Mercedes-Benz will offer electric drive on all commercial van lines; electric eVito now available to order, eSprinter in 2019

21 Nov 2017   -, Electric Cars, Germany

Mercedes-Benz Vans will offer electric drive options on all its commercial van model lines. This will start with the mid-size eVito, with deliveries commencing in the second half of 2018. Further model ranges will follow, starting in 2019. The eVito, the second all-electric production model from Mercedes-Benz Vans after the 2010 Vito E-Cell, starts at €39,990 (US$47,000) (in Germany excl. VAT). The exclusive pre-ordering phase for the mid-size van begins today in Germany, with market launch scheduled for the second half of 2018. The first 1,000 orders on the microsite will also be rewarded with a service package including Wallbox. The eVito will be followed in 2019 by the eSprinter. The line-up will then be rounded off by the Citan. The […]

Volkswagen Group to spend >$40B over next 5 years to develop electric mobility, autonomous driving, new mobility services and digitalization

The Volkswagen Group will spend more than €34 billion (US$40 billion) by the end of 2022 on the development of electric mobility, autonomous driving, new mobility services and digitalization. Most of this investment will go into the electrification and hybridization of all Group models. This marks another move to advance the Roadmap E electrification offensive which was announced in September; the goal is to electrify the entire model portfolio by 2030. ( Earlier post .) We are reinventing the car. We are making targeted investments in digitalization, autonomous driving, electric mobility and new mobility services by providing the necessary funds from our own resources. We are, however, doing so without sidelining existing technologies and vehicle projects, since this is how we will […]

Volkswagen Plans $12 Billion Electric-Car Blitz in China

16 Nov 2017   China, Germany

Volkswagen AG and its Chinese partners will jointly invest nearly $12 billion by 2025 in developing electric cars for the local market, VW’s China chief executive said. That will enable the German auto group—which operates in China through joint ventures with the state-run SAIC Motor Corp. 600104 -0.86% and FAW Group Corp.—to release five electric-car models in China annually until 2025, or around 40 in all, Jochem Heizmann told reporters here Thursday. The Guangzhou Auto Show opens to the public Saturday. Some automakers, both foreign and domestic, are scrambling to meet a Chinese government requirement that electric vehicles account for roughly 3% to 4% of their total output in 2019, but Mr. Heizmann said that won’t be a problem for VW. With plans in place to have […]

Quick German coal exit would endanger power supply security: RWE

14 Nov 2017   Coal, Germany

German coal-biased utility RWE on Tuesday warned of a quick exit from coal power to further reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which the Green Party is demanding in talks to form a new coalition government. Rising steam from RWE coal power plant, one of Europe’s biggest electricity companies, is reflected in a car’s mirror in Neurath, north-west of Cologne, Germany, November 3, 2017. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay Chief financial officer Markus Krebber said such a unilateral move by Germany, which had just contributed to making a pan-European CO2 trading mechanisms much stricter, would harm the economy and undermine the security of supply. “Focusing on climate protection goals alone is not enough and will lead to fatal misallocations,” he told journalists in a call on Tuesday, adding that coal-based power generation will be declining already in the coming years. “Exiting coal in the short term would make it impossible […]

There Was So Much Wind Power In Germany This Weekend, Consumers Got Free Energy

31 Oct 2017   Germany, Wind

A stormy weekend led to free electricity in Germany as wind generation reached a record, forcing power producers to pay customers the most since Christmas 2012 to use electricity. Power prices turned negative as wind output reached 39,409 megawatts on Saturday, equivalent to the output of about 40 nuclear reactors. To keep the grid supply and demand in balance, negative prices encourage producers to either shut power stations or else pay consumers to take the extra electricity off the network.

VW Fails To Secure Critical Commodity For EVs

The German carmaker last month put out a tender seeking a five-year supply of the strategic metal at a fixed price. But people familiar with the deal said the offer was well below market prices. Cobalt has more than doubled in price from a year ago, when it was trading around $12 a pound, to its current $27.10 a pound as of last Thursday.  “They’re being arrogant because they’re automotive and they’re used to doing it,” said a cobalt trader quoted Sunday in the Financial Times . “They completely misjudged the contents of the tender. There’s no point negotiating – it’s not even a discussion point.” Over 60 percent of cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – raising concerns about stability of supply. The big producers are Glencore (LON:GLEN) and China Molybdenum, along with thousands of artisinal miners who […]

