18 Oct 2017, 00:00
Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Renewables' system impact overrides costs - study / Coal power cap

German Institute for Economic Research

Expanding the capacity of renewable energy sources in Germany should be focussed on long-term stabilisation effects on the energy system rather than cutting costs by maximising output, a study by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) suggests. Researchers say basing the expansion of renewable sources like solar panels or wind turbines on a so-called “market value model” that anticipates how well installations can be integrated into a future energy system will optimise costs and desired energy transition effects in the long-run. “It’s becoming more and more important to produce power when it’s needed,” says Jörn Richstein, one of the study’s authors. This, for instance, would mean that solar panels need to be constructed facing east or west to catch sunlight at times when most other panels, which face south to maximise output, produce less, the DIW says. However, operators did not know whether future power wholesale prices will increase revenues, cutting incentives to build installations that are conducive to the entire energy system. The authors say, therefore, that renewables auctions ought to include a “market value factor” for individual bids to adjust a project’s chances of success by accounting for its system support.

Find a DIW press release in German here.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

The outgoing grand coalition of CDU/CSU and SPD made the mistake of not putting a general cap on coal-fired power production when it mothballed several old an inefficient lignite plants in 2016 in order to save CO₂ emissions, Jochen Flasbarth, Social Democrat and state secretary in the environment ministry told Michael Bauchmüller in an interview for Süddeutsche Zeitung. “As a result, we have a few power plant units less, but not less coal power. The other [plants] just produce more,” said Flasbarth. The next federal government should introduce limits for German coal power volumes, similar to the country’s nuclear phase-out plans.

Germany’s bad climate record is not down to “a lack of insight” of the grand government coalition’s personnel over the past four years, said Flasbarth. Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chief of the Chancellery Peter Altmaier and former economy minister Sigmar Gabriel had all been environment ministers at some point in their career. “Yet, there was a great reluctance to initiate deep-rooted structural change.” The fear of driving people into the arms of populists had stood in the way of necessary decisions, Flasbarth argued.

Read the interview in German (behind paywall) here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheets Germany's new power market design and When will Germany finally ditch coal?

German Energy Agency (dena)

The energy transition in the building sector can be implemented most efficiently without a focus on any one technology, writes the German Energy Agency in a joint study with several associations and companies. “All available efficiency technologies must be used. Too strong a focus on electrifying heating supply would lead to high costs and an increased need for retrofitting,” said dena head Andreas Kuhlmann. Dena examined different scenarios for the transformation of the building sector and compared factors such as costs, energy imports and infrastructure needs. Additional action was needed in the sector for Germany to reach its climate targets, writes dena.

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

For background, read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and Efficiency.


German utility innogy plans to expand the country’s e-car charging infrastructure by enabling private companies to provide their own charging stations to the public with a new digital platform called eMarketplace, the group says in a press release. “Not all charging stations on a company’s premises are needed all of the time,” says Stefan von Dobschütz, innogy’s e-mobility branch director. Companies could choose which stations they open for the public and receive a remuneration for the power they provide, innogy says.

Find the press release in German here

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

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Electric cars will be needed both as a greener form of transport and as storage devices for a power grid that relies on intermittent renewable energy sources if Germany is to hit its Paris Climate Agreement targets, Michael Neißendorfer writes in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “In an ideal case, money can be made [by e-car owners] with a pv installation on the roof, a battery in the basement and an e-car in the garage,” he writes. The so-called Vehicle to Grid technology, also referred to as bi-directional charging, enables car owners to both withdraw power from the grid and to supply it back if the car is not in use, Neißendorfer says. Japanese carmaker Nissan, which is about to test such a system in the Netherlands and the UK, said car owners could earn on average about 400 euros annually if they provide power back to the grid.

Read the article in German here.

Also see the CLEW factsheet How can Germany keep the lights on in a renewable energy future?

Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control

Imports of natural gas to Germany rose by 19.5 percent between January and August 2017 compared to the same period last year, the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (Bafa) says in a press release. The country imported 3,060,298 terajoule of natural gas worth 14.3 billion euros. At the same time, the price for imported gas rose by 14.2 percent compared to the 2016 period, the Bafa says.

Find the press release in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet Germany’s dependence on imported fossil fuels for background.

New York Times

German company Sonnen seeks to disrupt the energy market by decentralising energy supply and connecting energy-producing households with one another, Stanley Reed writes in the New York Times. The company from Bavaria, which is active in Europe, the US and Australia, was “a kind of energy Facebook”, says investor Paul-Josef Patt. He added that Sonnen might make utilities redundant as new electricity sources and progressing digitalisation are changing the energy market’s structure.

Read the article in English here.                       

See the CLEW article Pilot project taps batteries & blockchain to iron out renewable power for more information. 

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