German climate policy has "lost direction"

Germany's new climate protection law, passed by parliament on 15 November, has crushed the sector's hopes that would help pull wind energy out of its current dramatic collapse as more details emerged. Renewables and energy associations have appealed to the government to reconsider its approach.

Germany's new law focuses on emissions reductions in industry and ignore the issues facing its onshore wind sector
Germany's new law focuses on emissions reductions in industry and ignore the issues facing its onshore wind sector

The law sets legally binding climate protection goals for each year and sector, "making Germany the first country to have such a binding roadmap to greenhouse gas neutrality," said environment minister Svenja Schulze.

But renewable energies are mentioned only three times in the 72-page legal text. A government commitment to wind and renewables expansion to help meet 2030 and 2050 targets is conspicuously absent.

Six German industry federations (BDEW, BDI, BWE, DGB, VKU und VDMA) appealed to Peter Altmaier, federal economy ministry, for a change of policy, in particular regarding a separate draft law covering wind energy and aspects of Germany’s coal phase out.

"In the interest of supply safety, grid stability… and affordable electricity prices for households and companies, we need expansion of wind energy on land in all federal states.

"It is inexplicable to us why a fixed 1km wind turbine distance to dwellings rule is still planned, even though it is clear that it means the goal of 65% renewable energy by 2030 will not be reached," they wrote.

"The government’s policy is erratic and has lost direction to achieve its own climate and energy policy goals," added the BNE, the federal association of new energy.

Despite great economic interest in low-cost wind power, its expansion in Germany has collapsed and further job losses are looming.

"When it comes to complicating the framework conditions for renewable energies, the federal minister of economics develops amazing creativity," said Robert Busch, the BNE's managing director.

Emissions reduction

The new law sets CO2 budgets for the buildings, traffic, agriculture, energy and industry sectors to 2030, with the aim of achieving a 55% reduction in emissions compared with 1990.

Annual emissions reductions from 2031 will be set out in a new law in 2025.

The planned national CO2 trading system for the non-energy sectors fails to bring a serious COpricing.

A starting price of €10/tonne is "so low that it will have no impact". Instead it brings new risks through potential legal incompatibility, complained the BNE.

Wind sector hopes have also been dashed for a national CO2 price high enough to put enough upward pressure on EU-wide CO2 prices in the energy sector and, in turn, on wholesale electricity prices, to give wind projects exiting the 20-year support system a chance to continue operating without support.

Funds arising from the planned national CO2 pricing in the non-energy sector will not go to increasing wind and renewables contribution to the energy mix. Instead, they will be allocated to to generously compensate coal and lignite power station owners for closing their plants, and to supporting electro-mobility and heavy industry facing higher electricity prices arising from CO2 emissions trading.

At the same time, efforts to reduce CO2 in industry, transport and heat supply through using renewable electricity – whether directly or as green hydrogen – were discussed at automobile and hydrogen summits on 4 and 5 November.

"Yet it is clear the necessary renewables volumes cannot be covered by renewables imports, offshore wind energy and photovoltaics," the groups pointed out.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles
and free email bulletins.

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in