Car giant Volkswagen has been fined one billion euros by German prosecutors over diesel emissions cheating, reports the BBC. The carmaker said it did not plan to appeal the fine, which is one of the highest ever imposed by German authorities on a company, according to the report. But BBC business correspondent Theo Leggett writes in a short analysis that “the fine pales into insignificance compared with the fines and compensation the group has had to pay out in the US - which add up to well over 20 billion euros. If this puts an end to criminal proceedings in Europe, VW may well think it's a relatively small price to pay.”
Read the report in German here.
For background, read the factsheet Dieselgate forces VW to embrace green mobility, and the dossier BMW, Daimler, and VW vow to fight in green transport revolution.
Federal Environment Ministry (BMU)
The German environment ministry (BMU) has launched an app that is meant to contribute to the climate friendly behaviour of football fans watching the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia on public screens, the ministry has said in a press release. The app shows the most environmentally friendly way to reach one of the nearly 500 public screening locations in the country, where football matches will be broadcast for large audiences free of charge. “The app is really easy to use, whether by pedestrians, bikers, or people using public transport. This app helps fans find the best places to watch the matches outdoors. At the same time, it also helps save CO2,” environment minister Svenja Schulze said.
Find the press release in German here.
Tagesspiegel Background Energie
German economy minister Peter Altmaier pays lip service to the consequences of climate change for “our children and grandchildren,” but his words are not matched by actions, writes Tagesspiegel Background Energie in its daily newsletter. Altmaier wants to postpone the special renewables auctions, and says he will only decide on a path to the 2030 renewables target of 65 percent once there is clarity on grid extensions. “You can’t avoid the impression that Altmaier delays the energy transition and sells this as realism,” the newsletter says.
Read the article German utilities urge govt to speed up Energiewende policy making for more of Altmaier's comments on the status of the Energiewende.
Siemens is considering the sale of its struggling business that produces gas turbines for power plants, according to people familiar with the matter, report Oliver Sachgau and Eyk Henning for Bloomberg. But a final decision has not yet been made, and the company could end up weathering a downturn and keeping the business that has suffered from a collapse in orders as the global energy industry shifts to renewable sources like wind and solar and away from large-scale power plants that run on fossil fuels, according to the report.
Read the report in English here.
Find plenty of background in the factsheet Germany’s Siemens: A case study in Energiewende industry upheaval.
Talks on renewable energy policy in Europe have achieved an unexpected breakthrough, as negotiators from the European Parliament and the EU member states were able to reach a compromise, report Dave Keating and Frédéric Simon for EURACTIV. The deal includes a legally binding EU-wide renewable energy target of 32 percent by 2030, with “an upward review clause by 2023 at the latest,” according to Claude Turmes, a Luxembourg MEP, who represented the Greens’ political group in the European Parliament’s team.
German economy minister Peter Altmaier rejected calls to increase the target to a 33-35 percent share by 2030 at the energy ministers’ meeting in Luxemburg, on 11 June. Addressing an event in Berlin on 13 June, he explained that increasing the target without a clear idea of how to achieve it would undermine the government’s political credibility.
Find the EURACTIV report in English here.
For Altmaier’s comments, read the article Clear steps must underpin EU renewables goal - German energy minister.
Consumer protection organisation North-Rhine Westphalia
German welfare recipients do not receive enough money from the government to pay for electricity, according to the consumer protection organisation Verbraucherzentrale North Rhine-Westphalia. The organisation’s "North Rhine-Westphalia fights energy poverty" project has found that the shortfall is higher than previously calculated. In the industrial state, single mothers would need about 50 euros more per month to pay their energy bills. “The poor don’t automatically need little electricity – quite the opposite,” project leader Stephanie Kosab explained. “They often consume quite a bit because they can’t replace their old, inefficient appliances.” At present, single German welfare recipients receive 416 euros per month, of which 35.05 euros are earmarked for electricity costs.
Read the press release in German here.
For background, see the factsheet What German households pay for power and the article Welfare groups urge power cost relief for German poor.
Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) / pv magazine
In Germany’s second solar auction of 2018, the average support rate for successful bidders rose slightly to 4.59 eurocents per kilowatt hour (ct/kWh), compared to 4.33 ct/kWh at the previous auction in February, according to the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) and a report by pv magazine. The agency awarded bids to 28 bidders with projects totalling 183 megawatts. A total of 59 bids with a volume of 360 megawatts were submitted to the agency.
