Climate News of the Week Roundup – “Climate Leader” Germany Has a Rather Mixed Track Record

This week’s roundup features the European Investment Bank adopting an emission performance standard for its lending, reportedly against German opposition, Germany giving loan guarantees to a lignite power plant in Greece, being accused of having gone rogue over EU car emission rules, and increasing coal-based power generation, energy cooperatives and solar self-consumption being on the rise in Germany, traditional utilities being urged to move into electricity storage unless they want to consign themselves to eventual irrelevance, the EU-China solar PV spat getting resolved, British Columbia’s C$30 carbon tax being an environmental and economic success story, US transport emissions apparently having peaked in 2007, and more.

Following on the heels of a World Bank decision to limit lending to coal, the European Investment Bank adopted an emission performance standard of 550g CO2 per kWh for its lending. Jessica Shankleman notes that while this will effectively block investment in coal plants that do not have some form of emission control, it will still allow coal plants to be financed if they co-fire biomass, use combined heat and power or carbon capture and storage. There is also the possibility of exemptions. According to a Guardian report, Germany’s director to the EIB had been opposed to the decision. Wasn’t there something about Germany being a climate leader?

Meanwhile, Hannes Koch reports (article in German) that Germany greenlighted Hermes loan guarantees for a lignite power plant in Greece.

EurActiv adds to previous reports how Germany went “rogue” to prevent the adoption of EU CO2 emission rules for cars, using threats, intimidation and blackmail.

Der Spiegel reports (article in German) that German coal-based power generation keep increasing – but mostly for exports. Apparently the increases in coal-based generation and in exports match almost exactly. Due to the low cost of lignite and since older plants are written off anyway it’s profitable to keep them running even at low power prices and even though the output from renewables keeps increasing.

In better news, German energy cooperatives reportedly  (article in German) now have more than 130,000 members and those have invested about €1.2 billion in renewables.

Edgar Meza reports that solar self-consumption is on the rise in Germany. Rather a no-brainer at solar feed-in tariffs at around €0.15 vs. retail power prices at around €0.27.

Louise Downing reports that building-integrated solar PV seems to be taking off, with a triping of the market within two years. It was about time that obvious opportunity gets used.

The Guardian argues that energy companies are paying a heavy price for shunning renewables as traditional sources of power will soon cost more.

Similarly, James Greenberger argues that either traditional utitilies move into electricity storage now, or they consign themselves to eventual irrelevance as their traditional business model becomes increasingly obsolete and the storage market gets captured by others.

The EU announced that it had resolved it solar panel dispute with China by agreeing on a minimum price and volume ceiling for Chinese imports. Reuters reports that some EU producers are still unhappy and intend to go to court as in their view the minimum price still allows dumping. Karl-Friedrich Lenz thinks that insofar the settlement will have any impact, it will be less PV getting installed in Europe, which will leave more panels to be installed elsewhere, bringing down prices for everyone, which will in turn accelerate deployment in other markets. And he suggests that Trade Commissioner De Gucht should inform his colleagues about the price settlement, given that the Commission has been using much higher solar PV prices in its impact assessments (see previous post).

Andy Skuce reports on a new study on British Columbia’s C$30 carbon tax, which concludes that it’s an environmental and economic success story. Emissions are down considerably and BC’s economy has actually performed somewhat better than the rest of Canada. And since the tax is revenue neutral it’s quite popular to boot.

Joris Koornneef has an interesting discussion on whether carbon capture and storage is a choice or a must. His answer is that it is not an absolute must, but not using CCS would require energy efficiency to take a leap forward.

Here is an interesting graph showing that US oil consumption for transportation apparently peaked in 2007. It has since come down by 15%, and that despite GDP now being higher than it was in 2007. Showing once again that the received wisdom that the recent US emission reductions have mostly been due to fracking is flawed.

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