Russia’s Rosneft Elects German Ex-chancellor Schroeder as Chairman

30 Sep 2017   Germany, Russia

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder faced further criticism at home after he was elected as chairman of Russia’s biggest oil producer Rosneft on Friday. Schroeder, a Social Democrat who led Germany from 1998 to 2005, prompted widespread criticism in his homeland in August when he was nominated to Rosneft’s board, given Western sanctions against Moscow over the Ukraine crisis and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s frosty relations with the Kremlin. Shareholders in state-controlled Rosneft, which is subject to the sanctions, elected Schroeder to its board at a meeting on Friday, and shortly afterwards Schroeder told a news briefing he was pleased to have been chosen to be chairman. “Schroeder is a reputed and renowned politician, who has persistently advocated strategic cooperation between Germany, Europe and Russia,” Rosneft […]

Germany gets economic lift with wind energy

23 Sep 2017   Germany, Wind

With the start of construction of a new wind farm off the coast of Germany, officials said the nation’s economy was supported through low-carbon efforts. German energy company E.ON, with support from Norway’s Statoil, hosted a ceremony to mark the start of construction for the Arkona offshore wind farm, which formally started in late August. Christian Pegel, a regional Germany energy minister, said the wind project represented an important economic milestone because of its new job creation potential. “The Arkona offshore wind project is a key investment in the expansion of wind power,” he said in a statement . E.ON laid the first of the 60 foundations for the wind farm in national waters of the Baltic Sea in late August . Foundations […]

Exclusive: VW moves to secure cobalt supplies in shift to electric cars

Germany’s Volkswagen ( VOWG_p.DE ) is moving to secure long-term supplies of cobalt, a vital component of rechargeable batteries, as the group accelerates its ambitious shift to electric cars. Cobalt industry sources told Reuters that VW, the world’s largest automaker, has asked producers to submit proposals on supplying the material for up to 10 years from 2019. Volkswagen, which decided on the strategic shift to electric vehicles (EVs) after it was engulfed in the “dieselgate” scandal, plans to invest more than 20 billion euros ($24 billion) in zero-emission vehicles by 2030 to challenge pioneer Tesla ( TSLA.O ) in creating a mass market. The company, which aims to make up to three million EVs a year by 2025, wants all the cobalt tender […]

First foundations set for Baltic Sea wind farm

25 Aug 2017   Germany, Wind

 German energy company E.ON said Thursday it laid the first of the 60 foundations for a wind farm development in national waters of the Baltic Sea. The German company said it’s deploying the 60 so-called monopiles about 25 miles offshore. Foundations for a common substation were installed last month and the entire project could start generating energy for German consumers by 2019. Nine countries that share a border with the North Sea — Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden — agreed last year to improve infrastructure to support offshore wind. Germany leads among European nations in terms of offshore wind energy growth, though Great Britain has more offshore wind capacity installed. Germany has one of the […]

Siemens building first stretch of eHighway on public roads in Germany

12 Aug 2017   Germany

Siemens has been commissioned by the German state of Hesse to build an overhead contact line for electrified freight transport on a ten-kilometer stretch of autobahn. The line will supply electricity for the electric drive of a hybrid truck. Siemens originally presented its innovative “eHighway” concept in 2012. ( Earlier post .) The system will be installed on the A5 federal autobahn between the Zeppelinheim/Cargo City Süd interchange at the Frankfurt Airport and the Darmstadt/Weiterstadt interchange. With this field trial, the eHighway will be tested on a public highway in Germany for the first time. Siemens will be responsible for the planning, construction and, as an option, maintenance of the system. The system is being built as part of the joint project “Electrified, innovative heavy freight transport on autobahns” (ELISA) of Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). Hessen Mobil, responsible for road […]

Wintershall warns U.S. against playing ‘geopolitical football’

3 Aug 2017   Germany, Russia, USA

German energy company Wintershall, a European partner with Russia’s Gazprom, said the European energy sector can’t be used for “geopolitical football .” President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a bill into law that sanctions Iran, North Korea and Russia. The Russian measure in particular is significant given the election issue clouding the Trump administration. Trump in a signing statement expressed reservations about the bill’s impact, saying it encroaches on presidential authority and may harm U.S. interests as they relate to Russian diplomacy and outreach with European allies. Sanctions on Russia relate in part to crude oil and natural gas pipeline infrastructure and came as the European market works to address diversity issues. Russia meets about a quarter of Europe’s […]

Analysis: German wind, solar capacity hits 95 GW with 3.8 GW added in H1

2 Aug 2017   Germany, Wind

Germany’s wind and solar portfolio now stands at 95 GW after 3.8 GW of new capacity was brought online in the first six months of 2017, an S&P Global Platts analysis of the latest data shows. Onshore wind adds 2.3 GW, offshore up 0.6 GW to 52.7 GW total Solar adds 0.9 GW in H1 to 42 GW total Monthly additions average above 0.6 GW over past 24 months Onshore wind registered the biggest gains with almost 2.3 GW added as already approved projects were rushed to benefit from last-minute set feed-in-tariffs before the new auction rules are set to slow down growth from 2019 onwards, the BWE wind lobby group said in its half-yearly update. Video: EU carbon prices rally to four-month high By end-June, onshore wind capacity was 48.024 GW, it added with grid-connected offshore wind capacity at 4.749 GW, it said. Article continues below… Digital Commodities […]

