The planning and approval processes of energy transition projects are obstructing the massive rollout of renewables. Germany’s ungainly bureaucracy has the reputation of being an Olympic sport – and in the case of renewable energy development this rap is, unfortunately, right on the mark. For years now, investment capital for clean tech in Germany has been itching to enter the market. The path there, however, is so thick with legal impediments and other hurdles that many interested parties—start-ups, small businesses, prosumers, and established manufacturers alike—simply judge it not worth the risk and hassle. One task of Germany’s incoming government, regardless which party heads it, has to be to gut the blizzard of red tape. Paul Hockenos explains.
Natural gas has long been touted as the climate-friendly, carbon-low interim fuel in the transition from fossil fuels to renewables. And the recent fall in its price has made gas a go-to fuel for many countries, including Germany. But experts say this is no reason to build ever more pipelines or to see gas as anything more than another fossil fuel that must be phased out as quickly as possible. Paul Hockenos reports.
We are all looking for some good news. Here’s some: coal is tanking globally, nowhere faster than in the EU including the UK. With over 8.3GW of generation capacity coming offline during the first half of the year, coal-fired energy has fallen by almost a third across Europe. Even better: at least another 6 GW of capacity is scheduled to shutter during the second half of 2020 as Spain and Portugal join Sweden and Austria in ending their coal ages. As part of a series on the global decline of coal in 2020, L. Michael Buchsbaum takes a look at Europe, where coal is increasingly unwelcome.
The huge tourist crush this summer in the Alps shows that sustainable tourism has to mean more than just going local. There is a wealth of innovative ideas for making tourism softer on the environment and climate. Rather than just complain about the glut, localities have to insist upon these sometimes prohibitive measures – even if it means turning customers away. Paul Hockenos has the story.
As inspiring as it is to see Fridays for Future on the streets again, its enforced downtime during the pandemic has wrought changes in the climate movement, in Germany and beyond. Can it bounce back to have the global presence it had in 2019? And if so, how does it intend to make its voice count in the new context? Paul Hockenos has the story.
Away from coal! The need to get out of coal is now clear for everyone. But do we need instead more piped gas and LNG – liquified natural gas? Andy Gheorghiu reports
Rainer Baake, 64-years old, is a veteran renewable energy politico with roots that stretch back deep into the earliest days of Germany’s renewables movement and the Greens. In March 2018, Baake left the Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy (BMWi), where he headed up the energy portfolio, with a resounding bang. Since then, he’s travelled around the world shooting a film about climate change. Not one to fade away, he’s got a new think tank up and running called Stiftung Klimaneutralität, or the Climate Neutrality Foundation. Paul Hockenos recently met Mr. Baake for lunch.
Europe’s economy is well placed to benefit from the fledgling global hydrogen economy and should decisively follow through with its hydrogen strategies, says Veronika Grimm, a member of Germany’s council of economic experts, one of the country’s most important advisory committees. “We are in a very strong position in Germany and Europe when it comes to hydrogen and synthetic fuels, and we should keep that advantage,” Grimm told Clean Energy Wire. “It’s very important to create, on an ambitious timeline, the energy policy framework conditions that make hydrogen-related investments attractive for european companies,” said Grimm, who is also a member of Germany’s freshly launched hydrogen council dedicated to supervising the implementation of the country’s recent hydrogen strategy. In this interview, Grimm talks about her expectations for a global hydrogen economy, its implications for industries across the globe, and why she thinks the coronavirus crisis might speed up the transition rather than slowing it.
Geothermal energy has been slow to contribute to Germany’s Energiewende, or clean energy transition. But this is changing. Bavaria has 20 deep-well plants and more in planning. Now its neighbor state in the south, Baden-Wuerttemberg, is picking up the thread. Deep geothermal energy is to become a cornerstone of its effort to achieve climate goals that are even more determined than Germany’s national plans – and currently in danger of falling short. Paul Hockenos has the story.
Just before summer break, Germany’s parliament finally committed to phasing out coal. But the conservative government’s plan doesn’t really call for meaningful shutdowns until 2023 as coal capacity slowly rolls offline through 2038. Instead, the law greenlights a large new coal plant while awarding billions of Euros in direct payments to the aggrieved coal operators and affected regional governments, directly ignoring key recommendations of the once celebrated Coal Commission. Though Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition and industry heaped praise upon it, environmentalists and opposition parties condemned the exit plan as a golden parachute for an already dying industry that won’t ensure the nation meets its Paris Climate Agreement commitments. Michael Buchsbaum has the details.