Record sunshine benefits solar power owners / "Hothouse earth" fears
The exceptionally sunny weather in Germany is lavishing owners of solar panels with a lot of money, according to an article published on Welt Online. However, the rate of remuneration varies widely: those who installed solar panels in the early 2000s receive 57 eurocents per kilowatt hour they provide to the grid, compared to 12.08 eurocents per kilowatt hour for those who installed their panels at the beginning of August this year, the article says. Despite this drop, “Photovoltaics are still worthwhile today because the prices for the panels have fallen in recent years by almost the same extent as the feed-in tariff has,” Peter Kafke, energy consulting expert at the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV), said.
Read the article in German here.
See the CLEW article Germany’s power system weathers heat wave despite fossil plant curbs and the factsheet Volatile but predictable: forecasting renewable power production for more information.
The conversion to a new emissions test called the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) could cost German manufacturers billions of euros, Martin Seiwert writes in the WirtschaftsWoche. The German car industry has invested tens of billions of euros in diesel technology, but if official WLTP tests reveal that diesel-powered vehicles emit more CO2 than previously thought, automakers could be forced to abandon diesel, according to Seiwert. A study published by British market researcher cap hpi suggests both diesel vehicles and plug-in hybrids are indeed far more emissive than formerly believed, leading to concern in the industry, Seiwert writes.
Read the article in German here.
For background, read the factsheets Diesel driving bans in Germany – The Q&A and “Dieselgate” – a timeline of Germany’s car emissions fraud scandal.
Deutschlandfunk / Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
The dangers of our planet sliding into a “hothouse Earth” state are speculative but real, argues Georg Ehring in a commentary carried by the public radio broadcaster Deutschlandfunk, referencing a scientific paper published by a team of scientists, including from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Ehring says it is common knowledge that national objectives to cut emissions are insufficient to reach the Paris climate targets “especially if they are being ignored as brazenly as currently in Germany.” He continues: “The scientists’ scenario is a drastic reminder that the topic must be on top of the political agenda […] the next heatwave will surely come, only this time much more powerful than today.”
Keeping global warming to within 1.5-2°C may be more difficult than assumed, according to the paper published in the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Even if the carbon emission reductions called for in the Paris Agreement are met, there is a risk of the planet entering “hothouse Earth” conditions with temperatures stabilising at a global average of 4-5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures, write the authors, among them PIK director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. “What we do not know yet is whether the climate system can be safely 'parked' near 2°C above pre-industrial levels, as the Paris Agreement envisages. Or if it will, once pushed so far, slip down the slope towards a hothouse planet,” Schellnhuber said in a press release.
Read the commentary in German here.
Find the PIK’s press release here.
Find the link to the original article in PNAS here.
This summer's heatwave show that Germany must exit coal quickly, according to Greenpeace. The NGO said 10 of their activists ascended a glacier on Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze, to unfold a banner saying “Summer 2018: heat, drought, glacial melting – Start coal exit now!” Spokesperson Thilo Maack said the extreme weather events correspond to global warming forecasts. “We are in the midst of the climate crisis and it will get increasingly worse. The rapid speed of climate change stands in sharp contrast to the snail’s pace of policy. Germany must urgently shut down the first lignite plants, which are particularly harmful. In 2030, the last coal-fired plant must be off the grid.”
For background on Germany’s coal exit, read the article Commission watch – Managing Germany’s coal phase-out.
Neue Ruhr Zeitung
A 2-billion-euro fund should be created to assist German cities in the adaptation to climate change, Annalena Baerbock, chairwoman of the Green Party, says in an interview with the Neue Ruhr Zeitung. This money could be used not only to make agriculture more resilient, but also for forest fire protection and new urban planning measures, such as the creation of green spaces and fresh air corridors, according to Baerbock. The fund could also finance urban efforts to improve home insulation and flood protection, she continues. With regard to mitigating global warming, the federal government’s refusal to achieve domestic emissions reduction goals necessitates a clear climate protection programme that includes the decommissioning of coal-fired power plants as quickly as possible, she adds.
Read the interview in German here.
See the CLEW factsheet How much does Germany’s energy transition cost? for more information.
Recharge / E.ON
Despite unfavourable wind conditions, the commissioning of new offshore and onshore wind farms increased sales and earnings from renewables at German utility E.ON in the first half of 2018, reports Bernd Radowitz in Recharge. Sales in the renewables segment increased by four percent to 0.74 billion euros, while retail business sales rose to 11.5 billion euros. From the second half of this year, E.ON classifies its renewables segment as “discontinued operation,” as it will be transferred to rival utility RWE under a far-reaching asset and share swap deal that also involves RWE’s renewables subsidiary innogy.
Read the Recharge article (behind paywall) in English here.
For background, read the article RWE and E.ON overhaul power sector – German reactions to Innogy deal.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
As South Hesse’s regional assembly prepares to approve its renewable energy development plan by the end of this year, a new report published by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) is likely to lead to increased criticism of wind power expansion in the region, according to an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Currently, 11 percent of Germany’s land area is used for wind turbines, solar fields, and biogas and pumped storage power plants, and this figure is expected to grow in light of the government’s increasingly ambitious renewable energy deployment targets, the article says. To build “essential” support for Germany’s transition to a low-carbon economy, the agency’s report suggests that citizens should have more of a say in determining where and under what conditions new renewable energy facilities are built, according to the article.