German conservative calls for phase-out of petrol and diesel

26 Jul 2017   Germany

Germany should soon start phasing out petrol and diesel, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) said as Britain announced it would ban the sale of new petrol and diesel-powered cars from 2040. Germany’s car industry is in hot water after Der Spiegel reported on Friday that Volkswagen <VOWG_p.DE >, BMW, Audi and Porsche may have colluded to fix the prices of diesel emissions treatment systems. EU antitrust regulators are investigating allegations of a cartel. The supervisory boards of Daimler and Volkswagen are due to meet on Wednesday to discuss the issue. “We need to start getting rid of combustion technology in the short-term,” Oliver Wittke, a transport expert in Merkel’s CDU, told Deutschlandfunk radio. Herbert Behrens, a transport expert in the radical Left party, also said the government should start taking action now so that it could cope without fossil fuels by 2050. […]

Germany Should Say Danke for U.S. Oil

18 Jul 2017   Germany, USA

German Chancellor Angela Merkel used her closing speech at the recent Group of 20 summit to chide President Trump for withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate accord. Yet the German people will benefit far more from the American president’s focus on facilitating U.S. energy production and boosting exports than from Mrs. Merkel’s climate policies. They have increased residential electricity prices for German households and failed to achieve any meaningful reductions in fossil-fuel consumption or carbon-dioxide emissions. …

Germany Is Addicted to Russian Gas

New pipeline would cut costs of shipping gas to western Europe Hearing on local objections scheduled for later this month Hidden by pine forests near the deserted site of what was once East Germany’s biggest nuclear reactor, two shiny pipelines emerge from the Baltic Sea to mark the spot where Chancellor Angela Merkel is trying to secure the country’s energy future. Not far from the Hanseatic town of Greifswald — an area Merkel represents in parliament — the chancellor wants a $10 billion pipeline expansion built to increase the amount of Russian natural gas imported from Siberia, more than 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) away. Nord Stream 1 pipelines near Lubmin. The project, led by Russia’s state-run Gazprom PJSC , is intended to bolster German confidence that it has enough gas to underpin an unprecedented transition from the coal and nuclear plants, which are being closed, to a future dominated […]

German power company examining new wind energy options

12 Apr 2017   Germany, Wind

Technology for wind energy could use fixed-wing or sails for power in a way that would make deployment easier for deep waters, a German company said. German energy company E.ON said it made an investment commitment with Ampyx Power to test so-called airborne wind energy technology. “This novel technology has the potential to transform the global offshore wind generation market as airborne wind devices are cheaper to manufacture and easier to maintain than conventional wind turbines,” the German company explained. “Additionally, they are easier deployed in deeper waters surrounding countries such as Portugal, Japan and the United States.” Ampyx Power is a pioneer in the development of novel wind energy technologies and the company said teaming up with E.ON was “clear […]

Eon to cut 1,300 jobs and sell assets in bid to cut debt by €7bn

15 Mar 2017   Germany

Eon, the German utility, recorded a net loss of €16bn for 2016 — the largest in his history — and unveiled ambitious measures to reduce debt by €7bn through asset sales and cutting 1,300 jobs. The loss reflected impairments on Uniper, the new fossil fuel power company spun out of Eon last year, as well as payments Eon is having to make into a new state fund to cover the cost of disposing and storing Germany’s nuclear waste. But it said its balance sheet for 2016 will be the “last to reflect the burdens of the past”, leaving the company free to focus on its three core businesses — energy networks, customer solutions and renewables. “2016 was a transitional year,” said Johannes Teyssen, Eon’s chief executive. The impact on the company’s balance sheet from the Uniper spin-off and the nuclear deal with the government “marks a turning point and clears Eon’s way into the new energy world”, he said. Eon’s results come less than a month after its rival RWE unveiled a €5.7bn loss for 2016 — the largest in its 119-year history — and said it was scrapping its dividend for the second year in a row.

As VW Pleads Guilty in U.S. Over Diesel Scandal, Trouble Looms in Europe

11 Mar 2017   Germany

Volkswagen took a big step toward resolving its legal problems in the United States when it pleaded guilty on Friday to its vast emissions deception. But in Europe, its troubles may be just beginning. Across the Continent, the German carmaker faces not only an expanding criminal investigation but also thousands of lawsuits from consumers demanding recourse.

