Outrage over carmakers' diesel fume tests / Renewables beat coal in EU

Federal Government / Spiegel Online / Reuters

German government and VW head denounce diesel fume tests on monkeys and humans

Testing the effect of exhaust fumes on monkeys and even people cannot be ethically justified , Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesperson Steffen Seibert said at a press conference on Monday. The public outcry against the tests which exposed monkeys and humans to diesel fumes and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and were conducted by VW, Daimler and BMW was absolutely understandable, Seibert said. Seibert also said that the general objective of the tests was critical: “The automobile industry has to reduce toxic emissions […], they have to adhere to thresholds and they must not try to prove an alleged harmlessness of exhaust fumes.”
VW head Michael Müller said the tests carried out in the US by the EUGT, an institute that his company funded together with competitors BMW and Daimler, were “wrong and abhorrent”, Spiegel Online reports in a separate article. “I am sorry that Volkswagen was implicated in these events as a financier of the EUGT,” Müller said, pledging that “necessary consequences” were to follow.
In a further article by news agency Reuters, Volkmar Denner, head of car industry supplier Bosch, says the tests on animals would foil attempts to save the image of diesel technology. The revelations could mean a “severe setback” for the industry and further erode public trust in the companies, Denner warned. Bosch was a co-founder of the EUGT but backed out in 2013, the year before the tests were carried out, Reuters says.

Read the Spiegel Online article in German here and the article by Reuters in German here.

See CLEW’s dieselgate timeline for more information.

 

Deutschlandfunk

“A brazen attempt to dodge responsibility”

The tests with diesel fumes on humans and monkeys by a research institute funded by Germany’s major carmakers VW, BMW, and Daimler are “a brazen attempt to dodge responsibility” for the sake of economic gain, Silke Hahne says in a commentary for public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk. The tests’ only purpose “was to provide proof that nitrogen oxides (NOx) are not dangerous”, Hahne says, arguing that limit values “are determined politically for a good reason”. The companies now show remorse “but, once again, shove responsibility to individuals” rather than questioning whether their company culture is conducive to unethical behaviour, she argues.

Read the commentary in German here.

 

Zeit Online

Environment minister asks EU for more time to implement clean air measures

Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks has asked the EU Commission for more time to implement binding legislation for ensuring better air quality in inner cities, Zeit Online reports. At a meeting in Brussels, Hendricks said Germany would improve the air quality in the 20 most affected cities by 2020, admitting that “we’re not where we wanted to be” in lowering pollution from car emissions and other sources. “The emergency programme for clean air will bring about improvements,” Hendricks said. EU environment commissioner Karmenu Vella doubted that the measures planned by Germany will be sufficient. “Air pollution limit values will continue to be violated,” Vella said. The EU Commission has threatened to sue states who fail to comply with air quality standards.

Find the article in German here

 

Agora Energiewende / Sandbag

Energy transition in the European Union: renewables beat coal

More electricity was generated in Europe from wind, sun and biomass in 2017 than from lignite and hard coal, think tanks Agora Energiewende* and Sandbag say in their annual evaluation of the European energy transition. However, renewable energy sources are growing very unevenly across the EU, the authors found. The UK and Germany contributed to more than half of the increase in the past three years. Others, like France, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Hungary, have shown very low growth. Despite the increased use of renewable sources, greenhouse gas emission rose slightly due to higher electricity consumption and less hydropower and nuclear power in the electricity mix.

Read the evaluation in English here.

See the CLEW article Renewables cover about 100% of German power use for first time ever and the CLEW factsheet Coal in Germany for background.

*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.

 

Verivox

German wholesale power prices fall while natural gas prices surge

Wholesale power prices in Germany fell by four percent in 2017, price comparison website Verivox says in a press release. Prices at the electricity exchange EEX fell to 31.3 euros per megawatt hour (MWh), compared to 32.6 eur/MWh in the year before, Verivox says. “Apart from wholesale power prices, we also observe lower grid fees in certain regions. This is coupled with a lower level of taxes, surcharges, and levies,” says Christian Buske of Verivox. By contrast, prices for natural gas surged by 24 percent, from 14.0 eur/MWh in 2016 to 17.4 eur/MWh in the following year, the price comparison service adds.

