VW faces legal test case / EU ETS reform proposal angers industry
Consumer association myRight has filed the first lawsuit in Germany aiming to force carmaker Volkswagen to repurchase vehicles affected by the emissions scandal, writes Andreas Cremer for Reuters. VW pledged to compensate owners of its cars in the US but “different legal rules weaken the chances of affected customers winning a pay out” in Europe, where VW simply removes illicit software and claims that the fixes do not lead to a loss of value, writes Cremer. myRight’s lawsuit is supposed to act as a model for future related cases, but does not have the legal effect of resolving all individual claims like a US class action, according to Cremer.
Read the article in English here.
Find background in the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.
Handelsblatt Global Edition
The EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) amendment proposal passed by the environmental committee in the European Parliament (EP) in December 2016 angers German industry, writes Klaus Stratmann for Handelsblatt Global Edition. “Even our most efficient industrial plant will have cost increases imposed. And that only helps non-European manufacturers with substantially inferior carbon-emissions performance,” Hans Jürgen Kerkhoff, president of the German Steel Federation (WV Stahl), told Handelsblatt. The EP committee wants to allocate more free CO2 certificates to energy intensive businesses than the EU Commission had proposed, but further reduce the total number of emission allowances. “It will mean industry increasingly shifts production to other areas of the world. The Chinese, Americans and Indians will be delighted. And the climate will not benefit in any way,” Michael Fuchs, the parliamentary vice-chairman of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) said.
Read the article (behind paywall) in English here.
For background read the CLEW factsheet Understanding the European Union’s Emissions Trading System.
Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA)
The popularity of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) continues to grow in Germany. New SUV registrations rose by a quarter last year, outpacing all other vehicle classes, according to the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA). But new cars’ average CO2 emissions fell to 127.4 g/km from 128.8 g/km in 2015. Of all newly registered cars, 52.1 percent used petrol and 45.9 percent diesel fuel. The share of vehicles with alternative propulsion systems was 2.0 percent – 47,996 hybrids (of which 13,744 were plug-ins) und 11,410 pure e-cars. Total new car registrations rose 4.5 percent to 3.35 million.
Find the press release in German here.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung / McKinsey
Almost half of car buyers in Germany – 44 percent - think about purchasing an electric vehicle, according to a survey by business consultancy McKinsey. But only three percent decided to buy such a vehicle. A quarter of those polled said the price of an e-car was too high. Almost a quarter said the cars’ range was too small, and a fifth said there were not enough charging stations, according to a report by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on the survey.
Find the McKinsey survey in English here.
Find more background in the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.
The transport ministry’s decision to allow super-long lorries onto German roads this year might save fuel but does not benefit the environment in the long term, writes Richard Rother in a commentary for left-wing daily taz.de. He argues the main advantage for logistics companies is that only two drivers are needed instead of three to do the same work. “By lowering personnel and other costs, transport by lorry becomes even more attractive, while rail freight transport is left behind […] it is wrong to privilege lorries at the expense of other modes of transport.”
Read the commentary in German here.
Find background in the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector.
Regional differences in grid fees increased the power price disparities between German federal states in 2016, according to comparison website Verivox. “[The Energiewende] not only has a direct impact on the power bill through the rising Renewable Energy Act (EEG) surcharge, but also through higher grid fees,” said Jan Lengerke, a member of the management at Verivox. Measures by grid operators to ensure the stability of a power grid coping with more volatile renewable power were growing more frequent, albeit with large regional differences. Consumers in rural areas with strong renewable development currently pay higher fees. This is the case mostly in eastern German states.
Read the press release in German here.
For more information on the Energiewende’s transmission infrastructure, read the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s power grid.
German utility innogy aims to bolster its position in photovoltaics and energy storage with the acquisition of the German solar and battery specialist BELECTRIC Solar & Battery GmbH. The transaction, announced in August 2016, has been completed, announced innogy in a press release. “Innogy is a pioneer and trailblazer for efficient, climate-friendly and intelligent energy solutions. However, we were still lagging behind in the field of utility-scale photovoltaic power plants. We’ve now closed this gap,” said innogy’s CEO Peter Terium. The purchase price was in a high double-digit million euro range.
Read the press release in English here.
Consumer organisations, social associations and local utilities cooperate to counteract energy poverty, writes Lukas Zdrzalek in Süddeutsche Zeitung. The electricity suppliers help finance so-called energy saving consultants, provided by the associations, which are sent to citizens that have issues paying their power bill. The consumers learn how to save energy, or plan their monthly budgets. “Local utilities help finance this work, because regularly-paid bills are in their interest,” writes Zdrzalek.
Read the article in German here.
Eastern German coal-fired power plants proved to be flexible in unstable weather conditions over the holidays, writes Simone Wendler in Lausitzer Rundschau. The plants had to quickly be powered down or restarted at times of volatile wind power feed-in before, during and after storms to stabilise the power grid. However, coal-fired power plants were “not flexible enough” to avoid the negative wholesale power prices that occurred over the holidays, according to Christoph Podewils of think tank Agora Energiewende.*
Read the article in German here.
For background read the CLEW factsheet Why power prices turn negative.
*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.