BASF Looks to Invest in Iran’s Recently Opened Energy Sector

24 Feb 2017   Germany, Iran

BASF SE is exploring options for tapping Iran’s recently opened energy market, making it the latest in a long line of German firms looking to expand into the Islamic Republic. Chief Executive Kurt Bock said Friday that the company—through its fully-owned oil and gas subsidiary Wintershall AG—is currently examining business opportunities in Iran after being courted by Iranian authorities. “We are trying to…

Putin tells Merkel gas piped to EU could be siphoned off in Ukraine

15 Nov 2016   Germany, Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday of the risk of Ukraine siphoning off Russian gas destined for Europe, the Kremlin said. In a statement, it said that in a phone call the two leaders agreed that talks would be held involving the Russian energy ministry, gas giant Gazprom and the European Commission on the issue. Putin said the risks of unsanctioned gas siphoning by Kiev had increased because of expectations of a cold winter. Most of the gas sold by Russia to European countries flows along pipelines crossing Ukraine. Russian gas accounts for over a third of gas consumption in the EU. Neighboring Ukraine has not bought gas from Russia for a year because of its political conflict with Moscow, which annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014. In the past, the European Commission has successfully brokered deals between Moscow and Kiev on the sale […]

Tesla buys German engineer for European expansion

Tesla announced an expansion into Europe on Tuesday, acquiring one company and revealing plans to open one or two “gigafactories” in the coming years.  The all-electric car company is buying Grohmann Engineering, a German manufacturing specialist, to increase its production capabilities on the continent as it attempts to scale up manufacturing for its mass-market Model 3 car.  The Silicon Valley group, which produced fewer than 55,000 units last year, has pledged to make 500,000 cars a year by 2018.

“We want to make Germany, essentially, a part of Tesla,” Elon Musk, chief executive, said on a conference call from Grohmann’s home town of Prüm. “This represents a significant endorsement of German technology.”  Tesla declined to give a purchase price for Grohmann but Mr Musk called it “a major investment” that will form the Germany headquarters of Tesla Advanced Automation, with other bases to follow. He said there are plans to add at least 1,000 advanced engineering and skilled technician jobs in the country during the next two years.

Germany calls for a ban on combustion engine cars by 2030

11 Oct 2016   Germany

The council also wants the European Commission to review its taxation policies and their effect on the “stimulation of emission-free mobility.” Just what that means isn’t clear. It could involve stronger tax incentives for buying zero-emissions cars, but it could also involve eliminating tax breaks for diesel cars in EU states. Automakers are already worried that tougher emission standards could kill diesels — remove the low cost of ownership and it’d only hasten their demise. Not that the public would necessarily be worried. Forbes notes that registrations of diesels, still mainstays of the European car market, dropped sharply in numerous EU countries in August. There’s a real possibility that Volkswagen’s emission cheating scandal is having a delayed effect on diesel sales. Combine that with larger zero-emissions incentives and the proposed combustion engine ban, and it might not take much for Europeans to go with electric or hydrogen the next […]

VW says U.S. ‘Dieselgate’ settlement not to be replicated in Europe

4 Jul 2016   Germany

Volkswagen’s ( VOWG_p.DE ) CEO has rejected calls for the carmaker to compensate customers in Europe over the ‘Dieselgate’ emissions scandal along the lines of its $15 billion deal in the United States, telling a German newspaper a similar settlement would be inappropriate and unaffordable. Europe’s Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska last week called on Volkswagen to also compensate European owners of its diesel-powered cars, saying it would be unfair for them to be treated differently from U.S. customers just because of a different legal system. “We have a different situation here (in Europe),” Matthias Mueller was quoted as saying by Welt am Sonntag. Mueller also said while VW was on a solid financial footing, replicating the U.S. deal in Europe would be tough for VW to cope with financially. “You don’t […]

Volkswagen’s U.S. emissions settlement nearly $10.3 billion: source

24 Jun 2016   Air Quality, Germany

Volkswagen AG’s ( VOWG_p.DE ) diesel emissions settlement with U.S. regulators is valued at nearly $10.3 billion, a source briefed on the agreement said on Thursday. The settlement includes offers to buyback nearly 500,000 polluting U.S. vehicles and set aside billions for green energy projects and a program to offset excess diesel pollution. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity citing court-imposed gag rules, told Reuters the average compensation to owners was around $5,000. The settlement is currently valued at nearly $10.287 billion, the source added, saying final numbers could change before a Tuesday court deadline. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editiing by Tom Brown)

