22 Jun 2017, 00:00
Sven Egenter Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Renewables expansion caps challenged / Salt cavern batteries

Social Democratic parliamentary group in the Bundestag (SPD)

Germany must “significantly increase” its goals for renewables expansion to supply all sectors with electricity in the future and reach its own climate targets, writes the Social Democratic parliamentary group in the Bundestag (SPD) in a new position paper. “We have agreed this paper to increase pressure to reach our climate targets. Every sector must contribute,” the group said in a press release. The fact that Germany will likely miss its 2020 targets not only damages the country’s role as an example for others, but also inhibits innovation and growth, the group says. Proposals for concrete measures include:

  • Introducing a climate protection law
  • Further developing European emissions trade (EU ETS) as the central climate protection instrument, or starting negotiations on an EU-wide CO₂ floor price
  • Reducing energy imports, increasing use of local renewable energy generation and introducing measures to further increase efficiency
  • Supporting not only regions affected by “necessary step-by-step reduction of coal-fired power generation”, but also regions “shaped by hard coal mining” – as structural change is not yet complete

The Social Democratic Party is to decide on its election campaign programme at the end of this week.

Find the press release in German here and the paper in German here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier Vote2017 - German elections and the Energiewende.

Clean Energy Wire

Germany’s chancellery chief Peter Altmaier has stressed the need to maintain caps on new offshore wind development in order to incentivize companies to lower the cost of the technology. Limits to the amount of new capacity in the tenders were necessary for competitive bidding, Altmaier told the annual conference of utilities association BDEW in Berlin. Environmentalists and renewable lobbies have called to lift the caps on offshore expansion after two companies won the right to build new offshore wind parks with zero-subsidy bids. “As soon as the amount (tendered) is large again, any need to think about competitive prices falls away,” Altmaier said. In a speech largely focusing on the current government’s energy policy record for the closing legislative period, he also hinted at the need to change the way the renewables support is financed after September’s elections in order to keep power price rises in check, though he fell short of hinting what change he would favour.

Find an article on the offshore wind auction results here and background on the debate about changing the financing mechanism for renewables in a factsheet.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Underground salt caverns in the northern German region of Frisia could become the “world’s largest battery”, German energy company EWE AG told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. EWE plans to use the caverns as large redox flow batteries. Commonly, climate-harmful sulfuric acid in combination with Vanadium is used in these batteries, but EWE plans to use alternatives, Andreas Mihm reports. The batteries would store the region’s sometimes large excess of wind power and could store enough power to supply a large city like Berlin for one day. EWE is currently performing successful small-scale tests above ground and plans to put the caverns to use from 2023.

Read the article (behind paywall) in German here.

For background read the CLEW dossier New technologies for the Energiewende.

The Telegraph

The planned Russian-German natural gas pipeline project Nord Stream 2 “is a raw example of how Berlin captures the EU machinery,” writes Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in an article for The Telegraph. “Brussels set aside EU law on Nord Stream, yet enforced it on the other pipelines such Yamal and Southstream. Solidarity and the rule of law in the EU apply only when the Kanzleramt chooses,” Evans-Pritchard writes.

Read the article in English here.

See the CLEW dossier The Energiewende's implications for international security for background.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Germany’s failure to resolve national alignment of power grid fees is down to politicians stalling in order to appease voters in the country’s most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Michael Bauchmüller writes in Süddeutsche Zeitung. Former Social Democratic (SPD) economy minister Sigmar Gabriel “did not want to have a debate about additional financial burdens for industry in the heavy-industry heartland” before the vote in May, Bauchmüller writes. Gabriel, who is now foreign minister, deliberately erased a passage from a draft law designed to end regional differences in grid fees, which are up to twice as high in northern and eastern Germany as in southern and western regions, including NRW, according to Bauchmüller. National alignment appears out of reach in spite of an appeal by Chancellor Angela Merkel to make progress: the CDU suggests partially including grid fees in the renewables surcharge, for which energy-intensive industries get rebates – a solution that might not get a majority in the federal coalition with the SPD before the parliamentary summer break next week.

Read the article in German here.  

See the CLEW factsheet Power grid fees – unfair and opaque? for background.

Die Welt

The apparent success of citizens’ energy projects in Germany’s first onshore wind power auction in May was met with relief by those who feared the new support scheme might favour large companies at the expense of smaller bidders, Daniel Wetzel writes in Die Welt. But evidence was mounting that the victorious citizens’ projects might not be worthy of the name. “There is reason to suspect that large, professional wind power project developers founded citizen energy cooperatives themselves and sent their members as stooges to seize construction contracts with rebates,” Wetzel writes. Several important industry groups, such as the BDEW and the BWE, have sent a letter to government representatives in parliament demanding a change in the legal definition of citizen cooperatives. Germany’s Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) examined all successful citizens’ projects in order to identify possible fraud cases, he writes.

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

City of Berlin

The city of Berlin has set out concrete steps to achieve its goal of drastically reducing its CO2 emissions by 2050, the city council said in a press release. Its new Energy and Climate Protection Programme 2030 (BEK 2030) contains around 100 efficiency and emissions-reduction measures that affect energy generation, transport, construction, business and private households, the city council says. “Berlin is supposed to become a model city for successful urban climate protection,” Berlin’s environment senator Regine Günther said. The city expects that implementing the BEK 2030 will cost about 94 million euros by 2021.

Measures include:

  • Phasing out coal-fired power generation and expanding renewables
  • Identifying climate-protection concepts for industrial zones
  • Expanding advertising and learning opportunities for climate-friendly behaviour
  • Increasing the city’s public green spaces
  • Providing more and better public transportation, cycling infrastructure and e-car charging systems

Find the press release in German here and the BEK 2030’s outline in German here.  

Read the CLEW dossier Cities, municipalities and the Energiewende for background.

Federal State of Baden-Wuerttemberg

The southern German federal state of Baden-Wuerttemberg plans to considerably step up efforts to promote e-mobility, the state’s Green-led government said in a press release. “The aim is to make Baden-Wuerttemberg Germany’s centre for the development and production as well as its leading market for e-mobility,” the press release says. State premier Winfried Kretschmann says “the mobility sector and especially the automotive industry are undergoing a profound transformation with far-reaching consequences for the state’s entire economy and tens of thousands of jobs,” which was why the state government wants to steer this process to allow the important car-manufacturing region to benefit from it. By 2021, Baden-Wuerttemberg plans to invest more than 43 million euros in constructing 2,000 new charging stations so “there will be one within a range of 10 kilometres everywhere.”

Find the press release in German here.

See the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers for more information.

Der Spiegel

To compensate for loss of revenue after Brexit, EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger proposes that member states could transfer part of their tax revenues to the EU, including revenues from taxes on CO₂ emission rights, he told German weekly Der Spiegel in an interview. “These revenues are based on European laws, but so far go to the member states,” said Oettinger. The commissioner plans to publish a paper with proposals on the future financing of the EU next week, Der Spiegel reports.

Read an article on Spiegel Online in German here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet Understanding the European Union’s Emissions Trading System .

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
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