Thursday 1st January 1970
Berlin tries to force deal for wind farm increaseWe’re still unsure whether this is Germany blatantly acting in the interests of it’s industrial giants or if they really do believe that the EU needs to reduce dependence on imported hydrocarbons. It’s probably a bit of both. Germany has done the hard yards with regard to renewable infrastructure, to the extent that it’s conventional generators are now squealing about reduced demand at peak periods and a slide in profitability.
The German case is an interesting one. Their amount of electricity being generated by renewable means, and consumed at the point of generation, means that the conventional model of central generation is no longer viable. This means that the cost of the reduced amount of power produced by the big generators will increase. This, in turn, will drive more companies towards investing in their own renewable generation, thus compounding the problems faced by the central generators.
We’ve noticed a real spike in enquiries from companies looking to self -generate electricity since the big six announced the latest round of price increases; it seems that the advantages of producing and controlling your own energy are gaining wider appeal. As this gains momentum, it’s likely that the problems facing the German grid operators will be apparent in the UK in the next few years.
Published by The Times
Germany is seeking to force Britain and other European countries to commit themselves to building many more wind and solar farms under a new European Union target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Berlin is demanding that the 2030 emissions target, which the EU is negotiating as its contribution to a global deal on emissions, should include a minimum level of renewable energy.
Britain opposes this and says that countries should be allowed to meet their share of the target by whatever means they choose. This would give Britain the flexibility to focus on cutting carbon dioxide emissions by building more nuclear power stations and conserving energy, rather than by installing wind turbines and solar panels across large tracts of countryside.
Britain and Germany debated the 2030 target at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in Warsaw yesterday.
Ed Davey, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, rejected the German proposal and said that Britain wanted freedom to decide how to cut emissions.
Germany decided to phase out nuclear power after the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan in 2011. It has invested much more heavily than Britain in wind and solar and German companies are world leaders in supplying turbines.
All 405 offshore turbines installed around the coast of Britain in the year to June 2013 were supplied by Siemens, which has a turbine factory in Denmark but has repeatedly delayed committing to building one in Britain.
Ursula Heinen-Esser, Parliamentary State Secretary in Germany’s Environment Ministry, admitted at a side meeting of the Warsaw conference that Germany was seeking a renewables target for 2030 partly out of self-interest.
She said that Germany opposed having a single EU target to cut emissions because that would be perceived as supporting nuclear power in Germany, where public opinion is much more anti-nuclear than in Britain.
She said: “We need targets for renewables and energy efficiency as well. The first reason is very focused on the German situation because we have decided to pursue low-carbon development without nuclear power and a single greenhouse gas target will therefore be received as a nuclear target in Germany.”
Mr Davey responded: “We believe there should be one target in 2030 — a greenhouse gas emission target. Some of us would like more flexibility and we don’t see the concerns about just having one target that our German friends do. The UNFCCC doesn’t need a renewables target from Europe, it needs a greenhouse gas emissions target. That’s what the world needs to see from Europe so I think we can deliver on that.”
The EU’s existing 2020 emissions target, which was agreed partly in response to German pressure, includes a minimum requirement for renewables. Under the target, the EU has agreed to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 20 per cent by 2020, compared with 1990, and to do so by obtaining at least 20 per cent of its energy from renewables — and achieving a minimum of a 20 per cent improvement in energy efficiency.
The European Commission is due to publish a proposal for a 2030 target in January and EU ministers will debate it in March. Mr Davey repeated his call yesterday for the EU to pledge to cut emissions by 50 per cent on 1990 levels by 2030. He said that this would result in the EU’s annual GDP growth rate between 2014 and 2030 falling by only 0.04 per cent.
The EU is likely to announce its 2030 target before a summit on climate change in New York next September hosted by Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary-General. Speaking in Warsaw yesterday, he urged world leaders to make “bold pledges” for cuts in greenhouse gases before the summit. He also said that promises by rich nations of new funds to help poor countries cope with the impact of climate change were “insufficient”.
Britain is already struggling to meet its share of the EU 2020 renewables target, with only 4 per cent of energy generated from renewable sources last year against a target of 15 per cent.