All New Cars To Be Emission Free In Germany By 2030

15 Jun 2016   Climate, Germany

Electric Car In an effort to make good on a pledge to cut its carbon output anywhere from 80 percent to 95 percent by 2050, Germany is mandating that new cars registered there will have to be emissions-free by the year 2030. Deputy Economy Minster Rainer Baake said that the country has not seen any reductions in its CO2 output from transportation since 1990. Baake also said that while Germany can’t do anything about truck emissions at the present, it can take steps to mitigate CO2 emissions from cars. Germany’s Environment Ministry has declared that the transportation system must cut approximately 10 million metric tons of CO2 over the next five years, and that vehicle emissions account for approximately one-fifth of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions. Last year Germany’s emissions totaled about 165 million tons. Germany has committed to lowering emissions by 40 percent by the year 2020. The […]

Six months into ‘Dieselgate’ scandal, gloom deepens in VW’s hometown

19 Mar 2016   Air Quality, Germany

When Martin Winterkorn dropped by to order some new glasses in the Volkswagen company town of Wolfsburg, he was “visibly dejected”, according to his optician. But the visit wasn’t last September, when Winterkorn had just quit as the German carmaker’s chief, it was this week. Six months into the “Dieselgate” affair surrounding VW, the mood in Wolfsburg – where almost half the population works at its giant car factory or in related businesses – is as gloomy as Winterkorn’s, and shows little sign of recovering. Volkswagen ( VOWG_p.DE ) remains mired in the scandal over its rigging of U.S. exhaust emissions tests, facing a barrage of lawsuits and grappling with a stalled German vehicle recall. With workers fearing for their jobs and the dive in VW’s fortunes hitting Wolfsburg’s municipal finances, few […]

VW institutional investors file $3.61 billion suit in Germany

15 Mar 2016   Germany

Almost 300 institutional investors in Volkswagen have filed a multi-billion euro suit against the carmaker for what they see as breaches of its capital markets duty in the emissions scandal, the law firm representing them said. The lawsuit, for damages of 3.256 billion euro ($3.61 billion), was filed at a regional court in Braunschweig in VW’s home state of Lower Saxony on Monday and is being brought by 278 investors from all over the world, including German insurers and U.S. pension fund Calpers. Law firm TISAB said the lawsuit was over whether VW neglected its duty to the capital markets regarding the timeframe between June 2008 and Sept. 18, 2015. A spokesman for VW said the carmaker could not […]

VW Toys With Giving Up the U.S. Mass Market, and Dealers Fume

The suggestion was startling: Maybe VW should give up on selling cars to America’s masses. It was late January, at the Detroit auto show, and Herbert Diess, the global chief of Volkswagen AG’s namesake brand, was sounding out U.S. dealers as the company grappled with the biggest crisis in its modern history. Perhaps, Diess wondered aloud, VW should stop trying to compete with the likes of Toyota Motor Corp. in America and go back to focusing on higher-end models. “It was near crickets in the room,” said Alan Brown, chairman of VW’s U.S. dealer council. After stunned silence came anger, Brown said. He and 11 other dealers are heading to company headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, next week to tell executives they fervently oppose throwing in the towel on the mass market. They want the company to stick to the commitments it has made for new models and keep U.S. […]

Siemens to Cut 2,500 Jobs, Mostly in Germany

10 Mar 2016   Germany

Siemens AG said on Wednesday it would cut about 2,500 jobs at its Process Industries and Drives division, most of them in Germany, in response to intense competition in the oil and gas, metals and mining sectors. “Plunging demand in raw materials markets has led to a significant intensification of competition, particularly in Asia,” said Juergen Brandes, head of the Process Industries and Drives division. The…

Iran opening energy doors for Europe

23 Feb 2016   Germany, Iran

Iran said Monday it expected to renew an energy relationship with German company Siemens, which was suspected of Internet sabotage in 2010. Siemens Chief Executive Joe Kaeser met in Tehran with Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh, who said he was eager to embrace the new post-sanctions era with the German engineering company. “We hope a new chapter will open in cooperation between Iran and Siemens during the post-sanction [period],” the oil minister was quoted as saying by SHANA, the ministry’s news website. Zangeneh said the German energy company could provide compressors and other machinery to the Iranian gas sector with sanctions pressures easing for European companies. The minister said Siemens had blocked delivery of components for Iran’s giant offshore South Pars gas complex […]

EPA asks Volkswagen to make electric cars in U.S.: Welt am Sonntag

22 Feb 2016   Air Quality, Germany, USA

The charging plug of an electric Volkswagen Passat car is pictured at charging station at a VW dealer in Berlin, Germany, February 2, 2016. U.S. authorities have asked the German carmaker Volkswagen ( VOWG_p.DE ) to produce electric vehicles in the United States as a way of making up for its rigging of emission tests, the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently in talks with Volkswagen with the aim of agreeing on a fix for nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles that emit up to 40 times legal pollution limits. The paper, which gave no source for its report, said the EPA was asking VW to produce electric vehicles at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and to help build a network of charging stations for electric vehicles in the United States. Some of Volkswagen’s cars already feature electric or hybrid motors. It was not […]

