15 May 2018, 00:00
Benjamin Wehrmann

Stagnant building efficiency/ Govt's economic advisor for carbon price

German Energy Agency

The energy consumption level of buildings in Germany was stagnant between 2010 and 2016, a report prepared by the German Energy Agency (dena) reveals. The trend of improving energy efficiency, which saw energy consumption drop by 20 percent between 2002 and 2010, “seems to be over,” the dena says in a press release. “The current efforts in the area of energy efficiency are not enough to meet the climate targets and the associated reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector,” dena head Andreas Kuhlmann explains. Heating and power consumption in buildings accounts for more than one third of Germany’s total energy demand, which is why more efficient use of energy in the sector could contribute substantially to achieving the country’s emissions reduction goals, the agency says.

Find the press release in German here.


Die Welt

The head of the German Council of Economic Experts (Wirtschaftsweise), Christoph M. Schmidt, says the country must replace its “economically inefficient” support programmes for renewable energy sources with a uniform price on greenhouse gas emissions. In a guest article published by the newspaper Die Welt, Schmidt writes that such a price on CO2 is “the most reasonable thing from an economic perspective” that is currently being talked about in climate action. The German energy transition’s “construction fault” is that everything is focused on ramping up renewable energy capacity without properly thinking through their costs and integration in the energy system. The support system of Germany’s Renewable Energy Act (EEG) was aimed at reducing emissions, while at the same time bolstering a national renewable energy industry, but it is “inappropriate” for continuing the Energiewende, Schmidt argues, adding that a carbon price in every sector would “end the cacophony of aims” and reduce emissions where it costs the least.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW Schmidt interview Time to advance Energiewende by cutting power costs - top economist and the article German environment minister open to national carbon price for background. 

Top Agrar

Many of Germany’s 28,000-odd onshore wind turbines will soon meet the end of their guaranteed 20-year feed-in tariff lifespan, meaning that the country can expect “a decommissioning wave” in the sector, Hinrich Neumann writes for Top Agrar. The Institute for Integrated Production Hannover estimates that about 2.4 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity will lose eligibility for guaranteed payments annually, and a retrofitting of older turbines with newer models is not always possible, Neumann says. In 2020 alone, about 4,500 turbines could be retired because their operation will no longer be economically viable, Neumann explains, adding that better technologies for recycling turbines and their components are needed to ensure the sustainability of wind power generation.

Read the article in German here.  

See the CLEW factsheet German onshore wind power for more information.

Die Welt

The German economy and energy minister, Peter Altmaier, has called on Russia’s government to guarantee the continued transmission of natural gas via Ukraine’s territory after the completion of the planned Nord Stream 2 offshore pipeline through the Baltic Sea, Nikolaus Doll and Daniel Wetzel write in Die Welt. During a visit to Ukraine’s capital Kiev, Altmaier said the country’s “legitimate interests” had to be taken into account in the controversial pipeline project that directly connects Germany with Russia and is scheduled for opening in 2019. Ahead of a subsequent visit to Moscow, the German minister said Germany has a “responsibility” for Ukraine, which collects about two billion dollars annually in gas transit fees, the article says.

Read the article in German here.

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

German utility EnBW has increased its profits by one third in the first quarter 2018 compared to the same period last year, the company said in a press release. EnBW made 687 million euros in profits between January and March, with all business segments increasing their earnings compared to the year before, CFO Thomas Kusterer said. However, earnings per share declined sharply, by nearly two thirds. Profits in EnBW’s renewable energy business grew by over 20 percent to 95 million euros thanks to a large number of onshore wind power turbines going online and the high productivity of EnBW’s hydropower plants.

See the press release in English here.

Find background in the dossier Utilities and the energy transition.

German Council for Sustainable Development

A more efficient use of smartphones, computers, televisions, or other electronic appliances could reduce the power consumption of these devices by more than three quarters, the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) says in a press release. Households’ power consumption contributes about one quarter of Germany’s total emissions, the RNE says, which is why a more efficient use of common electronic devices could have a substantial impact on emissions. The council, which acts as a government advisor, says that many such devices are pre-set to provide “maximum convenience and permanent availability” to the detriment of energy saving and sustainability, which could be changed in a few simple steps. According to the council, about 22 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy go to waste in Germany every year due to the standby mode of devices, costing households four billion euros.

Find the press release in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet What German households pay for power for background.

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