Report about coal exit plan causes stir / First hydrogen train starts
Der Spiegel/Clean Energy Wire
A report about a proposal by one of Germany’s coal commission co-heads for a coal exit by 2038 has caused irritation. Co-chair Ronald Pofalla also proposed taking 5-7 gigawatts of coal capacity off-line and into a security reserve by 2020, and revisiting the exit path by 2027, according to a report in magazine Der Spiegel. Some commission members were quick to reject the report and warned that the commission's work was in peril should individual members rush ahead. Commission member Christine Herntier, mayor of a twon in the affected lignite mining area of Lusatia, says the media report raised fundamental questions about the procedures of the commission, which she will bring up at the meeting on 18 September. Meanwhile, thousands of protesters marched at Hambach Forest, scheduled to be cleared to make room for lignite mining, after police has started to remove protest camps from the site.
Find more details in the CLEW article Report about coal exit plan causes irritation as commission to meet and background in commission watch - managing Germany's coal phase-out.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s Kerstin Schwenn, German minister of transport Andreas Scheuer, a member of the conservative CSU party, said the retrofitting of millions of diesel cars to make them cleaner and reduce emissions would not make sense and instead called for German automakers to improve scrappage programmes. While retrofitting some vehicles and municipal buses with software updates has proven effective, Scheuer said he still had concerns about proposed hardware retrofits and instead called on automakers to offer more attractive trade-in deals for car owners facing diesel bans in German cities. Commenting on Scheuer’s interview, environment minister Svenja Schulze, of the left-of-centre SPD, reiterated her call for hardware upgrades. “For months now, I have been promoting technical retrofits at the manufacturers' expense, and more and more allies have joined in this demand. Technical retrofits are the best and most just way out of the diesel crisis. They make the air cleaner and they help avoid driving bans and regain confidence in diesel.” According to the transport ministry, some 1.3 million cars in Germany could be affected by driving bans on older diesel cars, Die Welt reported.
Read the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung article in German here (behind paywall).
Read the environment ministry statement in German here.
Read the Die Welt article here.
Get background on the diesel story in the CLEW factsheet "Dieselgate" - a timeline of Germany's car emissions fraud scandal.
Germany’s coal phase-out will likely increase power prices in the wholesale market, according to a newly published report by petrochemical market information provider ICIS. ICIS’ energy analytics team used a model to simulate the impact of four coal phase-out scenarios and their impact on German power prices and CO2 emissions towards 2030. “Our models show that a German coal phase-out has the potential to significantly increase German spot power prices to levels between 55 euros/MWh and 60 euros/MWh through to 2023,” said Marcus Ferdinand, head of EU Power and Carbon Analytics at ICIS. Depending on the speed of the phase-out, German power prices would then correct downwards towards 2030, factoring in lower carbon prices and renewable capacity growth, the report predicts.
The world's first hydrogen fuel cell train has started commercial operation on 17 September in the German state of Lower Saxony, French rail group Alstom announced in a statement. The Coradia iLint, built by Alstom in Salzgitter, Germany, is equipped with fuel cells that convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity, eliminating pollutant emissions related to propulsion. Two hydrogen-powered, low-noise, zero-emission trains have begun commercial service in the state. The new trains will be initially fuelled at a mobile hydrogen filling station. The gaseous hydrogen is pumped into the trains from a 40-foot-high steel container next to the tracks at Bremervörde station. The trains can travel up 1,000 km throughout the network on one tank. Alstom will deliver a further 14 Coradia iLint trains in 2021, when a stationary filling station is also scheduled to go into operation.
Read Alstom’s press release here.
Germany’s federal government lacks an overall strategy for the electrification of the country’s railway network, according to the lobby group Pro-Rail Alliance. Citing the latest EU comparative figures, the Alliance said there were large differences in the degree of electrification between the rail networks of European countries. While Germany’s degree of rail electrification is at 60 percent and above the EU average of 54 percent, it’s far behind European leaders such as Switzerland with 100 percent rail electrification, Belgium (86 percent), the Netherlands (76 percent), Sweden (75 percent), Austria (72 percent) and Italy (71 percent). "While our European neighbours are upgrading their grids for environmentally friendly rail transport, we have in Germany a subsidy programme for regional rail lines for which the 2019 federal budget has allocated just 5 million euros," Pro-Rail Alliance Executive Director Dirk Flege said in an interview with daily newspaper Tagesspiegel. “This electrifies three kilometres.” Germany is aiming to reach 70 percent this year.
Read the Pro-Rail Alliance press release in German here.
Germany's climate protection efforts are proving insufficient to achieve its climate protection targets for 2020 as well as for the period from 2021 to 2030 in the areas of transport, buildings and agriculture, according to a joint report by sister think tanks Agora Energiewende and Agora Verkehrswende*. Germany’s climate protection targets in the sectors not covered by the EU emissions trading scheme ETS are legally binding under EU law. If Germany does not achieve them, it will have to buy additional emission rights from other EU countries at the level of the deficit, which could lead to billions in annual payments. “Instead of transferring billions of tax revenues to other EU countries every year, it seems more appropriate to take effective measures at home: for investments in energy-efficient buildings, faster refurbishment of buildings, advancing transport, and greater climate protection contributions from agriculture,” the study finds.
Read the report here.
*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende and Agora Verkehrswende are funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.
Get background in article Germany may have to buy way out of EU climate goal - ministry paper.
The new CO2 limits for passenger cars proposed by the European Parliament’s environment committee are going too far, Deutsche Bank analyst Eric Heymann says in a research note. Obviously, the committee was betting on a break-through of electric vehicles when it set the target to cut emissions by 20 percent by 2025 compared to 2021 and 45 percent by 2030 as such reductions were impossible with combustion engines, Heymann says. “It may sober or even frustrate ecologically oriented NGOs as well as some politicians and media, who frequently praise the benefits of e-mobility. But fact is that the average car buyer is not yet convinced of e-mobility.” Ultimately the committee’s plans amounted to climate policy with a sledgehammer, Heymann writes. Emissions could be reduced at lower cost in other sectors, so overly strict emission limits for cars would unnecessarily drive up the cost of climate action for the overall economy and for businesses, he says.
Find the research note in German here.