Beijing Enterprises Expected to Buy German Waste-to-Energy Plants for $2 Billion

4 Feb 2016   China, Germany

China’s Beijing Enterprises Holdings Ltd. has emerged as the front-runner to acquire a German operator of waste-burning power plants from private-equity firm EQT for around €1.8 billion ($2 billion), according to people familiar with the matter. The potential deal would be the latest in a shopping spree by Chinese companies and the largest Chinese acquisition of a German company on record, trumping China National Chemical…

Germany’s Merkel Pledges to Keep Funding Nuclear-Fusion Research

4 Feb 2016   Germany, Nuclear

Angela Merkel prepares to press the button to generate the machine’s first burst of hydrogen plasma. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her government is committed to funding nuclear-fusion research as global energy needs keep growing. “This money is well invested,” Merkel told reporters during a visit to an experimental fusion reactor in the northeastern city of Greifswald, where she pressed a button to generate the machine’s first burst of hydrogen plasma on Wednesday. “Maybe this moment will once be remembered as a milestone in fusion research.” The chancellor, a physicist by training, and about 200 visitors at the Wendelstein 7-X site watched at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics control room as a video screen lit up with a bright flash. Research director Thomas Klinge said the burst was 10 times hotter than the sun. Scientists are seeking to make hydrogen fusion, which uses the atomic reaction that […]

Germany’s Merkel Defends Russian Gas Pipeline Plan

19 Dec 2015   Germany, Pipelines, Russia

German Chancellor Angela Merkel found herself under pressure on Friday from other Europe Union leaders over her government’s support for a natural-gas pipeline from Russia that others fear could further undermine the economic and political stability of Ukraine. The planned expansion of PAO Gazprom’s Nord Stream pipeline, which ships Russian gas via the Baltic Sea to northern Germany, would add an extra 55 billion cubic meters of gas in capacity—about as much as the company currently transports through Ukraine. Officials in Brussels and Washington as well as Kiev have accused Moscow of using the project, dubbed Nord Stream 2, to deprive Ukraine of much of its remaining political leverage as well as much-needed revenues from transit fees. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday called Nord Stream 2 his country’s “greatest concern as of today.” But Ms. Merkel defended the planned pipeline. “I made clear, along with others, that this […]

Rhine water levels set to rise later this week, easing logistics

19 Nov 2015   Climate, Germany

Water levels on the Rhine are likely to rise to above one meter in some places later this week, temporarily easing navigation and enabling oil product importers in Germany and Switzerland to restock, traders said Wednesday. Rhine levels have been low since July, hampering the normal circulation of barges laden with oil products on the river and forcing operators to load less volume than usual by as much as several thousand mt. “We’re expecting big improvements on the Rhine. There’s a lot of rainfall expected this week and over the weekend,” one trader said. “We should see Rhine levels back up to around one meter in some parts, which means you can start loading around 1,200 mt on a barge again.” Water levels at Kaub — a key transit hub along the middle Rhine — will reach one meter by 7:00 local time on Saturday, up from just 57 […]

Record-low water levels on Rhine River are disrupting fuel shipments

18 Nov 2015   Germany

Low water levels on the Rhine River have resulted in transportation disruptions for shipments of petroleum products by barge, which in turn have resulted in record supply disruptions in markets upriver, such as Switzerland and southern Germany, and high stock levels downriver, in the Netherlands and northwestern Germany. The Rhine River, which runs northwest from the Swiss Alps through Switzerland, Germany, France, and the Netherlands, where it flows into the North Sea, is a major petroleum product transportation corridor. The navigable portions of the river connect the major refinery and petroleum trading centers of Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Antwerp in Belgium, collectively known as the ARA, to inland markets. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration Tanker barges carry petroleum products from the ARA upriver to inland bulk distribution terminals that provide petroleum products to nearby areas. Water levels […]

Germany: Russia a key energy partner

14 Oct 2015   Germany, Russia

Russia will remain a key oil and natural gas supplier through its strong connections to the European market, the chairman of Germany’s BASF said. “Our cooperation makes outstanding contribution towards securing energy supplies to Europe,” BASF Chairman Kurt Bock said in a statement. BASF subsidiary Wintershall is a partner to Russian energy company Gazprom in the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline running through the Baltic Sea to the German coast and sending Russian natural gas into the European market. Gazprom in early September signed a shareholder agreement on the development of the second phase of the twin Nord Stream pipeline system in the Baltic Sea with German energy companies BASF and E.ON, French company ENGIE, Austria’s OMV and Royal Dutch Shell. Under the […]

