the current legislative period to ensure the country will meet its 2030 emissions reduction goal, the Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) says in a press release. “I am taking over a strong ministry,” Schulze said, thanking her predecessor, fellow SPD-politician Barbara Hendricks, for her “active commitment to this role.” Schulze said her ministry’s mission is an important one – “protecting our foundations of life: stable climate, clean air, clean water and intact nature.” Schulze said climate action would be among her most important tasks, and she would approach it “with creativity and determination.” She said meeting Germany’s 2030 climate target will take “a concerted effort by the entire federal government, we can only succeed if we work with and not against one another.” Air pollution in Germany’s inner cities will be another major policy issue, she said: “I’m not a big fan of driving bans. But, if we want to avoid them, we need innovative and creative solutions.” Responsibility for urban development, housing and building (Bau) has now moved from the environment ministry to the interior ministry, hence Schulze’s ministry is now the BMU, rather than BMUB.
Find the press release in in English here.
Find a CLEW profile of new environment minister Schulze for background here.
Clean Energy Wire / Federal Economy & Energy Ministry
New German economy and energy minister Peter Altmaier said the energy transition is one of his ministry’s major projects, speaking as he took over the helm of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) Friday. “The project Energiewende can only be successful if everyone involved is ready to compromise and make concessions,” he said. Altmaier told his new staff: “I want to promise you something: with your help and with the full weight of my person, I will ensure that this ministry gets the recognition it deserves, also in the public eye.“ Altmaier praised his new parliamentary state secretary Thomas Bareiß as “someone whose heart beats for the success of the Energiewende” under market economy rules. He also thanked outgoing state secretary Rainer Baake for his efforts over the past years which “made the Energiewende more secure and affordable.”
In a Twitter message, Altmaier announced that he would make increased use of social media to communicate his ministry’s policies and positions.
Watch a video of Altmaier’s speech in German here.
Find a CLEW profile of new economy & energy minister Altmaier for background here.
A growing population and the economic boom pushed up Germany’s total energy use by almost one percent last year, but the country’s CO2 emissions likely stagnated due to the rising share of renewables and an increase in gas use, according to energy market group AG Energiebilanzen (AGEB). Energy-related CO2 emissions “rose marginally at most,” according to AGEB’s press release. In its more detailed review of the past year, AGEB says emissions could have even decreased slightly “in a best case scenario.” The group had said in November that preliminary calculations suggested that emissions would “rise slightly” in 2017.
A strong rise in wind and solar power output pushed up renewable energy production by more than 6 percent, the AGEB calculations show. Gas consumption also rose by around 6 percent, because it was increasingly used for power generation. In contrast, hard coal use dropped by more than eleven percent, while lignite use decreased by a mere 0.6 percent.
Find the press release in German here.
For background, read the CLEW article Germany’s energy use and emissions likely to rise yet again in 2017.
The stagnation in Germany’s CO2 emissions in 2017 suggested by AGEB data implies that Germany has lost another year in the fight against climate change, according to Greenpeace. “The disastrous record underlines what has been evident for so long: Without a coal exit, Germany won’t make any progress on climate protection,” said Greenpeace climate expert Karsten Smid in a statement. He called on the new ministers Peter Altmaier (economy and energy) and Svenja Schulze (environment) to push for a coal exit, arguing they should start this year by throttling down the use of lignite plants.
Find background in the CLEW articles New German environment minister faces steep uphill battle on climate and Merkel puts long-time confidant in charge of energy transition.
Germany’s experiences with its energy transition have made the country a global leader in the shift from fossil fuels to renewables, but many of its neighbours are not satisfied with the way Europe’s biggest economy exercises this leadership, business weekly The Economist reports. Its reliance on natural gas as a substitute for coal and nuclear power – including the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline – and its poor coordination with surrounding states in launching its renewable energy policy are just two factors alienating Germany from its neighbours in terms of energy policy, the article says.
Find the article in English here.
See the CLEW dossier Germany’s energy transition in the European context for more information.
The co-chairman of Germany’s Green Party, Robert Habeck, says a sweeping reform of taxes and levies for renewables and other energy sources is needed to make clean energy production cheaper vis-à-vis carbon-intensive sources, the Lübecker Nachrichten reports. In the Energiewende’s next phase, “the future needs to become cheaper and the past more expensive,” Habeck said at the New Energy fair in Husum. Electricity, heating, gas and oil currently have completely different tax and levy structures, Habeck said, which stands in the way of a sensible cost comparison.
Find the article in German here.
Check the CLEW factsheet Germany ponders how to finance renewables expansion in the future for background.
The debate over driving bans for diesel cars and the ongoing diesel emissions fraud scandal involving German carmakers have hit the technology’s image hard. Only 13 percent of respondents in a survey said they would now opt for a diesel car, Focus Online reports. In the survey commissioned by Targobank, 52 percent said they would buy a car with a petrol engine and 15 percent said they would buy a hybrid model, overtaking diesel for the first time, the article says. Only five percent said they would buy a fully electric car. Price and range continue to be the most important criteria for potential buyers, while sustainability ranks third, Focus Online says. Nearly 90 percent of respondents said they believed the dieselgate scandal primarily hurts ordinary customers and nearly as many rejected the idea of using tax money to retrofit manipulated diesel cars. One in two respondents said they believed diesel driving bans will ultimately be implemented but almost half also said they do not think this measure is appropriate.
Find the article in German here.
More thant 30,000 new solar power storage devices have been installed in Germany last year, meaning the market volume has grown threefold over the past three years to a total of 80,000 devices, lobby association BSW Solar says in a press release. “We expect growth for solar power storage devices will be in the double digits this year as well,” says BSW Solar head Carsten Körnig. The lobby group leader says that the price of solar power has halved over the past four years, meaning that there will be a sustained demand for storage devices.
Find the press release in German here.
The state parliament in the northern German wind-power state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (MWP) has proposed a real estate tax for renewable energy installations that should be introduced across the entire country, Frank Pubantz writes in the Ostsee Zeitung. “Municipalities could be compensated for the visual impact of wind turbines and other renewables on their land,” Pubantz writes, adding that industry representatives reject the measure. State parliamentarian Franz-Robert Liskow of the conservative CDU says MWP should endorse the tax in the federal economy minister conference and strive for a nationwide implementation “within three to four years.” The politician argues the already existing business tax on renewables would only pay off for municipalities after several years, whereas a real estate tax “benefits municipalities right after construction is finished.”
The unexpected deal between Germany’s two largest utilities E.ON and RWE to divide RWE’s spin-off innogy between them and focus on two different fields of the energy industry in the future is more than a mere reshuffling of Germany’s power market, Angela Hennersdorf, Andreas Mach, Sven Prange and Jürgen Berke write in the business weekly WirtschaftsWoche. E.ON CEO Johannes Teyssen “is putting billions into the expansion of digital grids to compete with online giants like Google, Telekom and others,” they say. E.ON will no longer be a power producer but instead wants to become “the spider in the Energiewende’s web,” the authors write. Grids are at the heart of Teyssen’s plan, they say, adding that millions of electric cars soon on Europe’s roads will make the grid business even more important in the future. But according to Teyssen, grids for data transfer and for electricity are going to “merge” in the near future, which is why E.ON wants to “make the grid a platform for new digital businesses,” facilitated by the introduction of smart meters.
Read the article in German here (paywall).
See the CLEW factsheet Germany’s largest utilities at a glance for more information.