Carmaker VW will accept hardware retrofits for manipulated diesel cars that have lower exhaust levels on the test stand than on the road, Gerald Traufetter writes on Spiegel Online. According to the article, Germany’s largest carmaker is the first in the country to support hardware retrofits and is ready to pay for 80 percent of the costs for equipping manipulated cars with a nitrogen oxide (NOx) catalyser, which is estimated to cost 3,000 euros on average for each car. VW CEO Herbert Diess reportedly told transport minister Andreas Scheuer that the company is not ready to cover all costs for retrofitting or buy back manipulated cars from customers, but is ready for a “tailor-made” substitution of cars of the pollution categories Euro 4 and 5. Minister Scheuer is in talks with VW and other companies to come up with a comprehensive concept to avoid diesel driving bans in inner cities. The government’s plan on how to lower emissions from diesel cars is due to be presented on 1 October.
Find background in the article Germany launches task force to kickstart shift to sustainable mobility.
Clean Energy Wire
German chancellor Angela Merkel wants to make battery cell production a “strategic European development”, she said during a speech at an event on e-mobility in Berlin. “Someone like me, who once studied physics, is incredibly sad that we cannot produce battery cells in the country of the founding fathers of electrochemistry and that the whole of Europe cannot do that either.” In this regard, Europe is still dependent on other parts of the world. “I am not sure whether it’s a good idea to only be dependent on China or Asia,” she said and assured that Germany will be prepared to participate in a European alliance. Another concern about dependency regards the “entire digital infrastructure”, she said, according to the report: “Two of the key value-adding features of the future car are no longer in the sole hands of Germany. This means that there is currently no closed value chain.”
For background, read the CLEW article Chinese-German battery cell deal key step for mobility transition.
British oil company BP is disposing of oil production waste, which possibly contains elements harmful to humans, by delivering it to energy company E.ON for burning in a Gelsenkirchen coal plant, Jürgen Döschner and Jochen Taßler report for public broadcaster WDR. BP delivers up to 100 tonnes per day of the waste in compressed “oil pellets” to E.ON’s plant in the western German city of Gelsenkirchen, after obtaining a license from local authorities to trade their “product”, the article says. However, experts like environmental lawyer Martin Führ say this is wrong, as BP’s “product” has not been given a license in accordance with the European Chemicals Directive REACH. But the oil company and the local authorities insist the procedure is legal. The authors say BP founded a task force for “reducing pellet costs” several years ago and has achieved a “cost-neutral” way of disposing of the pellets that contain hazardous materials like nickel, vanadium and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).
Read the article in German here.
German police prepare the clearing of the last known tree-house holdout in the embattled Hambach Forest near Cologne to enable energy company RWE to continue expanding its nearby coal mine, the Rheinische Post reports. One activist was injured during a police intervention when she fell about six metres from a ladder of a tree house. The woman was brought to a hospital. Environmental NGO Greenpeace criticised the conservative state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, for not engaging in dialogue with protesters who say the old forest should not be cut down to make way for a power source the German coal exit commission is concurrently trying to phase-out. Mine owner RWE said its own employees, those of companies they work with, and local authorities have received threatening phone calls and e-mails, while leftist activist websites listed “attack targets,” such as companies and police stations involved.
Read the article in German here.
A quick end of coal-fired power production in Germany and a parallel expansion of wind and solar power capacities would reduce carbon emissions sufficiently to meet the 2020 and 2030 climate target in line with the Paris Agreement, a study by research institute Fraunhofer, commissioned by environmental organisation Greenpeace, says. “Only a coal exit will make Germany’s Energiewende a success for climate protection,” Greenpeace’s Anike Peters says. In the Fraunhofer scenario, the most polluting lignite plants with a capacity of 6.1 gigawatts (GW) would be shut down by 2020, while the remaining 7.4 GW older than 20 years would be throttled down before all lignite plants reduce their output by 2025. At the same time, solar and wind power capacities would be expanded across Europe and the price for CO2 emissions would climb to 40 euros per tonne. “Germany can have a secure power supply without coal by 2030,” says Fraunhofer researcher Norman Gerhardt. The study also says that the Hambach Forest would not have to be cleared to make way for coal mining if there were a rapid coal exit.
Find a press release and the study in German here.
Energy industry association VGB Power Tech says that the guaranteed capacity of German wind power is less than one percent of the 56 gigawatt (GW) of installed capacity in the country, Klaus Stratmann writes in the Handelsblatt. According to the association, production data from 2016 shows that while the nearly 30,000 wind turbines contribute a total share of nearly 19 percent to the German power mix, they do not provide a comparable amount at any given time. “The message behind this is clear: even if wind power is expanded quickly, there always needs to be backup-capacity,” Stratmann writes. VGB Power Tech says looking at wind power production patterns across Europe showed that phases of high and low output tend to occur in many countries at the same time, making clean power imports to Germany during times of little wind less feasible.
Read the article in German here.
See the CLEW dossier Onshore wind power in Germany and the factsheet How can Germany keep the lights on in a renewable energy future? for background.
German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)
The global transformation towards a decarbonised energy system has positive effects for human security, such as reducing the dependence on fossil resources supply chains, strengthening the access to energy as an economic factor, and thus increasing national and international security, writes the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in a paper. However, the energy transition also brings with it the risk of a concentration of technological leadership in certain regions, and an imbalance regarding global financing structures, write Andreas Goldthau, Martin Keim and Kirsten Westphal.
Find the paper in German here.
For background, read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and its implications for international security.
Clean Energy Wire
The Greens parliamentary group in the Bundestag has introduced a draft law that would make international climate goals and obligations, as well as the nuclear exit, binding under German Basic Law. In a plenary debate, Green group leader Anton Hofreiter said that the German government has committed to climate protection, but is the world leader in burning lignite and will miss its 2020 climate targets. “Anchoring climate protection in German Basic Law would lead to clarity and planning security” and help reach climate goals. Philipp Amthor of the conservative CDU/CSU parliamentary group called the draft law “purely symbolic policy” that would in reality not make a difference. German Basic Law already states that “the state is also responsible for protecting the natural foundations of life for future generations”, and the Paris Climate Agreement has already been incorporated into the country’s legal system. Nina Scheer of the Social Democrats said she is open to further discussing the question in committee, but warned that binding international agreements with German Basic Law could also have a negative effect, should the agreements themselves be weakened at some point. A two-thirds majority is necessary both in the Bundestag and the Bundesrat (council of federal state governments) to amend German Basic Law.
For background, read the CLEW dossier The energy transition and climate change and the factsheet From ideas to laws – how Energiewende policy is shaped.