German industrial output posts steepest drop in a year

7 Oct 2015   Germany

German industrial output fell in August at its fastest pace in a year, data from the Economy Ministry showed on Wednesday, suggesting Europe’s largest economy may have lost momentum in the third quarter. Factories produced 1.2 percent fewer goods than in the previous month, the ministry said, blaming some of the weakness on the large number of summer holiday days in the month. It was the strongest fall since August 2014 and missed the Reuters consensus forecast for a rise of 0.2 percent. The output drop followed a sharp decline in August industrial orders data on Tuesday. On a positive note, the July figure was revised up to a 1.2 percent increase from a previously reported rise of 0.7 percent. “German industry is still struggling to gain momentum. Yesterday’s drop in new orders already signaled a note of caution,” said ING economist Carsten Brzeski. “Today’s weak industrial production data […]

Volkswagen Scandal Could Drive Crude Demand, Says EIA Chief

7 Oct 2015   Germany

The recent scandal involving Volkswagen’s diesel engine testing could increase crude oil demand due to higher gasoline consumption, according to Adam Sieminski, administrator for the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Mr. Sieminski reasoned that if more light automobiles switched from diesel, crude demand would grow due to more oil being needed to process gasoline. Gasoline demand is rising especially in U.S. and emerging markets where consumption is growing due to continued low oil prices. EIA data suggests that gasoline consumption in the U.S. increased by 3% during the first half of 2015, compared with the corresponding period of 2014. Gasoline is expected to grow by 210,000 barrels a day in 2015, a rise of 2.3%. Gasoline consumption rose by 80,000 b/d in 2014. China is driving growth from the emerging markets, with consumption hitting 2.7 million b/d in August, a year-on-year rise of 17%. “When oil […]

Volkswagen Scandal Highlights European Stalling on New Emissions Tests

29 Sep 2015   Climate, Germany

European legislators got a jolt this month in their long-running effort to update auto-emissions standards when a German member of the European Parliament suddenly proposed exempting a whole class of vehicles. “This was a huge loophole, and everyone was asking: Where does this idea come from?” recalled Bas Eickhout, a member of the Dutch Green party who sits on the committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. It did not take long to discover the origin of the contentious proposal: Volkswagen Group. What had seemed a proposal by a legislator was in reality the work of the German carmaker. This was just one particularly brazen example of how European automobile manufacturers have for years sought to thwart or […]

Volkswagen CEO Promises Action on Emissions Scandal in Letter

28 Sep 2015   Climate, Germany

He has promised investors and customers a thorough investigation into the emissions cheating scandal that has rocked Europe’s biggest car maker. And in a letter to employees, which was viewed by The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Müller closed ranks with labor representatives, vowing to ensure that such misconduct “never happens again.” “We will be relentless in getting to the bottom of this—fast, open and as decisively as possible,” Mr. Müller and Bernd Osterloh, head of VW’s powerful works council, said in the letter, which is to be sent to employees on Monday. The letter echoes comments Mr. Müller made during his first public appearance after being named CEO of the group on Friday. By sending it together with Mr. Osterloh, the new VW chief is demonstrating his willingness to work closely with labor, a key reason why he was chosen for the job. On Friday, Mr. Müller acknowledged the […]

Europe’s gasoline-heavy refiners see profit in VW scandal

26 Sep 2015   Germany

Some of Europe’s struggling refineries could get an unexpected boost from Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal if once-dominant gasoline regains its popularity. Europe’s refineries, many of which were built in the 1950s to support booming petrol demand, have been hit over the past 20 years by shrinking fuel demand and government incentives that skewed car sales toward diesel engines, which were seen as more efficient and emitted less carbon dioxide. The rise of the diesel car, which accounted for 50 percent of car sales last year, has forced Europe to rely on diesel imports while its refineries struggled to find overseas markets for excess gasoline, which has put heavy pressure on profits and prompted a wave of plant closures in recent years. Volkswagen’s diesel emissions rigging scandal in the United States could reverse the fortunes […]

After Volkswagen Revelation, Auto Emissions Tests Come Under Global Scrutiny

24 Sep 2015   Climate, Germany

The emissions cheating scandal at Volkswagen has initiated a reconsideration of how pollution tests are carried out worldwide. Credit Alexander Koerner/Getty Images In the United States, automakers conduct their own emissions tests and submit the results to the government. In Europe, automakers pick who conducts the tests and where they are done. And these two regulatory systems are considered the world’s gold standards. Questions about the wisdom of allowing automakers so much sway in how air pollution standards are enforced grew on Wednesday after the resignation of Volkswagen’s chief executive , following the company’s diesel emissions cheating scandal . Regulators in several European countries have opened investigations, attorneys general in the United States have joined federal inquiries, and there has been broader criticism of Volkswagen , and diesels, in markets from South Korea to Brazil. Volkswagen has admitted installing software in 11 […]

