25 Jan 2017, 00:00
Sören Amelang Ellen Thalman Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Zypries to follow Gabriel as economy minister / New election drive?


Social Democrat (SPD) and former federal Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries was chosen by her party’s leadership to replace Sigmar Gabriel as economy and energy minister, writes Reuters. Zypries is currently Parliamentary State Secretary in Gabriel’s ministry, responsible for digital policy, foreign trade, start-ups and industrial policy. Gabriel had announced that he would not run for Chancellor in this year’s federal election and become Germany’s foreign minister, opening up his current office for Zypries.

Read the article in English here.

For background read the CLEW article German energy minister to change office, takes stock of policies.

The Clean Energy Wire will publish an article on this topic later today.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Sigmar Gabriel’s aim to create a good reputation for his party in the fields of economy and energy as Germany’s federal minister has failed, writes Heike Göbel in an opinion piece for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “He didn’t really show any deep understanding of the requirements of a competitive economy, even though the necessary corrections for the Energiewende had offered him many opportunities. That he is now switching his office for the foreign ministry shows a lack of interest,” writes Göbel.

Read the opinion piece in German here.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Martin Schulz, the designated federal elections frontrunner of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), could provide new drive to his party but has little chance of winning against Chancellor Angela Merkel, writes Nico Fried in an opinion piece in Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Martin Schulz is liked within the SPD, because he appears authentic. […][He] can attack Angela Merkel more openly because he is not part of the grand government coalition. He can provide renewed self-confidence to Social Democrats if he succeeds to channel the passion that distinguished him as a European to his party,” writes Fried.

Read the opinion piece in German here.

Clean Energy Wire

Germany’s energy transition is no longer a political project that can be steered by the government as independent customers have started pushing ahead with the project themselves, E.ON’s CEO Johannes Teyssen said at a conference in Berlin. “The times of paternalistic energy and climate policy are over,” Teyssen said at business daily Handelsblatt’s annual energy industry conference. Digitalisation and technological progress in the energy industry allowed customers to organise their power supply individually and become independent of political or corporate control. The future of energy would “no longer be made in party headquarters, ministries, government agencies” or company headquarters, Teyssen explained.
The German government could not induce more energy transition any longer, nor was US President Donald Trump’s administration able to derail it, he added. Customers were going to decide how they want to balance low power prices and climate protection and all companies and politicians could do was to provide counsel. “Affordable and decentralised storages can change energy structures of the future more than the most ambitious resolutions at climate conferences,” Teyssen said. A key policy guideline for advancing climate protection would be a uniform CO2-price tag as “no other measure” could achieve a greater emissions reduction at lower costs in the power sector, he added.
William M. Colton, vice president of US oil and gas corporation Exxon Mobil, said at the same conference that Germany’s Energiewende was an example of a top-down approach for climate protection that had caused power costs to rise. The US, on the other hand, had achieved an even greater emissions reduction at lower costs by an energy “renaissance” based on natural gas that had been achieved by the innovation capacity of freely operating companies. An “aggressive” approach to climate protection prevalent in many European countries could hamper the long-term growth prospects of the region, Colton warned.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

The Green Party has criticised the Bavarian environment ministry for giving the go-ahead to tear down a nuclear power plant. The Isar I plant is to be demolished despite around 300 tonnes of radioactive material which cannot be removed for storage until 2020 still sitting in a holding basin. “Starting to dismantle the plant before clearing away the holding basin is highly risky,” said Greens politician Rosi Steinberger. Preußen-Elektra, which owns the plant, insists its main priority is “the security of workers, community members and the surrounding area”.

Read the article in German here.


The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) hopes to engage developing countries in mobilising green finance projects with a new investment platform, according to NAMA News. Around 25 countries involved in the “dialogue” platform, GreenInvest, met in Singapore on 9 and 10 January, the UN-sponsored website said. The UN Environment Programme is developing and managing the site, which came out of an initiative started under Mexico’s G20 presidency in 2012. The three themes of focus are: “Greening foreign direct investment (FDI); the role of financial technology (‘fintech’) in advancing green finance; and enabling developing countries to effectively participate in international cooperation to accelerate green finance,” according to NAMA News.

Read the article in English here.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Climate change is a threat to financial markets not just because of potential natural disasters, but also due to a tightening of climate protection measures, writes Michael Bauchmüller in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, citing a report prepared for the German Finance Ministry. But a ministry spokesman said there was no “immediate need for regulatory measures”, according to the newspaper. The report warned there could be “considerable losses” due to “transition risks”, Bauchmüller says. “Therefore, an orderly transition to a carbon-reduced economy with clear, long-term signals from policymakers from the point of view of the financial market stability is desirable,” the report, prepared by Swiss investment group “South Pole Group” states, according to the newspaper.

Read the article in German here.

Center of Automotive Management (CAM) / Spiegel Online

The global market for e-mobility is being pulled by China, where half a million e-vehicles and plug-in hybrids were sold last year, according to an analysis by the Center of Automotive Management (CAM). This is in contrast to Germany, where only around 25,000 were sold. The e-car market share was 1.8 percent in China, 0.75 percent in Germany, 1.4 percent in France und UK, 0.9 percent in the US and 29 percent in Norway, according to a Spiegel Online report on the study. CAM head Stefan Bratzel said last year marked the “mental tipping point for e-mobility”.

Read the article in German here and a short CAM press release on the study here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.

dpa /

Catenary trucks will be tested on two sections of German motorway at the end of next year at the latest, according to a news report by press agency dpa carried on The test tracks will be twelve kilometres each, and will receive funding from the environment ministry (BMUB), the report said.
It is so far unclear which technology will be used to transport goods without causing CO2 emissions in the future. In contrast to cars, batteries can’t be used to power lorries over long distances because they would be far too heavy.

Read the article in German here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Eighty-six companies and business associations from Germany’s North, East, and South have complained to Chancellor Angela Merkel about “unfair” grid fees, reports Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. They argue in a letter that grid fees must be the same all over the country, instead of being higher in regions with strong renewable production. The government cabinet was set to approve a new law on grid fees on Wednesday.

Read the report in German here.

Find background in the CLEW factsheet Power grid fees - Unfair and opaque?


German energy company innogy will continue with plans to enter the U.S. onshore wind market, despite worries over future support of renewables in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency, reports Reuters. "We are not in waiting mode in the United States. […] We do it because wind is a competitive technology in the United States," the company’s CEO Peter Terium said at business daily Handelsblatt’s annual energy industry conference in Berlin.

Read the article in English here.

Sandbag / Agora Energiewende

Due to a huge switch from coal to gas power generation, EU power emissions fell 4.5 percent last year, according to an analysis by energy think tanks Sandbag and Agora Energiewende*. “Year-on-year, coal generation across Europe fell by 12 percent, whilst gas increased by 20 percent,” according to a Sandbag press release. Renewables’ share increased only slightly to 29.6 percent from 29.2 percent last year. The outlook for a continuous shift from coal to gas is dim, “because there are very few coal plant closures announced to 2020, the gas price has risen back above the price of coal, and the proposed reforms for the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) are unlikely to significantly raise the carbon price,” states an Agora press release.

Find the Sandbag press release and the study in English here and the Agora press release in English here.

For a comparison with German power trends, read the CLEW article Little headway in 2016 for Germany’s energy transition - think tank.

*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
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