Clean Energy Wire / WDR
The former German capital Bonn could become the venue for the next UN climate summit COP25, after the government of Chile has said it has to cancel the event originally planned in its capital Santiago in December due to persisting violent unrest in the South American country. "In 2017, we hosted COP23 in Bonn. As the state government, we'd like to help make COP25 happen," a spokesperson of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where Bonn is located, told the public broadcaster WDR. Being the seat of the UN climate change secretariat UNFCCC, Bonn is the climate summit's default venue if no other host can be found. UNFCCC executive secretary Patricia Espinosa confirmed that the organisation is looking for an alternative location. Jochen Flasbarth, state secretary in Germany's environment ministry (BMU), said on Twitter that organising the conference would be a logistical challenge for Bonn. "It's also not desirable to hold it [the climate summit] in the global North more often," he added.
The COP (conference of the parties) is the UN's most important forum to discuss international action against climate change and draws tens of thousands of participants. In 2017, Bonn hosted the event on behalf of the government of the small Pacific island state of Fiji, which although holding the COP presidency could not act as a host due to logistical difficulties. At this year's conference, the parties want to resolve open questions regarding the Paris Climate Agreement.
Reuters / Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung / Tagesspiegel
UPDATE - Former member of coal commission tells Tagesspiegel announcement could be "bluff"
German utility Uniper has been given the green light to start commercial operations at its new 1.5-billion-euro Datteln 4 coal-fired power plant despite recommendations to not link it to the grid, government and industry sources told Reuters Newswire. Talks about compensation payments keeping it offline are no longer being pursued because the modern plant would have relatively low CO2 emissions and it would make more sense to switch off older units first instead of paying millions of euros in compensation, a government source told Reuters journalist Markus Wacket. The Datteln 4 plant with a capacity of 1,100 megawatts (MW) is Germany's largest hard coal plant. It is scheduled to be operational by mid-2020, according to the article. Germany's coal exit commission recommended earlier this year not to start up the Datteln 4 plant, and to compensate Uniper. Germany aims to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2038 at the very latest.
But an unnamed member of the coal commission told energy policy newsletter Tagesspiegel Background the announcement could be a "bluff" by Uniper in order to push up compensation payments, and by the ministry for economics and energy to push for lower payments. Uniper suggested during the coal exit negotiations earlier this year that it was not particularly interested in getting the plant online given satisfactory compensation, the source said.
In a commentary in the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Helmut Bünder called the coal commission's advice "paradoxical from an economic and an environmental viewpoint" as it would be "absurd not to use the cleanest among the dirtiest plants in the transition period until 2038 while continuing to operate notorious old polluters."
Construction of Datteln 4 began in 2007, and the unit was originally scheduled to be operational in 2011. But the project was plagued by delays. Media commentators called it "a symbol of arrogance with which the established energy industry has ignored the boom of renewable energies for way too long."
Clean Energy Wire
A stable majority of people in Germany support the continued rollout of wind power in the country, according to a survey conducted by pollster forsa and commissioned by the agency for onshore wind power (Fachagentur Windenergie an Land). Eighty-two percent of respondents said the rollout and use of onshore wind power as part of the country's energy transition was very important or quite important. This level of agreement has remained broadly unchanged since 2015. Roughly half of respondents said they already lived near wind turbines. Of those, a large majority (78%) said they approved of the installations. Of those people who did not already have the technology in their vicinity, 70 percent said they would have "no" or "less serious" concerns about the construction of turbines.
Onshore wind power is a key element of Germany's energy transition and a leading force in the country's renewables industry. But a lack of space, increasingly restrictive distance regulations between wind turbines and residential areas, as well as a string of lawsuits have brought the rollout almost to a standstill this year, pushing the sector into a crisis. To increase public acceptance, 82 percent of survey respondents said it is important to make sure that municipalities can use income from wind power to increase the local quality of life. Seventy-nine percent named cheaper electricity and 66 percent the integration of local actors in the project as likewise important factors to increase public acceptance.