13 Sep 2018, 14:06
Benjamin Wehrmann

Police start evicting anti-coal activists/ US ambassador promotes LNG

Rheinische Post / Police Aachen / Greenpeace

Police in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) have started clearing the anti-coal activist camp in the embattled Hambach Forest, the Rheinische Post reports in a live blog. Police set up a perimeter around the forest and started moving into the camps where activists have held out for years to prevent the expansion of a nearby lignite mine. In what is described as “one of the biggest police operations in recent NRW history,” security forces began pulling people out of their self-made tree houses and removing barriers to vehicles that had been constructed throughout the forest, the newspaper says.
Local police said on Twitter that the tree houses had to be cleared due to “fire protection requirements,” and called on activists to cooperate with the security forces and leave the forest peacefully. Police said they would use “coercive measures” if need be, adding that “we don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

Environmental organisation Greenpeace criticised the operation in a mailed statement. “The government of NRW makes itself complicit with [energy company] RWE’s dangerous strategy of escalation,” Greenpeace spokeswoman Gesche Jürgens said. “While the coal exit commission negotiates a compromise for a socially acceptable coal exit, the federal government looks on with hands in their pockets as RWE pours oil on a social conflict in Hambach Forest.” She called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to step in and halt the forest’s clearing until a compromise has been reached.

Read the live blog in German here.

See CLEW's Coal exit commission watch for background.


Europe and Germany should “share in America’s abundance” and cooperate with the US in energy policy by buying natural gas from America, the US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, writes together with US deputy secretary of energy Dan Brouillette in a guest article in the Handelsblatt. “Governments throughout Europe have been seeking reliable – and diversified – sources of energy ” to ensure supply security and try to make sure “that no one country or corporation can disproportionately influence millions of Europeans,” the authors say. “The US is capable of supplying LNG, for the benefit of Germans and all Europeans,” they write, adding that liquefied natural gas (LNG) “is an ideal companion to renewables” that could bridge times of low solar and wind power output. Grenell and Brouillette stress that “America remains committed to transparent, fair, and open markets,” that their country “fully embraces the western economic system,” and that it is ready to compete with other, “more opaque suppliers.” 

Read the article in English here .  

For background, read the CLEW news piece Qatar Petroleum in talks with Uniper and RWE over German LNG terminal, the factsheet Gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 links Germany to Russia, but splits Europe, and the dossier The role of gas in Germany's energy transition.

Tagesspiegel Background

The German government is preparing the launch of a commission tasked with finding measures to make buildings more energy efficient and bring down carbon emissions in the heating sector, Susanne Ehlerding writes in the energy policy newsletter Tagesspiegel Background. According to the article, the commission - envisaged in the government coalition treaty - will comprise about 20 members from academia, civil society, and the real estate and construction industries, and will hold its first meeting in October.

See the CLEW factsheet Climate, energy and transport in Germany’s coalition treaty for more information.

Welt Online

The regional municipality association Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe (LWL) mulls selling its shares in German energy company RWE as “grave changes on the energy market” mean that “the time of big plant operators is over,” Welt Online reports. LWL director Matthias Löb said having a share in RWE no longer meant that municipalities have any influence over the company’s activities, which is why he pondered selling its one percent share worth 147 million euros. The mayor of Dortmund, Ullrich Sierau, criticised Löb for his ideas as a share in RWE allowed municipalities “to actively shape the energy transition’s course.”

Read the article in German here.

Read the CLEW dossier Utilities and the energy transition for more information.

German Environment Ministry

The US states, cities, companies, and civil society actors that have confirmed their unwavering support for international climate action despite the US administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement “gives courage” to everyone adhering to the idea that international cooperation can help solve major challenges, Jochen Flasbarth, state secretary in the German environment ministry (BMU), said at the Global Climate Action Summit held in the US state of California. “From San Francisco to New York, we still have many American allies for establishing an ambitious climate agenda,” Flasbarth said. He added that the cities’ support for climate action is especially important as these are responsible for 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and are set to grow considerably in size by the middle of the century.

Read the press release in German here.

pv magazine

German economy and energy minister Peter Altmaier has rebuffed opponents of the planned SuedLink power transmission line by reportedly not joining a planned meeting in the economy ministry (BMWi), Heinz Wraneschitz writes in the pv magazine. Critics also point out that Altmaier has not made good on his promise given in March that “I will have personally visited each problematic power line after six months in office,” Wraneschitz says. Grid expansion opponents therefore will also refrain from taking part in the meeting in the ministry.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW article New “Power Grid Action Plan“ to accelerate network development and the dossier The energy transition and Germany’s power grid for more information.

Freie Presse

The last factory of Germany’s former solar power champion SolarWorld in the eastern German state of Saxony has ceased production, Frank Hommel writes in the newspaper Freie Presse. “The last remaining materials have been used up, the last solar panel has been produced,” he says. Andre Dobiey, the insolvency administrator of the company that declared bankruptcy in March, says production at the Saxony plant “has been put on hold,” adding that panel production could be resumed once a new investor has been found.

Read the article in German here.                                  

For background, read the CLEW article Last major German solar cell maker surrenders to Chinese competition.

Welt Online

One of Germany’s largest wind farm operators, wpd AG, is buying up old wind farms that are about to reach the end of their 20-year guaranteed remuneration period to operate the turbines without renewables support, Daniel Wetzel writes on Welt Online. “We can bring large volumes on the market this way and at the same time generate cost advantages when it comes to the operation and maintenance of installations,” wpd CEO Carsten Meyer said. About 14,000 turbines in Germany will lose their guaranteed remuneration by 2026, giving the used turbine market “a huge potential” that could especially be used for power purchase agreements (PPA), under which larger customers buy the wind farms’ power output at a fixed rate, Wetzel writes. Repowering measures, where old turbines are replaced by new and more efficient models, are often hampered by tight regulations applicable to more powerful turbines. According to CEO Meyer, the old farms’ average revenue without support amounts to just under one third of their initial value.

See the CLEW factsheet German onshore wind power for more information.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The city of Berlin will double the support paid to entrepreneurs that decide to buy an electric car, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. The so-called buyer’s premium for commercial vehicles will be raised from 4,000 euros, paid for by the federal government, to 8,000 euros, with the remainder being paid by the German capital’s senate, the article says. The raised premium is part of Berlin’s 3-million euros programme aimed at promoting the introduction of electric vehicles in company fleets, and is also available to doctors, lawyers, self-employed people, registered associations and others .

For background, read the CLEW article Federal government decides on 4,000 euro buyer's premium for e-cars and the dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.

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