Taking stock of the Energiewende / Resistance to smart meters
Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)
Balance Sheet of Energiewende
Germany has published an assessment of its national climate protection efforts. The government says Germany is making “good progress” with its energy transition and lays out plans for how the country can achieve a climate neutral building stock by 2050. But an independent expert commission says the CO2 reduction target for 2020 is "seriously endangered".
Please note: CLEW will publish an article summarising key points of the reports this afternoon.
See a press release by the energy ministry with links to the Energiewende monitoring, as well as the reports about renewable heating and building efficiency here.
Find the expert commission's assessment in German here.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
“The energy revolution on the family home”
An increasing number of private households are trying to use their own roof-mounted solar power, rather than feeding it into the grid, reports Henning Peitsmeier in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Companies like Sonnenbatterie in southern Germany produce the necessary batteries, and the founders are certain technological progress in this area will ignite an energy revolution, further undermining the business model of utilities that produce conventional power. They believe private batteries in cellars around the country can be linked to form a virtual power station. Sonnenbatterie’s home village of Wildpoldsried sometimes produces five times as much electricity as it consumes, because half the inhabitants produce their own electricity, reports Peitsmeier.
“Old coal-fired power plants block EU climate and energy goals – retirement is the only solution”
Old coal-fired power plants are an obstacle to climate protection as well as an affordable and secure power supply in Europe in the long term, according to a strategy paper by think tank Agora Energiewende* and the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP). “The planned reform of the European Union’s power market regulation will not change that," they write. This is why the EU should develop a strategy for a socially compatible shutdown of those plants, which would make the agreed expansion of renewable energies in Europe easier and cheaper, according to a press release.
Find the press release and the strategy paper, both in English, here.
Consumer criticism of new “smart” metres, which will ultimately cut costs, is unwarranted, writes Timot Szent-Ivanyi in the Frankfurter Rundschau. While the metres are an important building block for the Energiewende, allowing the regulation of intelligent pricing systems that help balance supply and demand, they will also cut power costs, which is good for consumers, he says. One area that the government could pay more attention to is data privacy, however, he points out. Hackers, for example, could plan a break-in according to data they retrieve from such metres.
“ A horror story”
As long as power companies don’t offer cheaper prices for electricity at different times, consumers won’t benefit from installing intelligent smart metres, says Wolfgang Mulke in a commentary in the General Anzeiger. In the short term, their installation could cost consumers up to 100 euros, which the government doesn’t plan to reimburse, he writes. Any gains from saving power will come in the long term. Data privacy is also an issue, because companies will be able to see who is not at home or who is watching television, for example, he says, calling this a “horror story.”
“The big experiment”
The Energiewende in Germany is off to a good start, but nowhere near completion, as it still faces many challenges, write Klaus Stratmann and Jürgen Flauger in a policy overview in the Handelsblatt. The German government is trying to keep the market in equilibrium and make it a success by passing new laws and regulations every year, they write. Last year, this was the reform of the Renewable Energy Act, this year it is a market reform. At the same time, it must address the need for reserve capacity due to fluctuating power from renewables, they write. Describing the challenges, they note German power consumers are paying for the enormous costs of switching to renewable power, utilities have suffered from the drop in power prices from renewables and fluctuating power poses a problem for grid operators who need to keep supply and demand in balance. At the same time, network expansion is battered by citizens’ initiatives who don’t want big power lines in their back yards.
Country Factsheet Germany
As part of its assessment of the state of the energy union, the European Union has published a factsheet about Germany's energy market. According to the latest EU projections, "Germany is on track to reach its 2020 non-ETS greenhouse gas emissions target, with about 1 percentage point margin as compared to 2005." The municipal utilities association VKU said the EU needed to install a monitoring process to make sure countries are on track for the 2030 targets.
Read the EU factsheet on Germany in English here.
Find the CLEW dossier about the Energiewende in the European context here.
COP21 – Road to Paris
While politicians argue about climate protection, the market is making companies more important actors than nation states in the fight against global warming, argues Hans-Jürgen Jakobs in a commentary for business daily Handelsblatt. “Companies are betting increasingly on the yield of green investments and saying good-bye to fossil energies, because they fear consequential costs,” writes Jakobs. “In a nutshell: After they were ignored for years, ‘external costs’ are coming into the calculation.” Jakobs argues it is not a question of capitalism versus climate protection. To the contrary, it is market forces like the sharp drop in renewables prices and ‘green money’, looking far beyond the nearest election, that stir hope in the fight against global warming.
Find the article in German (behind paywall) here.
*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.