Volkswagen Emissions Investigations Should Widen to Entire Auto Industry, Officials Say

22 Sep 2015   Germany

Investigations into Volkswagen AG’s alleged manipulation of U.S. emissions tests should widen to include the entire auto industry, German and French officials said Tuesday, as regulators begin to ponder whether such trickery is more widespread. Concerns that the scandal could lead to broader damage for the industry hit the shares of car companies across Europe on Tuesday, with Volkswagen’s stock down another 5% after dropping as much as 20% on Monday. The state of Lower Saxony, a major Volkswagen shareholder with 20% of the car maker’s voting stock, said the emissions allegations raised doubts about tailpipe data published by all car makers. The French government also called for a broader probe, suggesting a European-wide examination of the auto industry. “We need to do it at the European level,” French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said Tuesday. In Germany, Olaf Lies, Lower Saxony’s economy minister and a member of the Volkswagen’s […]

Volkswagen Denied Deception to E.P.A. for Nearly a Year

22 Sep 2015   Germany

For more than a year, Volkswagen executives told the Environmental Protection Agency that discrepancies between the formal air-quality tests on its diesel cars and the much higher pollution levels out on the road were the result of technical issues, not a deliberate attempt to deceive Washington officials. But early this month, Volkswagen executives finally made a startling admission: The diesels it sold in the United States used software deliberately designed to cheat on the tests. The company was evidently concerned that actually meeting the federal emissions standards would degrade the power of the diesels, which it marketed as comparable in performance to gasoline engines. Meeting the standard would also undercut the fuel efficiency that is one of […]

Volkswagen Chief Apologizes for Breach of Trust After Recall

21 Sep 2015   Climate, Germany

 The chief executive of Volkswagen apologized on Sunday for what he said was a breach of trust that resulted in the company’s being accused by the United States authorities of illegally installing software in its diesel-power cars to evade standards for reducing smog. “I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public,” Martin Winterkorn, the chief executive of the German automaker, said in a statement . The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered Volkswagen to recall nearly half a million vehicles, and the company could face billions of dollars in fines. Mr. Winterkorn said the company would “cooperate fully” with the authorities and order its own independent investigation into the accusations. In his statement, […]

Germany braced to receive 800,000 asylum seekers

20 Aug 2015   Germany

Berlin has said it expects to receive a record 800,000 asylum seekers this year, more than the entire EU combined in 2014, laying bare the scale of the biggest refugee crisis to face the continent since the second world war.  If the latest official projection released on Wednesday is borne out, it would be nearly twice as high as Germany’s previous record for asylum claims, set during the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1992.  Interior minister Thomas de Maizière warned that the Schengen zone, which allows passport-free travel across much of mainland Europe, could not be maintained unless EU states agreed to share asylum seekers.  The 800,000 figure — which represents about 1 per cent of Germany’s population and is a sharp increase on an earlier estimate of 450,000 — is one of the starkest signs yet of the extent of the migrant crisis facing Europe, as thousands of refugees fleeing war in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and poverty in Africa stream into the continent.

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Nuclear Plant Closing Reflects Overhaul of German Energy Production

13 Jul 2015   Germany

In one of this country’s most popular novels for young readers, the nuclear reactor on the edge of this Bavarian town melts down, spewing a radioactive cloud that threatens all of Germany and robs a 14-year-old girl of her family and her hope for the future. Last month, that nuclear power plant in Grafenrheinfeld , responsible for meeting the energy needs of industry-heavy Bavaria since 1981, came to a less dramatic but equally symbolic end. The plant became the first active reactor to be decommissioned since 2011, following Chancellor Angela Merkel ’s about-face on nuclear power after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant catastrophe in Japan. Taking Grafenrheinfeld offline is a milestone in Germany’s […]

German Green Power Forces Neighbors to Bolster Blackout Defenses

8 Jul 2015   Germany, Solar, Wind

Chart: German Wind Power Peaks Germany’s drive to harness wind and solar power is producing so much electricity that it’s spilling over into neighbors’ grids and increasing the threat of blackouts. Poland and the Czech Republic are spending $180 million on equipment to protect their systems from German power surges, while Austria is curbing some trading to prevent regional networks from collapsing. On a windy day, the overflow east can exceed the output from four atomic reactors. Germany’s fivefold increase in green energy in the past decade has outpaced investment in power lines to move it across the country. Electricity is looping through Poland and the Czech Republic to reach southern Germany, where supply is constrained as Chancellor Angela Merkel shuts nuclear plants after the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan. The disruptions show the limits to the European Commission’s vision of a single power market. “A huge accumulation of […]