Kerstine Appunn – Informed Comment Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion Sun, 03 Jul 2022 04:10:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 European Union Ministers Agree on Climate Bills, the De Facto End of Gasoline Cars by 2035 Sun, 03 Jul 2022 04:08:10 +0000 By Kerstine Appunn | –

( Clean Energy Wire) – EU member states have approved the end of fossil fuelled passenger cars in 2035 and found compromises on emissions trading and a “Social Climate Fund”. The fund will be used to cushion the impacts of a new price on CO2 in the transport and heating sector and for investments in more efficient buildings and lower-emission mobility.

The proposals now have to be negotiated with the European Parliament. It took the 27 energy and environment ministers late into the night to come to an agreement, with Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania arguing for a delay of the car target to 2040. Germany complicated matters by introducing the option that e-fuel driven cars should be considered possible in the climate-neutral 2035 car fleet. As a compromise, the 2035 combustion engine ban was kept – and agreed to by the EU Council – but the ministers asked the European Commission to assess in 2026 whether CO2-neutral fuels could also comply with EU law.

“The EU Member States have voted by an overwhelming majority that from 2035 only cars and light commercial vehicles that do not emit CO2 will be registered. They give the car industry the planning security it needs,” said Germany’s environment minister Steffi Lemke. European climate commissioner Frans Timmermans said: “We are technology neutral. What we want are zero-emission cars,” Euractiv reports.

The pro-business FDP, which is part of Germany’s government coalition and had lobbied hard for including e-fuels in the CO2-free car plan of the EU, celebrated the compromise as a success, whilst other commentators highlighted the inconclusive language of the assignment to the Commission. Industry association BDI said the compromise was “a highly problematic decision” that only seems to guarantee an open approach to all CO2 neutral technologies.

“It de facto means the end of the internal combustion engine, because only electric drives may continue to be counted in the EU car fleet regulation,” BDI president Siegfried Russwurm said. “It makes no sense to block the potential of synthetic fuels from the outset. No one can predict today with absolute certainty what will be technologically possible and the best solution in 203,” he added.

Greenpeace Germany commented that “the pipe dream of e-fuels is slowing down the upcoming restructuring of the car industry, misleading consumers and setting back climate protection”, saying that it was “annoying that the EU must now continue to deal with the bogus solution of inefficient and expensive e-fuels, which have no place in the passenger car market”.

For the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) the council of ministers decided to reduce the quantity of allowances by 61 percent by 2030 (previously 43%) and phase-out free allocation of allowances to certain industrial sectors and the aviation sector. The new ETS for emissions in the transport and heating sector will be introduced in 2027 and reduced the covered emissions by 43 percent by 2030 compared to 2005. The Social Climate Fund has a total size of 59 billion euros over the period of 2027-2032 and will be financed from revenues of the new ETS for buildings and road transport.

NGO Germanwatch called the outcome of the meeting “somewhat disappointing” and said that Germany had contributed to watering down the EU climate package in several parts. Giving industrial companies free emission allowances up till 2035 was showing lack of ambition on the parts of the environment ministers, policy director Christoph Bals said.

After having agreed on their position, the energy and environment Councils will continue negotiations together with the European Parliament in a trilogue procedure with the European Commission. The final adoption of the climate protection rules of the Fit for 55 package is scheduled for the second half of 2022.

Via Clean Energy Wire

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German Gov’t Dedicates 2% of Country’s Land Area to Onshore Wind Sun, 19 Jun 2022 04:08:45 +0000 By Kerstine Appunn | –

( Clean Energy Wire ) – More areas in Germany are going to be designated to onshore wind energy, with state governments ways of interfering being limited by new federal rules.

German states will have to actively look for areas that can be designated for wind farm construction in order to meet government targets. The cabinet is forwarding another set of draft laws aimed at accelerating the country’s energy transition, detailing new rules for using a minimum of two percent of the country’s surface area for wind turbines and clarifying rules for species protection to parliament, where the legislation is scheduled to be passed before the summer break in July. While satisfied that the government is tackling too long planning procedures and legal hurdles for wind power, industry representatives strongly criticised the species protection rules for creating new legal uncertainties that would prolong procedures even more.

In a bid to “significantly accelerate” the expansion of renewable energies, the German government has agreed on another set of amendments to the laws on energy transition, paving the way for using two percent of the country’s surface area for onshore wind power generation and cutting down wind park planning procedure times by creating new, uniform standards for species protection.

Following reports last week that disagreement between individual ministries, in particular over species protection, was likely to delay the government’s plan to get the new legislation into parliament before the summer break, the cabinet nevertheless pushed ahead with the two proposals that are to be passed by parliament as early as this summer.