Find the press release in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet Industrial power prices and the Energiewende for more information

 

University of Kassel

Germans largely satisfied with Energiewende measures but lament cost distribution – study

Most Germans are satisfied with the goals of the Energiewende and the measures taken to achieve them - but say that cost distribution is among the project’s greatest shortcomings, two different studies by the University of Kassel have found. People especially back the support of renewable energies and Germany’s nuclear exit, and most respondents said they expected energy prices to rise regardless of the energy transition’s progress, the university says in a press release. Regarding the Energiewende’s funding, most respondents say costs are not distributed fairly but also agree that the current principle of letting emitters pay proportionally to their greenhouse gas output is better than other funding principles, such as a flat rate or payments proportional to income. “This shows that economic self-interest plays a dominant role in agreeing to or rejecting certain rules of burden sharing,” says economist Andreas Ziegler. The argument that energy transition costs are distributed unfairly often was due to strategic considerations rather than to values, he argues.

Find the press release in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet on Citizens’ support for the Energiewende for more information.

 

Siemens Gamesa/Reuters

Wind turbine maker Siemens Gamesa reports strong demand end-2017

German-Spanish wind turbine maker Siemens Gamesa reported an increase in orders of 29 percent in the final three months of 2017 compared to a year earlier, driven by strong demand from the United States, Denmark, Thailand and Egypt. News agency Reuters writes that while the company’s revenue dropped in the period, which is the first quarter of its 2017/18 business year, the rise in orders and comments on easing pressure on its prices sent its shares on the stock market higher. Siemens Gamesa, which is the world’s second largest producer of wind turbines, struck an upbeat tone for both on- and offshore demand due to the global energy transition. “One factor driving this growth is wind's competitiveness, as it has actually underbid conventional fossil fuels in some recent auctions,” the company said.

Find the Siemens Gamesa press release here and the Reuters report here.

Read the CLEW dossier on the pressures the Energiewende’s booming flagship industry faces stormy times.

 

Federal Grid Agency

Grid agency lowers maximum support level in second offshore wind power auction

Germany’s grid agency BNetzA has said it will lower the maximum support rate in the second round of auctions for offshore wind power. Support will be reduced to a maximum of 10 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), after average support in the first round amounted to 0.44 cts/kWh and three out of four accepted bids required no support at all, the agency says. The auction, with total volume of 1,610 megawatts (MW), will start on 1 April and contains a “Baltic Sea quota” meant to ensure that at least 500 MW capacity are added in the Baltic Sea, rather than in the North Sea, the BNetzA says.

Find the press release in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet High hopes and concerns over onshore wind power auctions for more information.

 

dpa / Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

BMW paves way for merger with Daimler’s car sharing service

German carmaker BMW has bought the shares of car rental service Sixt in their joint car sharing service DriveNow, clearing the way for a merger with rival Daimler’s service Car2Go, news agency dpa reports in an article carried by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. BMW pays Sixt 209 million euros for about 50 percent of DriveNow and, if regulating authorities approve the deal, it could take effect in the second quarter, the article says. Sixt’s share in DriveNow has been regarded as a major hurdle for the merger with Car2Go, which would combine the platforms of the two brands that serve about three million customers each.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW dossier German carmakers and the Energiewende for background

 

ZDF heute

Foundation calls for bailout fund for the climate

German foundation World Future Council (WFC) says the current state of the global energy industry is like the financial industry on the eve of the global crisis in 2008. The group called for a bailout fund to absorb losses suffered because of the transition to a low-carbon energy system, Mischa Erhardt reports for public news broadcast ZDF heute. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, WCF chief economist Matthias Kroll said “a major problem of our time is that the fossil energy industry holds many assets that are threatened by the necessary quick exit from the fossil business”. This means the assets would become devaluated as the global transition to renewable energy sources advances, leading to “systemic risks” for the economy. Kroll proposes that these “toxic” fossil assets are bundled and bought by public institutions such as central banks, and that the profits be used for investments in renewables to make progress towards achieving the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to below two degrees Celsius. Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at Dutch bank ING-Diba, warned that “bundling crap does not turn it into gold”, adding that institutions such as the European Central Bank did not exist to save private companies.

Find the article in German here.

See the CLEW article Private climate finance under scrutiny on eve of Paris summit for background on climate protection and Germany’s financial system.

 

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