A VW diesel surprise / Offshore power year round
Diesel cars should lose their privileged tax treatment in Germany to release funds for the development of more environmentally friendly engine technologies, VW CEO Matthias Müller said in an interview with Handelsblatt. Müller said investing in other engine types was a more “reasonable” approach than upholding the tax break for diesel cars, which amount to about eight billion euros per year, according to the newspaper. “I’m now convinced that we should question the diesel support’s usefulness. If the shift to more environmentally friendly e-cars is to be successful, the combustion engine diesel cannot be supported forever,” Müller argued, adding that diesel tax breaks should be gradually phased out. Diesel fuel in Germany is taxed at about 47 cents per litre, while petrol is taxed at about 65.5 cents.
Read the interview in German here (behind paywall).
VW head Michael Müller has caused a stir among industry representatives by saying diesel cars should lose their tax privilege in Germany, Martin Murphy writes in Handelsblatt. “Why does he let this genie out of its bottle?” a manager of a German VW competitor said, Murphy writes. The CEO of Germany’s largest carmaker is the first of the industry’s top managers to openly call the tax breaks for diesel cars into question. “He will be aware of the consequences,” Murphy writes, arguing that an end to the diesel tax privileges will lead to a further decline in diesel sales. The share of diesel cars has plummeted in recent months, not least because car buyers fear that a looming driving ban for the vehicles could mean they are no longer allowed to enter many German cities as early as 2018, Murphy writes. Managers of VW competitors Daimler and BMW have repeatedly stated they consider diesel engines to be part of their future strategy as they are less CO2-intense than petrol engines.
Read the article in German here (behind paywall).
dpa / Foundation Offshore Wind Energy / Fraunhofer IWES
Offshore wind farms produce electricity more reliably than previously thought, a study by research institute Fraunhofer IWES has shown. Wind turbines in the German North- and Baltic Sea produce power on 363 days a year, while older data from 2013 had seen generation on 340 days. Germany has a capacity of five gigawatts of offshore wind power installed. Industry organisation Foundation Offshore Wind Energy says that the new figures show how offshore wind power can provide electricity in a more constant and predictable way, compared to onshore wind and solar power.
Urgewald et al.
Many banks and large investors – even those who have publicly committed themselves to divest from CO2 intensive businesses and are members of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) – are still supporting new coal plants around the world, two studies by a group of environmental NGO’s show. Germany is number ten in the list of institutional investors holding over 1 billion US dollars in shares and bonds of coal plant developers (2% of total institutional investments; the US account for 37%, UK for 5%). German insurance company Allianz is among the 30 biggest investors in shares of coal companies.
Clean Energy Wire
Germany should aim to achieve its 2020 emissions reduction goals at some point in the 2020s instead of “new year’s eve 2020”, Michael Vassiliadis, head of mining labour union IG BCE, has said at a union conference in Berlin. “It’s not a sin to stretch the 2020 goals,” Vassiliadis said, adding that it would be even more prudent to align Germany’s national CO2 reduction goals with the 2030 goal stipulated in the Paris Agreement. The labour union leader said Germany was probably going to reduce its emissions by 34-35 percent by the end of 2020 compared to 1990 levels, falling short of the reduction goal of 40 percent. But he added that: “no other country has achieved as much”. Clinging to a fixed date for emissions reduction would lead to “ruptures in the economic structure”, he argued, saying that the emissions reduction achieved so far had only been possible at the expense of de-industrialising eastern Germany. The mining industry lobbyist said there was “no doubt” that the Paris Agreement’s goals had to be “addressed” and that the coal mining industry in the long run “naturally” had to face profound changes, but “realism” about the costs and deadlines was often absent with policymakers.
The German coal industry would remain important for the energy sector as long as there was not a way to store renewable energy at an “industrial scale”, Albrecht Gerber (SPD), energy and economy minister in the German state of Brandenburg told Der Tagesspiegel in an interview. Brandenburg, home of lignite mining region Lusatia, has initiated an adjustment of its CO2 reduction targets because of changed circumstances, Gerber said. The former estimates had been made under the assumption that nuclear power plants would run longer, that carbon capture and storage (CCS) would be used and that there would be a federal support programme for building insulation, he said.
dpa / Handelsblatt Global Edition
German car maker BMW has rebutted accusations by environmental organisation Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) that it manipulated diesel cars to have lower emissions under lab test conditions than in real life use. Klaus Fröhlich, Member of the Board of Management of BMW, said that DUH possibly tested the car while driving unusually fast in a very low gear, a situation when the exhaust-gas recirculation automatically turns off to protect the engine, thereby increasing emissions. BMW now wants to test the car again itself – as will the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA), Markus Fasse writes.
European Commission / Energy ministry Brandenburg
The European Commission is launching a Platform on Coal Regions in Transition to “help regions with coal mining activities identify, develop and implement projects with the potential to kick-start a viable economic and technological transformation”. There are 42 regions in 11 member states who are effected by structural change in coal mining, the energy ministry of the German state of Brandenburg, home of the Lusatia coal mining region, writes. Representatives from these regions will meet in Brussels today (11 December) to discuss the configurations of the social and economic change ahead. Brandenburg’s energy minister Albrecht Gerber said he expected the EU to help both financially and with man-power to execute the necessary projects and support programmes in Lusatia.
Read the press release in German here.