The government makes good on its promise to assign a fixed share of the country’s land area to onshore wind by dividing it up between the 16 federal states. “We are taking into account wind conditions, nature and species conservation and spatial orders. It remains up to the Länder to decide how they meet their land use targets. However, we rule out any prevention planning,” the ministry for economy and climate writes.

“I don’t want to hide the fact that it will mean an imposition for people and states.”
– Climate minister Habeck on the new wind power expansion legislation

The target is to roughly double the capacity of onshore wind power in the country to 115 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, meaning annual capacity additions will have to reach around 10 GW as of 2025. Following a wind power expansion boom after 2013, additions to Germany’s onshore wind capacity dwindled after 2017 and only slowly picked up again in the 2020s. By 2035, all electricity generated in Germany is to come from renewable sources, mainly from wind and solar PV.

With the “onshore wind energy law”, Germany’s 13 larger states have to have designated 1.4 percent of their surface area to onshore wind power by 2026; by 2032 they have to reach their respective target of 1.8-2.2 percent. The states must do their own planning, guided by a set of uniform rules and modelling issued by the federal government but can stick to individual distance rules if this doesn’t interfere with reaching the percentage target. If, however, they do not manage to assign enough space to wind turbines, wind power investors would be automatically allowed to build new turbines in areas previously unavailable due to the distance rules. The country’s three city states, Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen, must use 0.5 percent of their area for wind power. Depending on their wind conditions and the size of their nature protection areas, certain states will only have to reach slightly less than the two-percent share, while others must achieve slightly more. States can make deals among each other to fulfil their obligations.

The new rules will ensure that the expansion of wind power in the country is getting back on track, economy and climate minister Robert Habeck said in Berlin. “But I don’t want to hide the fact that it will mean an imposition for people and states,” he said, adding that he was prepared for having many debates and conflicts. While taking worries and fears about the wind power expansion seriously, Habeck said these wouldn’t make the government incapable to act.
Energy industry demands changes to species protection rules

To prevent wide-ranging species protection rules from stopping new wind power development, the government proposes protection zones for endangered species and uniform federal standards will be set for species protection assessments. Landscape conservation areas can be included in the search for wind installations in the future in the new Federal Nature Conservation Act..

Kerstin Andreae, Chairwoman of energy industry association BDEW said: “We need an enormous expansion of onshore wind energy in order to become independent of fossil fuels in the medium and long term and to achieve the climate targets. It is good that the German government finally wants to remove the central obstacles and now accelerate the planning processes.” She said that in particular, the general classification of wind energy as an “overriding public interest” that serves “public safety” in the Federal Nature Conservation Act is an important step.

Ingbert Liebing, managing director of energy utility association VKU, said that the government is moving in the right direction with the two percent land allocation, but that the changes to the nature conservation act “will in no way contribute to accelerating the expansion of wind energy.” “The legal logic and methodology should focus on the population of a species and not on the individual specimen. This also corresponds to current recommendations of the European Commission,” he said.

Similar criticism came from wind power association BWE. The proposal presented by the government needs to be urgently revised by parliament, “otherwise, the draft makes it impossible to achieve the expansion targets and thus also the climate targets.” “The draft law creates new legal uncertainties and would prolong approval processes,” BWE president Hermann Albers said.

Greenpeace Germany commented that the new rules failed to create strongly protected areas that are “completely and very largely excluded from human use,” calling on the government to flank the expansion of renewables with subjecting 15 percent of Germany’s forests and marine areas, respectively, to strict protection.
Parliament takes over and could decide on laws within next four weeks

On 6 July, the cabinet will present the next set of rules, focusing on further infrastructure planning acceleration rules. These include the elimination of duplicate checks in the preparation of plans and closer dovetailing of spatial planning and approval procedures to shorten planning periods. This will be followed by a digitalisation push in planning and citizen participation, the ministry said.

The legislation presented today will now be transferred to parliament which is likely to make changes and where input from stakeholders can still be taken into account. If all goes smoothly, parliament could pass the new laws within four weeks before the parliament’s summer recess, minister Habeck said.

The federal coalition government of Social Democrats (SPD), Green Party and Free Democrats (FDP) pledged when it took over in late 2021 to accelerate renewables growth, the hydrogen ramp-up, the decarbonisation of the heating and transport systems and also power grid expansion. By the end of 2022, all the necessary legal changes that are part of this “climate emergency programme” are to be enacted so that the following three years would start to show how these make a “physical” difference that the government can be measured against, the climate and economy minister said earlier this month.

Via Clean Energy Wire

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” .

