Parliament green-lights nuclear storage search law / Artificial sun
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung / BMUB
Germany’s parliament has approved legslation to authorise a search for a permanent nuclear waste storage site, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. The search will be conducted across the country and is meant to find a solution by 2031, the newspaper writes. The repository theoretically must provide a safe storage site for radioactive waste for a million years, it says.
“More than 30,000 generations will be affected by a nuclear technology that we’ve only used for 60 years,” environment minister Barbara Hendricks said in a speech preceding the decision in parliament, the environment ministry (BMUB) said in transcript of Hendricks's speech. These figures "make abundantly clear how much of a wrong path the use of nuclear energy was," Hendricks added.
Find the transcripts of Hendricks's speech in German here.
For background, see the CLEW factsheet What to do with the nuclear waste – the storage question.
The new law for finding a permanent nuclear repository in Germany aims “to offer proof that an enlightened society can find a place for the waste that nobody wants to have,” Michael Bauchmüller writes in a commentary for Süddeutsche Zeitung. But for this to be the case, “things need to be different from Gorleben,” he explains. [Gorleben, Germany’s temporary nuclear storage site, has been the theatre of vibrant resistance by locals for decades.] “Of course, affected citizens will protest against any final repository,” Bauchmüller writes. The state now needs to ensure the search will be conducted patiently and transparently. “This experiment can fail at many stages. But if it succeeds, the whole society will benefit from it,” Bauchmüller writes.
Read the commentary in German here.
German Aerospace Center
Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have started operation of the “world’s largest artificial sun,” dubbed “Synlight,” at the Jülich Research Centre near Cologne, the DLR says in a press release. Synlight will be used for researching production methods of solar fuels, such as hydrogen, according to the DLR. With a total of 149 xenon short-arc lamps, the system is capable of producing temperatures up to 3,000 degrees Celsius, allowing production of carbon-free hydrogen fuel independent from outdoor weather conditions. Johannes Remmel, environment minister in Synlight’s host state North Rhine-Westphalia, said “the energy transition will falter without investments in innovative research, in state-of-the-art technologies and in global lighthouse projects like Synlight."
Read the press release in English here.
Also see the CLEW dossier New technologies for the Energiewende.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
German chancellor Angela Merkel has defended diesel cars as environmentally friendly, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. “Diesel cars are as good for climate protection today as they were yesterday and the day before yesterday,” Merkel said during an election campaign rally in Saarland. The chancellor said it was “perfidious” of the Greens “and partly also of the Social Democrats” to tell people otherwise “because one company did not play by the rules.” German authorities in the past endorsed diesel cars as a climate-friendly alternative due to their lower emissions. Sales figures of cars equipped with the technology have fallen in the aftermath of Volkswagen’s “dieselgate” scandal, referring to the company’s practice of manipulating emissions values of their diesel cars.
Read the article in German here.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
The emissions fraud scandal engulfing Germany’s largest car manufacturer Volkswagen is not the only case in which companies manipulated their diesel engines to fulfil exhaust regulations, Martin Gropp writes for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Also VW’s German competitors Daimler and Opel as well as French manufacturer Renault or US-Italian producer Fiat-Chrysler are currently weathering their own “dieselgate,” Gropp writes. But while investigations of other companies were still in the early stages, VW already underwent “the largest legal battles of all,” he explains. Gropp cites a financial analyst saying that “a second VW-like case” was “unlikely,” since other carmakers stopped short of breaching the law.
For more information, see the CLEW factsheet Dieselgate forces VW to embrace green mobility.
Verivox / bild.de
Power prices for German households increase on average by 4.4 percent this spring, price comparison website Verivox told Clean Energy Wire. According to Verivox, 70 regional power suppliers will increase their prices, resulting in additional costs of about 54 euros for average households with a power consumption of 4,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) annually. By contrast, five suppliers were lowering prices, Verivox added.
Prices are set to rise in every German state, tabloid Bild writes on its website. But especially regions served by utility E.ON, comprising about twelve million households, will see prices rise - in some regions by more than 14 percent, Bild explains. According to the report, energy suppliers say the increase is due to a higher renewables surcharge, although wholesale power prices have fallen.
Read the article in German here.
For background, see the CLEW factsheet What German households pay for power.
Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand (CIED)
The lack of a specific phase-out policy for coal is a “missed opportunity of an accelerated decarbonisation of the German energy system,” according to a policy briefing by UK-based Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand (CIED). The paper argues that policies phasing out high-carbon practices create strong market signals to facilitate low-carbon innovations and help avoid sudden, unpredictable changes.
Find the briefing in English here.
A group of scientists including Hans Joachim Schellnhuber of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) are proposing a “carbon law” to halve anthropogenic CO₂ emissions every decade, aimed at achieving zero net emissions by mid-century. In an article in Science, the authors say this law would be applied to all levels in all sectors and countries and span innovation, institutions, infrastructure and investments. They are proposing concrete measures for countries and multilateral institutions in four phases until 2050.
Read the article in English here.
Germany needs a quota for the share of e-cars in total car sales, the president of the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) Maria Krautzberger said, reiterating earlier calls in an interview with Zeit Online. Krautzberger also said that she is sure that a “blue badge” would be introduced eventually. This badge would give cities a legal basis for banning older diesel cars in order to bring harmful nitrogen oxide emissions within EU limits.
Read the interview in German here.
For background, read the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector.
The number of publicly accessible e-car charging stations in Germany increased by 12 percent from mid-2016 to year’s end for a total of 7,407 in December 2016, the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) says in its bi-annual report on the country’s charging infrastructure. “The operation of public charging stations often is not economically viable, due to the low number of e-vehicles,” says BDEW head Stefan Kapferer in a press release.
For background read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.