Yale Environment 360
A move from feed-in tariffs to competitive auctions risks roiling the German renewable energy market, writes Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar in Yale Environment 360. In response to falling technology costs and high renewables surcharges paid by consumers, Germany has switched to holding competitive auctions for wind and solar projects from paying renewable energy producers rates fixed in advance. This move is likely to benefit larger producers and consolidate the industry to the detriment of citizen energy cooperatives, she writes.
Read the article in English here.
For background, see the factsheet Citizens’ participation in the Energiewendeand the article Auctions to set the price for wind and solar – the debate.
tagesschau.de / Federal Office for Information Security (BSI)
The Federal Offices for the Protection of the Constitution and for Information Security have warned energy companies of a wave of attacks launched by Russian hackers on electricity networks, tagesschau.de reports. According to German authorities, Russian hackers have partially succeeded in penetrating energy companies’ office networks. The federal offices would not say how many firms were affected, but the regional public broadcaster WDR reported that more than 100 were hacked. In the summer of 2017, the Federal Office for Information Security warned power producers and other companies of evidence of multiple hacker groups’ work to penetrate their networks. At present, there is no acute threat to the national energy supply system, according to the authorities.
Read the article in German here.
Find the BSI press release in German here.
For background, read the dossier Digitalisation ignites new phase in energy transition.
The government’s goal of increasing the share of renewables in Germany’s power mix from 50 percent to 65 percent by 2030 could substantially delay the point at which solar and wind power installations can become fully competitive, the consultancy Aurora Energy Research says in a report. The target “cannibalises market revenues of renewable plants”, as the rapid increase in the number of plants means that very productive locations become scarce quicker, resulting in a lower overall productivity, the report says. More renewable energy plants also mean that wholesale power prices become more dependent on weather conditions, which is why a carbon price floor and power purchase agreements with customers could be used to improve investment security for renewables.
Find the report in English here.
forsa / Zukunft Erdgas
The number of people in Germany who think that affordable power is a "very important" feature of the country’s energy system is considerably larger than that of those who consider sustainable power production a priority, a survey conducted by the pollster forsa and commissioned by the natural gas lobby group Zukunft ERDGAS reveals. According to the survey, conducted in May 2018, 67 percent of respondents said that affordable power is very important to them; 59 percent said supply security is a priority; and 46 percent said producing energy without harming the environment is very important. However, the share of people saying that cheap power is very important has declined from 76 percent in 2014 to 62 percent in 2017, only to slightly climb back up one year later. The share of people who consider environmental protection very important increased from 43 percent in 2014.
Find the press release in German here.
Clean Energy Wire
Germany’s new commission to define a path and an end-date for an exit from coal-fired power generation should also help close the gap in emission reductions to reach the country’s 2020 climate goal, environment minister Svenja Schulze told the utility association BDEW’s annual conference in Berlin. The Social Democrat warned that without further action the gap could actually be even larger than the 8 percentage points in the government’s recent climate protection report. If the economy continues booming and the transport sector keeps failing to reduce emissions at all, the country may achieve even less than the 32 percent greenhouse gas reduction compared to 1990 levels, she said.
However, Schulze stressed that the 2020 goal of 40 percent reduction was not the main focus of the commission. The “historic” process of defining an exit path and an end-date in an economically and socially acceptable way was aiming to meet the 2030 goals. Schulze also pointed out that more climate action was needed in the sectors like transport and buildings that are not part of the European emission trading system, because Germany would have to buy emission rights if it failed to meet the binding EU 2020 targets. However, Schulze rejected driving bans in cities or general speed limits as a solution to environmental problems, calling on the German car industry to finally produce the cleaner cars people want. Limits to entering cities with a car like in other European countries cannot be the “German way”, she said.
Schulze reiterated her support for a carbon price, though she added that such a change in the system of taxes and fees had to be well-prepared in order to avoid unwanted social consequences. The CEO of utility E.ON, Johannes Teyssen, warned against burdening the coal commission with too much short-term expectations and called for a long-term solution in the form of a carbon price.