Groko: light and shade in energy policy

Groko: light and shade in energy policy

Westfalen power plant in hamm-uentrop. Image: jurgen liebich.0

The energy and climate newsreel: of new commissions, the tenuous life of coal-fired power plants, china’s transformation and the global growth of wind energy use

The coalition agreement between the SPD and the CDU/CSU is now signed and sealed. Let’s take a look at what it has to offer on the subject of climate and energy, and what the SPD members will be voting on in the coming weeks.

Until 2. March, and on march 4 they will be paid. March is then disbursed, it says on the internet presence of the SPD. We are not only curious about the result, but also about how low the dithering partners will sink in the election polls until then.

But let’s get to the planned energy and climate policy. First of all, it is striking that under the subheading "air pollution control" there is exactly one sentence. On two lines it is explained that the "technical instructions on air quality control" in order to bring them into line with the state of the art.

In view of the widespread exceeding of the limit values for the pollution with nitrogen oxides and the equally everyday fraud of the automobile manufacturers, this is a shamefully thirsty statement. At least, in the section on climate and environment, there is also a self-evident statement that EU law should be implemented in full.

This would be – if seriously meant – a commitment to the existing limit values and their further lowering. In contrast to this, however, are the efforts, some of which are unlawful, by the coalition parties to prevent diesel driving bans.

Otherwise, there are contradictory, critical and positive points on the subject of climate and energy. On the one hand, as in the exploratory paper, it is cleverly left open whether the 2020 climate protection target (minus 40 percent greenhouse gas emissions compared with 1990 levels) is still being seriously pursued.

The only concrete measures proposed are special tenders for four gigawatts (GW) each of onshore wind energy and photovoltaics, as well as an unquantified contribution from offshore wind energy. The projects are to come on stream as early as next year and the year after, which means that the tenders actually had to be ied more or less immediately.

"Climate action program"coal as a phase-out model

While this is encouraging for the development of the industries and could ensure that the technological rupture feared by some is avoided if the recently strong expansion of wind energy should collapse due to the restrictions introduced with the compulsory tendering and drive companies into bankruptcy, it is also a good thing that the wind energy industry has been able to continue to grow. However, the contribution to climate protection will be rather small unless coal-fired power plants are taken off the grid on a significant scale at the same time.

But there is no specific information on this in the agreed document. Interesting in this context, however, is one of the mandates given to a new commission that the negotiating partners want to have drawn up a climate action program by the end of the year.

This should include "a plan for the gradual reduction and cessation of coal-fired power generation, including a completion date and the necessary legal, economic, social and structural policy measures to accompany it" include.

This is the first time that the former people’s parties have admitted that coal is a phase-out model. Ultimately, however, everything will depend on the agreed time frame. It is to be feared that, in a relatively isolated process over which society and parliament have little influence, a very long transitional period will be set that will, for example, perpetuate opencast lignite mining into the fourth decade.

As in the case of the nuclear phase-out, which was delayed for far too long, the public was led to believe that the ie had been settled.

Share of renewable energy carriers of 65 percent by 2030

Otherwise, the coalition agreement speaks of achieving a 65 percent share of renewable energy carriers by 2030. As in the exploratory paper, it is left open whether this means the entire energy supply or only the electricity sector. The former would be ambitious, the latter rather uncommitted, as it would only mean the continuation of the current development.

Furthermore, the negotiating partners emphasize market-based and rather centralistic measures in energy policy, such as accelerated grid expansion and EU-wide electricity trading, but at the same time want to demand storage technologies and advocate the expansion of combined heat and power, which is rather underdeveloped in (west) germany.

Among other things, it is interesting to note that for district and local heating networks, heat storage systems are proposed. These would significantly improve the coupling of heat and electricity production. Research in these areas should be encouraged and a fraunhofer institute for storage technology should be created for this purpose.

Other interesting points are that the communities where RE plants are located should participate more strongly in value creation. This would not only increase the acceptance of wind turbines, but would also help to distribute income and wealth more evenly across the country. Finally, the tenant power regulation is also to be improved.

Until now, housing cooperatives have lost their tax benefits when they sell electricity to their members from plants near their homes. Apparently this is to be changed.