25 Jun 2018, 01:54 pm | Luke Sherman, Benjamin Wehrmann, Julian Wettengel

Stakeholders weigh in ahead of coal commission's first session

Rheinische Post

RWE head Schmitz says German coal exit by 2030 is impossible

Germany will not be able to phase out coal-fired power production by 2030, said Rolf Martin Schmitz, head of RWE, the country’s biggest power producer and Europe’s biggest private emitter of CO2. In an interview with the Rheinische Post on the eve of the first meeting of Germany’s coal exit commission, Schmitz said, “Political gestures don’t produce electricity.” He argued that the speed of Germany’s power grid expansion and the growing share of renewables will determine when the last coal plant is taken offline. Existing coal plants should be considered a “bridge technology” and if policymakers wanted to “prematurely” end the use of coal, “they will have to put a price tag on that, which says how many jobs will be lost, by how much the power price will rise, and that companies might leave the country because supply security becomes more difficult.”

Read the interview in German here.

For background, see the factsheet Germany’s coal exit commission and the article Germany starts coal exit talks in bid to improve patchy climate record.

 

Die Welt

In German coal-producing areas, Gigafactories could provide new source of employment

The federal government wants to soften the blow of phasing out coal by investing in large battery factories, or Gigafactories, according to an article in Die Welt. In coal-mining areas around the country, these manufacturing facilities could provide a new source of employment to affected workers. The German car industry and battery manufacturers have yet to invest seriously in such factories because of a high degree of risk, leading the federal government to consider filling this investment gap. Coal-fired power generation and mining employs over 25,000 people in Germany and tens of thousands jobs more indirectly depend on coal.  For Germany to meet it climate goals, experts believe it will have to invest substantially in energy-storing technologies.

Read the article in German here.

For background, see the factsheet Germany’s coal exit commission and the dossier New technologies for the Energiewende.

 

Green Budget Germany / Greenpeace Energy

Exiting lignite will save Germany up to 28 billion euros per year – study

Germany can save nearly 28 billion euros a year if it stops mining and using lignite, a study by Green Budget Germany (FÖS) commissioned by green power provider Greenpeace Energy has found. Apart from the costs of energy generation with lignite, which is also called brown coal, the study also includes the costs from detrimental climate and public health effects that result from burning the carbon-intensive fossil power source. At over 23 billion euros annually, these costs made up the bulk of total lignite costs, the researchers found. “The study debunks the myth that lignite is a cheap power source and shows that it actually is one of the most expensive forms of power production there is,” said Greenpeace Energy’s Janne Andresen. Exiting coal therefore not only was necessary to protect the climate but also an economic imperative, Andresen said.

Find the study in German here.

For background, see the factsheet Germany’s coal exit commission and the article Germany starts coal exit talks in bid to improve patchy climate record.

 

Handelsblatt

Coal exit commission should avoid “quick and symbolic” exit scenarios – BDI president

The commission tasked with Germany’s coal phase-out should avoid coming up with “quick and symbolic” scenarios to end the use of the fossil power source in the country, Dieter Kempf, president of the influential industry association BDI said in a guest commentary for Handelsblatt. The commission should not just administer the exit, but rather also “the entry into a sustainable agenda of modernisation,” he said. Kempf said climate policy is “a marathon, not a sprint” and Germany must find the appropriate pace for phasing out coal to avoid high costs and uncertain supply security. The industry lobbyist insisted that the BDI supports climate action in principle, as proven by its own study on reaching Germany’s climate goals. “It’s about finding the right balance between ecologic necessities and economic prudence,” Kempf said.

Find the article in German here (paywall).

For background, see the factsheet Germany’s coal exit commission and the article Germany starts coal exit talks in bid to improve patchy climate record.

 

tageszeitung (taz)

Scepticism over achieving climate goals casts shadow over coal commission’s first meeting

As Germany’s coal commission prepares to convene for the first time on Tuesday, environmental groups are criticising the government’s slow action on combatting climate change, writes Malte Kreutzfeldt in the taz. Organised by environmental groups like Greenpeace and BUND, over a thousand climate activists demonstrated in Berlin on Sunday, two days before the first meeting of the coal-exit commission.  The activists want a coal-exit date of 2030 at the latest. “It is high time for us to exit coal,” said Martin Kaiser from Greenpeace. Martin Wolf, president and CEO of German electric utility RWE, warned that a coal phase-out by the end of next decade is not possible, however. “Whoever wants to exit coal too quickly will have to pay more for it,” he said. Economy minister Peter Altmaier agrees that Germany will not be able to cease using the fuel by 2030, but environmental groups remain unconvinced.

Read the article in German here.

For background, see the factsheet Germany’s coal exit commission and the article Germany starts coal exit talks in bid to improve patchy climate record.

 

Welt am Sonntag

Germany lags on energy efficiency

As the European Union sets itself more ambitious energy efficiency goals for 2030, Germany will miss its 2020 targets, writes Steven Hanke in Welt am Sonntag. “We will not reach the efficiency targets we have set ourselves for 2020 in this way,” said Ulrich Benterbusch, department head in the economy ministry. Economy and population growth, low wholesale prices for fossil energies and lagging energy-efficient modernisation of buildings are the main reasons, writes Hanke.

For background, read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and efficiency and the article Govt energy transition commission calls for CO2 price, mobility action.

 

Handelsblatt

Greens want to re-introduce nuclear fuel tax

The Greens parliamentary group wants to re-introduce the nuclear fuel tax and use it to pay the compensation to nuclear power plant operators for losses after the government pulled forward its nuclear power exit in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear incident, writes Klaus Stratmann in Handelsblatt. The parliament is currently debating the law reform that would regulate the compensation payments, and the Greens want to change Germany’s constitution, or basic law, to enable the re-introduction of the fuel tax law. In 2017, the Federal Constitutional Court had declared the nuclear fuel tax law invalid and incompatible with basic law.

Read the article (behind paywall) in German here.

For background read the CLEW dossier The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out.

 

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