08 Jan 2018, 00:00
Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Power costs could cause company exodus–BDI /Church torn down for coal

dpa / Spiegel Online

Germany’s largest industry federation, BDI, warns that high power prices could lead to an exodus of companies to cheaper production locations abroad, news agency dpa reports in an article carried by Spiegel Online. BDI head Dieter Kempf said Germany had to cease “going it alone” on national energy policy to prevent power price rises and jobs moving abroad. “A guiding principle of energy and climate policy should not be to weaken but rather to strengthen industrial competitiveness,” Kempf said. The BDI president said Germany’s continued economic boom, high net immigration levels and an accelerated nuclear exit had changed the calculus for Germany’s climate protection targets. Industry continued to back the Paris Climate Agreement, he said, but it was necessary to look at its long-term aims rather than try to fulfil short-term emissions reduction targets at all costs. The BDI will publish an extensive study on climate protection on 18 January, he added.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW factsheets Industrial power prices and the Energiewende and What business thinks of the energy transition, the dossier Energiewende effects on power prices, costs and industry, and the CLEW Preview2018 interview Cutting power costs tops German industry’s agenda – DIHK for more information.

Protestors temporarily interrupted German energy company RWE’s demolition of a protected church in the town of Immerath in western German state North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Manfred Kriener writes on Greenpeace activists occupied the listed heritage building, Immerather Dom, rolling out a banner saying “Those who destroy culture also destroy people,” and forcing RWE to temporarily halt the procedure. RWE later resumed the demolition, in order to make way for the lignite mine Garzweiler.

Find the article in German here.

Die Welt

A decision by Germany’s Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) to cap grid operators’ profits has led to a “revolt” in the industry, Michael Gassmann writes for Die Welt. Over 1,000 companies, including many municipal utilities, have filed a complaint against the BNetzA arguing reduced profits led to a lack of “urgently needed investments” in the grid, Gassmann says. The need for investment in the grid is evident from the increasing number of grid interventions to balance intermittent power supply from renewable energy installations, which cost grid operator TenneT, for example, nearly 1 billion euros in 2017, he writes. A family of four with average power consumption would have to pay around 40 euros per year in grid fees to allow operators to carry out the necessary upgrades, Gassmann says. On 17 January, a court in Düsseldorf will decide on the maximum permissible profits by grid operators.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s power grid for more information.

IG Metall Küste

Germany’s next government must ramp up expansion targets for wind power to meet the country’s climate targets and secure stable conditions for the industry, trade union IG Metall Küste says in a press release. IG Metall called on state premiers, particularly from northern German states, to put the issue high on the agenda during exploratory talks to form a government of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU block and the Social Democrats (SPD). Olaf Lies, environment minister of northern wind power state Lower Saxony, said caps on the expansion of onshore and offshore wind power capacities must be removed to meet the country’s 2030 climate targets and secure jobs in the industry. “The latest auctions have shown that renewable power can be produced offshore without any additional funding,” Lies said, adding that Germany should increase its expansion goal for offshore wind power to 20 gigawatts (GW) installed capacity by 2030 (current goal: 15 GW).

Read the press release in German here.

See the CLEW dossier Onshore Wind Power in Germany for background.


Coal will continue to be an important component of Germany’s power supply for at least another three decades, Saxony’s state premier Michael Kretschmer told news agency Reuters. As an industrialised country, Germany “cannot afford to do without this domestic energy source”, Kretschmer argued. Coal mining regions such as Lusatia in Saxony would need at least 30 years to carry out a structural economic transition away from the fossil fuel, he said. Kretschmer called on the federal government to provide 1 billion euros to initiate this transition, and to refrain from announcing concrete exit dates for coal-fired power production, as these had often turned out to be false in the past. “What matters is what can be done economically,” he said.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW factsheets When will Germany finally ditch coal? and Coal in Germany for background.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Several communities, local governments and regional parliaments in the small German state of Saarland oppose plans by hard coal mining foundation RAG-Stiftung to progressively reduce pumping mine water and let groundwater levels rise, Bernd Freytag reports for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. There is no risk of communities in Saarland being flooded, he writes. However, according to critics, possible consequences include earthquakes, rising ground levels in affected areas, and pollution of drinking water. Mine water is one of the coal mining’s long-term liabilities, and pumping it out of the Saarland mines currently costs 18 million euros a year, according to RAG.

For background, read the CLEW factsheets When will Germany finally ditch coal?  and Coal in Germany.


The transition away from combustion engines to electric ones will destroy many jobs in the German car industry, but also create new ones, Henrik Mortsiefer writes in Der Tagesspiegel. “An electric car consists of about 200 parts, a car running with petrol or diesel of more than 1,000,” he writes, suggesting that there will be a net drop in demand for engineers, mechanics and other professionals. According to calculations by trade union IG Metall, labour demand in engine production could fall to one seventh of current levels, Mortsiefer says, but adds that most studies fail to take into account “converse employment trends occurring on the way into the future.” A study commissioned by the European Climate Foundation (ECF)* argues that building up capacities for e-car production would actually increase overall employment in the sector by 2030, while increasing digitalisation associated with the energy transition could create further employment opportunities in car manufacturing and beyond.

Find the article in German here.

See the CLEW dossier The digitalisation of the Energiewende for more information.

*The Clean Energy Wire is jointly funded by the European Climate Foundation and the Mercator Foundation.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The Grenfell Tower fire that killed at least 79 people in London last summer has led to scepticism of the insulation industry and made it more difficult to achieve the German energy transition goal of greater efficiency in the heating sector, Mechtild Harting writes in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. German chemical industry heavyweight BASF, which produces polystyrene used to insulate building facades, says sales of the material have fallen significantly since the Grenfell fire. “The material’s image has suffered,” BASF’s Sabine Philipp said, adding that it had not been used in Grenfell Tower. According to BASF, people are more willing to use flammable materials such as wood, despite polystyrene carrying very limited risk, so long as the synthetic insulation material is used in accordance with safety regulations.

See the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and Efficiency for more information.

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