Germany reduces dependence on Russian Oil from 35% to 12%, aims to End Imports Sun, 01 May 2022 04:04:22 +0000 ( Clean Energy Wire ) – Germany has reduced its dependence on Russian crude oil from 35 to 12 percent and will take steps to replace the remaining deliveries to the Russian-operated Schwedt refinery within the next days, said the economy and climate minister. As Gazprom stopped supplies of natural gas to Poland and Bulgaria because of their “failure” to pay in roubles, both EU and German politicians said that Vladimir Putin’s warning shot should not make governments nervous, as contingency plans were put in place. [UPDATE adds spokesperson statement on Germany finding solution for Schwedt]

Germany will create the basis to become independent from imported Russian oil within the next days, economy and climate minister Robert Habeck said after a visit to Poland on 26 April. Germany has reduced its dependence on Russian oil imports from 35 to 12 percent since the beginning of Russia’s war against Ukraine, the minister said.

Habeck detailed how all major German refineries had put plans into action that would wean them off Russian crude oil deliveries, with the exception of the Rosneft-operated PCK refinery in eastern German Schwedt. The Russian-owned Rosneft refinery, which receives its crude through a pipeline connection with Russia, “obviously has no interest in refining any other but Russian oil”, Habeck said. Alternative crude oil deliveries to Schwedt could come from the port of Rostock, and the Polish government had agreed to help with supplies – but only if this didn’t mean that they would help to keep Rosneft alive, Habeck explained. “So we are talking about a situation when Rosneft is not the operator of the Schwedt refinery anymore,” Habeck added.

Finding a solution for Schwedt is the government’s task for the coming days, an economy ministry spokesperson told Clean Energy Wire. “That means that in a few days we will have found an alternative for solving the complicated problem of Schwedt,” she said. “That does not automatically mean getting out of Russian oil in a few days.”

Environmental organisation Greenpeace commented that the government was “finally” taking action. “Germany cannot keep pumping billions more into Putin’s war chest for oil, even though there are alternatives that can be implemented quickly,” said Greenpeace transport expert Marion Tiemann. The government should now do everything to save oil. “Promoting consumption now with a fuel rebate costing billions of euros, which largely benefits company cars, is ludicrous,” she added, referring to government plans to lower taxes on fuels.

Russia halts gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria

Shortly after the minister’s announcements, the Russian government said it would stop delivering natural gas to Poland and Bulgaria because they had failed to pay for the commodity in roubles. Poland receives around 50 percent of its natural gas from Russia, and Bulgaria up to 90 percent. However, both countries said that no supply cuts to customers would be necessary and Poland stressed that it had taken steps to diversify its supply via LNG terminal access and a future pipeline to Norway. In the beginning of April, Russian president Vladimir Putin had announced that “unfriendly” countries have to pay for gas in the Russian currency, but the G7 and EU countries agreed to refuse this as a breach of contract.

This development showed that a cut of Russian gas deliveries to Germany was coming closer, foreign policy expert Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, from the FDP parliamentary group, said on German radio Dlf. The more Germany approaches independence from Russian supplies, the more likely such threats will become, he said. “But we should not let this intimidate us or even make us nervous. We are on the way to saying goodbye to these supplies anyway.” European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen called Russia’s move “blackmail” and said that contingency plans were in place to avoid supply security issues.

Opposition politician Norbert Röttgen from the CDU wrote on Twitter: “As Europeans, we must not let Russia divide us. Russia must know: If they hit one, then all respond. Therefore, an oil and gas embargo is now also a question of European solidarity!”

Germany supports gradual oil embargo – media

Germany’s government is prepared to back a gradual ban on Russian oil the European Union could decide in the coming days, reported Bloomberg.

Minister Habeck said that with some further preparation, Germany would be able to weather a Russian oil embargo. “There would most certainly be regional bottlenecks, higher prices and local interruptions of supply, so we can’t say nobody will notice but it wouldn’t be a complete catastrophe either,” he said.

Weaning Germany off Russian gas is more difficult than in the case of coal and oil but the government was working on establishing a new infrastructure with a focus on getting deliveries of liquified natural gas to hasten the end of the dependence.

Takeover of Russian operated energy infrastructure?

On Monday 25 April, the government had announced an overhaul of the Energy Security Act, sharpening the tools it can use to quickly take control of critical energy infrastructure in the event of it being operated in a way that endangers supply security. The rules allow the government to put companies operating critical infrastructure under trusteeship. If security of supply cannot otherwise be guaranteed, expropriation of such companies will also be possible.

Oil refineries in the East of Germany are not connected to the Western German supply routes and pipelines. The Schwedt operation also supplies the west of Poland.

Via Clean Energy Wire