20 Jul 2017, 00:00
Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Nuclear & renewables “unhappy bedfellows” / National diesel summit

Tagesspiegel / EurActiv

Damages discovered at Germany’s Brokdorf nuclear power plant seem to support the theory that nuclear power is not suitable as a bridging technology which could rapidly adapt power generation to the fluctuating supply of renewable electricity, writes Dagmar Dehmer in an article for Tagesspiegel, carried by EurActiv. Brokdorf has been off the grid since February, when unusually thick oxide layers were found on fuel rods. The corrosion was due to the mantle material used; the increase in the reactor’s capacity in 2006; and the recent practice of quickly increasing or decreasing electricity generation to compensate for excessive or reduced renewable output, according to a press release by Schleswig-Holstein’s state energy ministry (MELUR). Brokdorf will now be run in “safe mode”, with reduced capacity, and slower increases and decreases in generation. It is scheduled to be ultimately shut down in 2021.

Read the article in English here, the original in German here, and the MELUR press release in German here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out.

The German government will organise a summit on 2 August with the aim of bundling the different community and state activities to reduce pollution from diesel vehicles at federal level, a spokesperson of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) told journalists at a press conference. “Only this can guarantee a reliable and reasonable regulation”, said the spokesperson. The BMVI and the environment ministry (BMUB) have invited to the “National Forum Diesel” the premiers of states particularly affected by the emissions scandal, as well as the CEOs of VW (Audi, Porsche), BMW, Daimler, Ford, and Opel, the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), the German association of cities and towns, and workers’ unions. The ministry spokesperson said it was "absolutely clear" that the summit was as much "about reducing pollution of the diesel" as it was about "making the diesel future-proof. It is about reconciling economy with ecology.”

For background, see the CLEW digest from 28 June and the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The court case in car industry hub Stuttgart on diesel engines’ nitrogen oxide emissions pits the Baden-Wuerttemberg state’s Greens-led transport ministry against the NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH). This is a case of “Green versus Green”, writes Rüdiger Soldt in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. In court, the state government said it did not want to introduce driving bans in inner cities, as this would only "shift traffic" elsewhere. DUH argued that updating the software in diesel cars would not decrease emissions enough, writes Soldt.

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

Federal Network Agency

Power generating units with a total capacity of about 13,658 megawatt (MW) are scheduled for closure in Germany, but only about 7,667 MW have already been shut down, the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) has said in a press release. The remainder of nearly 6,000 MW also includes about 3,696 MW of facilities that “cannot currently be closed for supply security reasons”, BNetzA says. Transmission grid operators (TSOs) can suspend the decommissioning of a plant requested by its operator if the facility is rated as “systemically relevant”, the agency explains.

Find the press release in English here.

See the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany's power grid for background.  BNetzA

BWE / AGOW / German Offshore Wind Energy Foundation / VDMA Power Systems / WAB e.V.

Germany’s offshore wind industry calls on the next federal government to increase the expansion corridors for offshore wind to at least 20 gigawatt (GW) by 2030 (at the moment: 15 GW), and to 30 GW by 2035, according to a joint press release issued by several industry associations. The auction results in the first half of 2017 have shown the cost reduction potential, and costs were one of the main reasons for capping expansion with the reform of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG). The first half of 2017 saw an additional 108 offshore wind turbines with a total capacity of 626 MW added to the German grid. Currently 1,055 turbines have a capacity of 4,749 MW in Germany.

Find the press release in German here.

For background read the CLEW article Operators to build offshore wind farms without support payments.

Rheinische Post

Almost every other German plans to spend money on increasing the energy efficiency of their home, Rheinische Post reports. In a survey conducted by Environmental Action Germany (DUH) and heating engineering company Vaillant, 48 percent said they planned to modernise the building they live in, whereas 46 percent pondered no such investment. The problem, though, lies in implementation: only one percent of the building stock is modernised every year, the newspaper writes. More than two thirds (68 percent) of respondents said they were ready to “personally contribute to the energy transition”, and 56 percent answered they wanted to have more information on support programmes and efficiency measures.

Also see the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and efficiency.

WWF / Germanwatch / BUND / NABU et al.

A coalition of German NGOs has called on the SPD’s frontrunner for this year’s federal election to explicitly endorse Germany’s climate protection targets, the environmental organisation WWF has said in a press release. The NGOs say the decision by the SPD-led federal state of Brandenburg to abandon its 2030 climate targets was a “climate policy backward roll”, and amounted to “a risk for all of Germany to meet its targets”. WWF Germany Director Jörg-Andreas Krüger said Germany “puts its credibility and sustainability on the line”, and might as well leave the Paris Agreement if Brandenburg, and also the CDU-led federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, pull through with their plans to reduce climate protection efforts. “We demand a clear commitment to the Paris Agreement and the national climate targets by chancellor candidate Martin Schulz,” said Sascha Müller-Kraenner, head of Environmental Action Germany (DUH).

Find the press release in German here, and an open letter to Schulz by the organisations here.

Kölner Stadtanzeiger

The energy policy plans of the new government of Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) bear the risk that the state “in the medium and long run is left behind as an energy region”, Peter Berger writes in Kölner Stadtanzeiger. In an open letter to the new governing coalition of the conservative CDU and the economic liberal FDP parties, researchers at the Cologne Institute for Renewable Energy (CIRE) say supporting lignite-fired power production and obstructing wind power expansion resulted in “Germany not reaching its climate targets”, Berger writes. There still are vast untapped potentials for solar and wind power in NRW, whereas support payments for other energy forms ought to be phased out, the researchers argue. Lignite might be “the only raw material, but not the only energy source we have”, they say.

See the CLEW factsheet Facts on the German state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia for background.

Welt Online

German energy start-up Conjoule is set to receive about 3.5 million euros from controversial Japanese nuclear plant operator Tepco, Jana Kugoth writes in Welt Online. The operator of the notorious Fukushima nuclear plant, which was severely damaged by an earthquake and a tsunami in 2011, invests in the spin-off of renewable utility innogy to benefit from Conjoule’s experiences in blockchain technology and digital energy services, Kugoth says. Japan’s energy market has recently been opened for non-public investors, “which elevates the interest in innovation and development of decentralised and digital energy services,” Conjoule co-founder Sam Warburton said. Blockchain technology helps private house owners sell privately generated power, for example from rooftop solar panels, Kugoth explains.

Read the article in German here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out and the CLEW article Looking back: Germany five years after Fukushima.

Handelsblatt Online

Germany is at risk of being caught in the middle of a looming conflict between Russia and the US over natural gas supplies to Europe, Klaus Stratmann writes in Handelsblatt. “The USA is intent on competing with Russia to become the dominant energy power” through ramping up its exports across the Atlantic “without considering the collateral damage”, Stratmann says. The US Senate has recently agreed on sanctioning all companies that are involved in the construction of Russia’s gas infrastructure, and this could severely affect German companies active in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project that connects Germany with Russia via the Baltic Sea, he argues. Envoys from several EU member countries, such as the UK, the Netherlands and Germany, now seek to influence the US House of Representatives to change the American strategy.

Read the article in German here (behind paywall).

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