09 Jun 2017, 00:00
Ellen Thalman Julian Wettengel

Winter 2017 tough on power grid -Amprion/ World climate leaders sought


The German power grid urgently needs to be expanded, as it was at times stretched to its limits during the past winter, said transmission grid operator Amprion in a press release. The reasons were unscheduled plant overhauls in France and historic lows in hydro power plants in Austria and Switzerland which led to “extremely high” needs to transport power in Amprion’s control area. Amprion says it is investing record sums into grid expansion: “In 2016, we invested more than ever before to advance the energy transition,” said Hans-Jürgen Brick, commercial managing director at Amprion. In 2016, the company invested 567 million euros, and plans to invest another 660 million euros this year.

Find the Amprion press release in German here.

For background read the CLEW factsheet Germany's electricity grid stable amid energy transition and the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s power grid.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Grid operator Amprion’s statement that Germany’s power grid was at its limits last winter shows that the energy transition is not on track, because supply security was endangered, writes Andreas Mihm in an opinion piece for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “The biggest bottleneck is the German power grid. Somehow, it worked out yet again. But waiting, worrying and hoping is not a suitable strategy for an industrial society that depends on electricity,” writes Mihm.

For background read the CLEW factsheet Germany's electricity grid stable amid energy transition and the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s power grid.

Frankfurter Rundschau

The refunds that nuclear utilities E.ON, RWE and EnBW can expect after Germany’s constitutional court ruled the nuclear fuel tax law unconstitutional should be used to lower electricity prices, according to the Consumer Organisation Baden-Wuerttemberg, reports Frankfurter Rundschau. “We assume that the expenses were fully passed on, so that the consumers already paid for them once. For this reason, tax payers now must not pay for them a second time in the form of refunds,” said Eckhard Brenner of the consumer organisation.

For background read the CLEW dossier The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

It will be difficult for other parties to beat German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the upcoming federal elections, because she regularly takes proposals and demands of others and makes them her own, historian Martin H. Geyer told the Süddeutsche Zeitung in an interview. The Green Party in particular suffers from this, as shown by the example of the country’s nuclear exit. “The chancellor has stolen the show from the Greens. They fight for topics – which at first are often unpopular – until they have a strong majority within the population, only to then be picked up by other parties. That’s the Green’s dilemma,” says Geyer.

Read the interview in German here.

For background read the CLEW dossier Vote2017 - German elections and the Energiewende.


The European Union, together with China, Canada “and other important partners” must take on a leadership role in international climate policy, after the US announced that it would pull out of the Paris Agreement, environment minister Barbara Hendricks told Dagmar Dehmer in an interview in Tagesspiegel. Hendricks said she has three wishes for the leaders’ communiqué of the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg: a clear commitment of the G20 to the Paris Agreement, a clear affirmation of the financial promises given by industrial nations and a clear commitment to implementing the individual national climate plans. This was not going to be easy for countries such as Saudi Arabia and Russia, said Hendricks.

For background, read the CLEW articles German reactions to US decision to withdraw from Paris Agreement and Germany, China urge US to remain in climate agreement.

German representatives used the first meeting by the German-Belgian nuclear commission “to convey the worries of the German population [about Belgian nuclear power stations Tihange 2 and Doel 3] and remind them of the request by environment minister Barbara Hendricks to [Belgian vice prime] minister [Jan] Jambon to shut down the reactors,” writes the environment ministry (BMUB) in a press release. Germany and Belgium last year signed an agreement on improving the exchange of information on nuclear security, which included the commission.

Read the press release in German here.

For background on the German nuclear exit, read the CLEW dossier The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out.

Die Welt/N24

The mining and lignite coal company Leag has said it wants to get into the battery storage business in 2018, a new business area for the company, according to an article on the website Die Welt/N24. The goal is to improve the network that manages supply and demand, and to become more flexible, the article quotes Chairman Helmar Rendez as saying.

Read the article in German here.

Read a CLEW dossier on how traditional energy companies are getting into new technologies for the Energiewende. 

Erneuerbare Energien

In a commentary in the online magazine, Erneuerbare Energien, Nicole Weinhold writes that despite the best quarter ever for German wind power producers, expansion in the coming years is likely to be curbed. Projects that were successful in Germany's first onshore wind auction might not be built for a couple of years, because operators wanted to benefit from falling prices for turbines. Weinhold calls for improvements in the current system of auctions for supported projects.

Read the article in German here.

Read about wind power auctions in the CLEW factsheet High hopes and concerns over onshore wind power auctions.

Read a CLEW factsheet about how to start a wind farm in Germany


Marc Etzold, Angela Hennersdorf, Andreas Macho and Cordula Tutt examine the political forces in Germany that favour US President Donald Trump’s attitude toward the Paris Agreement and find fault with Germany’s Energiewende – some openly, some less so, in an article in Wirtschaftswoche. From cars to coal and unions to lobby groups, the article examines the fight for and against decarbonisation that is playing out in Germany. 


German utility EnBW’s planned windpark in the North Sea reckons with rising electricity prices and cheaper technology for wind parks, but it is not clear whether these assumptions will hold true, according to an article by Angela Hennersdorf in German weekly Wirtschaftswoche. The company, which is majority held by the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, was the first company to win a bid to build an offshore wind park with no state support, writes Hennersdorf. Citing Tobias Voigt from the consultancy Carneades Project, Hennersdorf writes that the play is both clever and risky – one that could pay off, but could also lead to taxpayers footing the bill if it went awry.

For more background, read a CLEW article about the zero-support bid in the recent auction to build wind parks.  

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