17 Dec 2015
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'Second energy transition needed' / Learning from the Germans

Die Zeit

“We can do it one more time”

Germany needs nothing less than a second energy transition in order to achieve its climate target of reducing emissions by 80-95 percent by 2050, writes Petra Pinzler in an op-ed for Die Zeit. It must be undertaken not only by politicians and businesses, but also by citizens and consumers, Pinzler writes. In the future, thousands of small decisions taken by households about insulating their homes, exchanging inefficient heat pumps with new ones, buying carbon certificates when flying and not taking children to afternoon activities in SUVs will make the difference – for the country and the climate.


Huffington Post

“After Paris, learning from Germany’s renewable revolution”

Sceptics often point to the admittedly high cost of Germany’s Energiewende, writes Justin Talbot Zorn in the Huffington Post. “But the media treatment of Germany's energy transition misses a crucial point: The bulk of the costs were incurred at a time when renewable technologies like wind and solar were orders of magnitude more expensive,” argues Zorn. “But this was the whole point of the energy transition. The country expanded renewables at a time when they were expensive on purpose. The objective was to make them less expensive over time by encouraging their widespread use - at home and abroad.” Zorn says that thanks to today’s lower renewable prices “there’s reason to believe that America is poised for its own energiewende”.

Read the article in English here.

Find a CLEW factsheet on Germany’s Renewable Energy Act here.

“Four Things Kentucky could learn from Germany’s Energy Transition”

Erica Peterson reviews lessons from the Energiewende for Kentucky, after a whole series of articles investigating the energy transition in Germany. These are: 1) Reinvention takes time and involves failure; 2) There’s a high cost; 3) Preserve heritage when reinventing coal mining areas and 4) Personal buy-in is necessary. “Germany doesn’t have all the answers. But that country’s experience should be instructive for Kentuckians,” writes Peterson. 

Find the article in English here.


Agora Energiewende

“Germany’s energy consumers save almost 9 billion euros in 2015”

German energy prices in 2015 recorded their steepest fall since reunification, according to energy think tank Agora Energiewende*. Preliminary calculations suggest energy costs borne by consumers fell almost seven percent compared to 2014, mainly due to lower oil prices. “In total, German consumers spent about 9 billion euros less on energy than would have been the case had prices remained unchanged,” according to the think tank.

Find the press release in German here.


Spiegel Online

“Nuclear phase-out: Conservatives risk disaster costing taxpayers billions”

The law to close a legal loophole to prevent utilities from evading the multi-billion euro costs of the nuclear phase-out has effectively been delayed until 2016, reports Spiegel Online. Lawmakers from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Conservative Party (CDU) blocked a parliamentary decision on the law, making it impossible for it to take effect this year, writes Stefan Schultz. The CDU says it wants to link the law to a commission report on the financing of the nuclear exit, expected at the end of February. A high-ranking member of the government told Spiegel the delay was dangerous because utility E.ON will officially be split in two on January 1. According to business daily Handelsblatt, the utilities want the issue to be settled by law as quickly as possible to prevent insecurity on financial markets.
Under current laws, the utilities are only liable for spun-off companies for five years. According to the new draft law, the companies would be liable for as long as it takes, even if they spin off their nuclear activities. Energy minister Sigmar Gabriel has called the proposal the “parents are liable for their children law”. 

Read the Spiegel article in German here.

Find the CLEW factsheet “Securing utility payments for the nuclear clean-up” here.



“What the Paris Climate Agreement means for investors”

There cannot be a “business as usual”-approach after the Paris Agreement for companies nor investors, according to Ingo Speich, Senior Portfolio Manager at Union Investment, the prominent investment arm of the DZ Bank Group. “For wealth managers and investors, the Paris agreement has far-reaching implication,” writes Speich in a commentary in manager-magazin. Shareholders often operate with much longer-term horizons than managers, and this is why stock owners need to insist the company pursues a truly sustainable business model, taking into account the issue of climate change. “For investors, it is more important than ever to take account climate aspects when evaluating the risks and opportunities of their holdings,” writes Speich.

Read the article in German here.


Die Zeit

“Do not rejoice too quickly”

Few things are more harmful to the global energy transition than the low and falling price of oil and coal, writes Claus Hecking in Die Zeit. The Paris Agreement will have to be implemented by businesses around the world – but the ‘drugs’ that industries, investors and consumers are supposed to be weaned from, are currently on special offer. The demand in oil heating units is increasing again in Germany. The matching antidote to this issue would be prices for carbon emissions, either through a tax or emissions trading, climate activists and economists agree.



“The chicken-and-egg problem”

The roll-out of electric mobility requires a dense network of charging stations, write Valerie Wilms, a Green MP and chair of local utility Stadtwerke Lübeck, and Marcus Börske, head of grid operator net Lübeck. In a guest column in Handelsblatt, the authors argue it is a mistake that the current proposal for the reform of the power market rules out grid operators, to rely entirely on private investors to build the charging stations. The authors say as long as the number of electric vehicles remains low, investors have little incentive to build charging stations – thereby limiting the attractiveness of electric vehicles.

Read a CLEW factsheet on Germany's new power market design here.


*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.

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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