25 May 2018, 00:00
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Renewables feed-in priority put into question / Jump in gas demand

Spiegel Online

The German energy ministry considers limiting the feed-in priority for renewable power to reduce the costs of managing grid bottlenecks, Stefan Schulze writes on Spiegel Online. “Green power plants could generally become part of bottleneck management,” an unpublished analysis for the ministry says, according to Schulze. By throttling down wind and solar power supply when the grid is overloaded, costs could be reduced “substantially” as opposed to the current scheme where coal and other fossil power plants are throttled down first, according to the analysis. However, limiting the feed-in priority for green power, a key policy instrument for establishing renewables in the country, would increase carbon emissions from power plants by approximately one percent, it says. Schulze writes that energy and economy minister Peter Altmaier could present a draft law this year to diminish the preferential treatment of renewables. Green Party leader Annalena Baerbock said changing the feed-in priority would damage “a cornerstone of the Energiewende.” She said the government now eyed curbing renewables instead of ensuring nuclear power is no longer supplied in regions with high grid workload and preventing that coal power clogs transmission lines.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW dossier The energy transition and the German power grid and the factsheet Re-dispatch costs in the German power grid  for background.

AG Energiebilanzen (AGEB)

Germany’s primary energy consumption rose strongly at the start of the year, mainly due to icy temperatures, according to energy research group AG Energiebilanzen (AGEB). The booming economy and population growth also pushed up energy use, which went up 5.7 percent year-on-year in the first quarter. Without the influence of the weather, consumption would have only risen 3 percent, according to the group’s estimates. Natural gas use soared almost 20 percent, reflecting its central role for heating in Germany, AGEB writes. Renewables production increased about 9 percent in the first quarter, because strong winds boosted turbine output, and more water in the country’s rivers pushed hydropower. Hard coal use dropped 12 percent, while lignite use decreased 1.5 percent.

Find the press release in German here.

For background, read the article Energy sector drives slight drop in German emissions in 2017.

Guardian / Germanwatch / Spiegel

Lawyers acting for an international group, including a family living on the German island of Langeoog, a French lavender farmer, and members of the indigenous Sami community in Sweden, have launched legal action against the EU for failing to do enough about climate change. The families claim their lives have been blighted by the policy decisions in Brussels, and that the EU’s inadequate emissions targets will cause more suffering, according to a Guardian report. The case is supported by a broad alliance of NGOs, among them German environmental NGO Germanwatch, which also supports the lawsuit of a Peruvian farmer against fossil utility RWE.

Find the Guardian article in English here.

Find a Spiegel Online article in German on the topic here.

Read a Germanwatch press release in German here, and find out more about the “People’s Climate Case” in English from the Climate Action Network Europe (CAN) here.

Deutsche Bank Research / DIW

The benefits of the planned Russian-German gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 outweigh the drawbacks, writes Josef Auer in a commentary for Deutsche Bank Research. It would increase supply security, as fewer countries are involved in transporting gas than before, and it could fill the gap from lower domestic gas production. He argues dependence on Russian gas will not increase since growing global supply, for example LNG from the US, will broaden Germany’s and Europe’s range of options. The combined capacities of the existing and the new Nord Stream would not be sufficient to compensate a “total loss of transit through the Ukraine”, and Russin President Vladimir Putin had said that Ukraine transit would continue if commercially viable.  
Claudia Kemfert, head of energy at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) writes in a commentary in DIW’s weekly publication that Germany’s choice to bet on construction of the contentious Nord Stream 2 pipeline and not building its own LNG terminal is an “expensive strategy and will push up consumer prices”. The pipeline – “economically and politically unnecessary” – reduces Europe’s market flexibility and increases the dependency on Russian supply, she writes. Europe’s natural gas demand will decrease in the quest to reach climate goals, although there is a role for the fossil fuel during a transition period, writes Kemfert.

Read the DIW commentary in German here and the Deutsche Bank commentary in German here.

For background, read the CLEW news digest piece Merkel says Ukraine must not be excluded from Nord Stream 2 pipeline and the factsheet Germany’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.


Germany could see a substantial drop in wind power expansion in the next years, Kathrin Witsch writes for the Handelsblatt. Capacity growth could drop from 6,500 megawatts (MW) in 2017 to merely 1,100 in 2019, she writes. The introduction of Germany’s renewables auction system and a general drop in support payments have hit the industry hard, Witsch writes. Nearly 40 percent of over 1,200 international wind power companies said in a survey that the situation for onshore wind power Germany is worse than in many other regions in Europe and around the world, Witsch says. Bidders offering to operate offshore wind power farms without any support has meant “a radical change” for the industry, but companies are optimistic that the situation could improve by 2020 as costs for manufacturers will likely fall as well. However, companies like industrial heavyweight Siemens are calling on the German government to ramp up expansion plans, especially offshore, to avoid layoffs and an expansion gap in the sector, Witsch says.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW factsheets on Germany’s onshore and offshore wind energy industry for background.

pv magazine

German solar panel producer Solarworld is attracting the interest of many potential investors after filing for insolvency in March, Sandra Enkhardt writes in pv magazine. More than a dozen potential buyers have expressed interest, and insolvency administrator Christoph Niering says preserving jobs and know-how at the company is a priority when it comes to finding an investor, Enkhardt writes. “Solarworld’s production facilities are part of the core of the German and European solar industry, which is still a leader in technology and sustainable production,” pv magazine quotes Niering as saying. In April, Solarworld said it would continue production of solar modules and ship them internationally, while production of solar cells will be halted at least temporarily, Enkhardt writes.

Read the article in German here.

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

Spiegel Online

Popular German news site Spiegel Online has renamed its “car” section “mobility” to reflect the upheaval in the sector caused by digitalisation, environmental concerns, and heavy traffic. “Our understanding of mobility is undergoing a fundamental shift. The century of the car as the ideal of individual mode of transport is over,” Spiegel Online writes on its website. The subject of mobility – including bikes, public transport, and mobility services – is now drawing many readers compared to the past, according to Spiegel Online, which plans to extend its coverage.

Read the statement in German here.

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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