Germany’s energy consumption - and probably the country’s greenhouse gas emissions - increased slightly in 2016, says energy market research group AG Energiebilanzen (AGEB) in its report on energy consumption. The data confirms AGEB’s estimates from December 2016. Colder weather, 2016’s leap day, a growing economy, low prices for fossil fuels, and population growth led to a 1.1 percent rise in Germany’s primary energy consumption, compared to 2015. “There are actually doubts that the federal government’s goal to lower primary energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020, compared to 2008, will be reached – especially because 2016 did not contribute towards this goal,” writes AGEB. Electricity consumption remained almost stable (- 0.1 percent) in 2016. An increase in power demand is likely if the heating and transport sectors switch to electricity as their primary energy source in the future. It could make sense for Germany to reinterpret its goal to lower power consumption by 10 percent by 2020, compared to 2008, to refer only to “conventional” consumption, writes AGEB.
Also read the CLEW article German carbon emissions rise in 2016 despite coal use drop.
The large-scale cultivation of energy crops has been a political “mistake” and “in part a wrong track of the Energiewende”, Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks said in Handelsblatt. She calls for a reduction of the production of plants used for biofuels, currently occupying more than 17 percent of German farmland, in order to ensure a better conservation of species, Handelsblatt writes. New biofuel installations would only receive support “if they use residual materials”, Hendricks added.
Read the article in German here.
For more information, see the CLEW dossier Bioenergy in Germany.
Germany’s governing coalition of Social Democrats (SPD) and Conservatives (CDU / CSU), together with the Green Party, will introduce a bill in parliament next week that starts the search for a final repository for the country’s nuclear waste from scratch, Thorsten Knuf writes in Frankfurter Rundschau. Agreeing on a “white map” that allows every part of the country to be included in the search has been hard since the federal states of Bavaria and Saxony tried to exclude themselves as potential repository locations, Knuf explains. With the states’ resistance now being overcome, the search will be brought to a restart and could be finished by 2031, he writes.
For background, see the CLEW factsheet What to do with the nuclear waste – the storage question.
Political stalemate has caused the turnover of Germany’s domestic oil and gas industry to shrink considerably, Franz Hubik writes in Handelsblatt. Revenues in the industry fell to 1.8 billion euros in 2016 – a year-on-year drop of almost 40 percent – because of sluggish licensing of new drilling projects and low fuel prices, Hubik explains. But a new legislative framework sparks fresh hope in the industry despite tighter environmental standards and a fracking ban, he adds. “We’ll now tackle the projects we’ve been placing on hold,” Florian Barsch, German branch CEO of oil and gas corporation ExxonMobil, told Handelsblatt. While Germany imports most of the fossil fuels it consumes, eight percent of the natural gas supply and two percent of the oil supply are covered by domestic sources, according to Hubik.
Read the article in German here.
For background, see the CLEW factsheets Germany’s dependence on imported fossil fuels and Germany’s energy consumption and power mix in charts.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung / Reuters
Impending driving bans for diesel cars in several German cities could spell the end for the technology in the country, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reports. Driving bans in Stuttgart and Munich have been substantiated in the past weeks and pending action in many other cities already alienated many customers from diesel engines, FAZ reports. The share of diesel models in new car sales in Germany fell 11 percent in February, four times as much as the total decrease in new car sales, writes news agency Reuters in a separate article. Diesel engines emit less CO2 than petrol engines but their higher emission of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and the resulting effect on particulate matter pollution levels is what pushes diesel out of the cities, FAZ explains.
Read the Reuters article in English here.
For background, see the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.
German Energy Agency
Using power storages and other technologies to relieve the electricity grid can significantly lower the cost of the energy transition and avoid grid expansion, writes German Energy Agency (dena) in a new study. “We need a bridge between the market and the power grid. A big, new playing field for innovative products can develop this way,” said dena head Andreas Kuhlmann in a press release. The study examines how the use of flexibility technologies such as storages, load management or power-to-heat could be optimised by applying them to multiple purposes.
Also read the CLEW dossier New technologies for the Energiewende.
Supporting the business of budget airlines through tax exemptions or low landing fees hinders the transition towards a decarbonised transport, writes Frank-Thomas Wenzel in an opinion piece in Frankfurter Rundschau. “If we want a resolute climate protection, we have to make flying as exclusive as it once was,” writes Wenzel. Ryanair had announced that it plans to expand its new base at Frankfurt airport.
Also read the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector.
Gazprom / Financial Times
Russian and German energy companies Gazprom and Uniper confirmed their intention to bring the contentious offshore gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 into operation on schedule, Gazprom said in a press release. In a separate article, Financial Times (FT) reported that the company would reveal a financing package by the end of March. After pressure from Poland’s anti-monopoly watchdog, a consortium of energy companies including Uniper had decided to withdraw from a joint venture to pay for the pipeline in August 2016. European companies were still preparing to find a way to contribute to the pipeline’s construction, writes FT, citing Gazprom sources.