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How smart grid technologies are disrupting the energy sector

In order to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement of 2015, the European Commission has set the long-term goal that EU Member States should be climate neutral by 2050. The energy sector must be transformed to keep the temperature rise well below 2°C. Renewable energy supply, combined with energy efficiency and the electrification of heat and transport, is seen as the key to reducing energy-related CO2 emissions by over 90 per cent compared to 1990. Part of the strategy implemented by the German Federal Government for tackling climate change is to further decentralize the electricity distribution system by 2050. This is reshaping the role of Distribution System Operators (DSOs). Philip Emmerich reports how smart grid technologies are disrupting the energy sector and challenging the business of DSOs in Germany.

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The energy transition and its copper problem

Proponents of a global energy transition often claim that it is a completely renewable and clean project. True, renewable energy resources, such as solar, wind and geothermal are abundant, but the metals used for the production of the technologies are not. Take copper for example: it is a vital – yet limited – resource that has been largely absent from energy transition debates. Rebecca Bertram has a closer look.

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Nord Stream 2: Putin’s Fossil Money Pipeline into Germany

Poised to split the EU and poison the climate for generations, the controversial Nord Stream 2 fossil gas pipeline is almost complete. With Russian Premier Vladimir Putin its nominal chief, the €10 billion project to transport Siberian gas to western European markets is headed by a former German Chancellor and a former spy in the East German Secret Police. To understand how such a project could come this far, despite tightening environmental regulations and ever more alarming scientific evidence, one must look at the personalities behind the pipeline. In the second in a series of posts, lead blogger L. Michael Buchsbaum reviews the strange bedfellows created by Nord Stream 2’s climate killing politics.
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Litmus test: Will regulators acknowledge Nord Stream’s footprint?

While construction on the Russian-backed Nord Stream 2 fossil gas pipeline nears completion, international media attention remains focused squarely on its geopolitical significance. Often missing are the project’s looming climate impacts. Following the landmark decision by Germany’s Constitutional Court ordering politicians to protect future generations from climate harm by staying within the nation’s carbon budget, NGO Deutsche Umwelthilfe or Environmental Action Germany is suing the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) to revoke its construction permit. Despite the pipeline being the largest fossil fuel project in Europe, its climate impacts have never been reviewed during its approval process, nor has any official body ordered a complete lifecycle analysis of the project. Against this backdrop, Nord Stream 2 is also a litmus test of Germany’s commitment to climate. The first in a series of posts, lead blogger Michael Buchsbaum reviews how Nord Stream 2 contradicts German and European Union climate targets, the 2015 Paris Agreement and violates recent court decisions.

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Threatened masculinity as an obstacle to sustainable change

Fossil fuels are not only linked to high emissions and climate change, but are also part of a social identity that is faltering: masculinity, argues Cara Daggett, a political scientist who coined the phrase “petro-masculinity”. The transition to a more climate-friendly future is connected to the future of fossil fuels and also to challenges to (white) male privilege. This struggle is evident when talking about the current decision-making landscape, which is predominantly male and has scant room for diverse perspectives. Kathrin Meyer draws a line between threatened masculinity and the stagnation of key energy and climate issues.

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‘K-battery’ competition and Korea’s mobility transition

The automotive industry has significantly contributed to South Korea’s rapid economic development since the 1970s. The worldwide boom of e-mobility in recent years is changing the industrial structure of Korea. The government is now trying to promote the ‘K-battery’ to boost the Korean economy. Can national support accelerate the transition to a green economy? What does it mean to the world’s fifth largest automotive producer? Yi hyun Kang has the story.

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Waste-to-Energy’s Days are Numbered. Applaud!

Circumventing landfills by turning garbage into energy sounds like a win-win proposition. But the incineration of garbage has high carbon emissions and produces other dangerous toxins. Waste-to-energy (WtE) plants may be necessary for the very last of unrecyclable waste, but we do not need more of them to accomplish this. Already recycling has cut into their feed supply – and should, hopefully, put them out of business.

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Rolling Hotels: Climate friendly Night Trains return to European rail networks

2021 is the European Year of Rail in recognition of the key role trains play in efforts to strike climate neutrality by 2050. As well as reducing short-distance flights, regulators across the continent are also promoting night trains as a more sustainable form of travel. This summer, rail operators are re-launching services that had been halted and are investing in new routes and equipment across the continent. As part of its European Mobility Atlas 2021, the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung has launched a series of webinars and forums to underscore the benefits of night trains as a climate solution and urge more action from Brussels and other capitals. Lead Blogger Michael Buchsbaum reviews recent European Night Train developments and interviews one of the two Atlas’ Chief Executive Editors and rail expert, Philipp Cerny.

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Fracking bans: Ireland firmly in favor while Germany sits on the fence

While the Irish Centre For Human Rights has outlined severe negative impacts from fracking, the German Expert Committee on Fracking sees no reason to recommend a comprehensive fracking ban. Andy Gheorghiu outlines the fault lines of the debate and explains why it is vital that the general public weighs in to comment on the draft report of the German Expert Committee on Fracking.

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