Germany second in global green energy race

Germany has outpaced the United States as the number two player in clean energy while China keeps racing ahead as the world's green investment leader, a study said Tuesday.

Germany second in global green energy race
Photo: DPA

The survey by the Pew Charitable Trusts found strong growth on a global scale for solar, wind and other renewable energy, although one major exception was Britain, which saw a sharp decline after a new government took charge.

“What we believe it all comes down to, frankly, is policy,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director of the Pew Clean Energy Program.

“Germany and China have ambitious renewable energy standards and, certainly in the case of Germany, they also have a feed-in tariff that’s really helped them,” she said, referring to incentive payments to produce green power.

China, which a year earlier topped the United States as the green leader, saw no stop to its growth. Clean energy investment reached $54.4 billion in 2010, up 39 percent from the previous year, the Pew report said.

The study estimated that China – which is fighting severe pollution and its dubious distinction as the top producer of carbon emissions blamed for climate change – now produces nearly half of the world’s wind and solar modules.

Germany’s clean energy investment doubled to $41.2 billion, bringing the country to second place, the study said. Germany ramped up both solar and wind power – especially small solar projects that added up when viewed together.

Despite slipping to third, the United States still enjoyed 51 percent growth in clean energy investment, the study said. The United States plays a leading role in innovation and capital for green energy, but lags behind in manufacturing, the study said.

The survey also reported a more than doubling of investment in clean energy both in Italy, which came in fourth overall, and Australia, which ranked 12th.

But Britain witnessed a 70 percent decline in clean energy investment, slipping out of the top 10, as businesses hesitated at offshore wind projects after Prime Minister David Cameron took over with a mission to trim spending.

“Certainly the coalition government has given investors a signal that things are uncertain and that’s the way investors reacted,” Cuttino said.

Indonesia and South Korea also saw declines in clean energy investment, although the study’s authors said it was possible the nations would rebound due to their policy directions.

In Japan, where clean energy industry consists almost exclusively of solar, investment rose a modest 10 percent but Cuttino predicted future growth as the world’s third largest economy has set ambitious goals over the next decade.

The research was conducted before Japan’s devastating March 11 earthquake, which set off a crisis at a nuclear plant that has brought new scrutiny worldwide to atomic energy.

The United States experienced growth in clean energy even though efforts led by President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party to mandate cuts in carbon emissions died last year in Congress.

The Obama administration has hoped to find common ground with the rival Republican Party to encourage clean energy without focusing on climate change itself – an issue that is deeply controversial in Congress.

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu said last week that he expected wind and solar energy to become cost competitive with new oil and gas projects by the end of the decade.

Former governor Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat of Michigan, said companies that invested in her economically hard-hit state in the 18 months to December were projected to create 63,000 green jobs.

“That’s not chump change,” she said at a Pew event.

“We have a choice as Americans – we can decide that we’re going to take advantage and get into the game of this huge growth, or we can do what we’ve been doing.”


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German government announces fresh relief package for high energy costs

With Russia's invasion in Ukraine exacerbating high energy and petrol prices, Germany is set to introduce a second relief package to limit the impact on consumers.

German government announces fresh relief package for high energy costs

The additional package of measures was announced by Economy and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) on Sunday.

Speaking to DPA, Habeck said the wave of price increases throughout the energy sector were becoming increasingly difficult for households to bear.

“Extremely high heating costs, extremely high electricity prices, and extremely high fuel prices are putting a strain on households, and the lower the income, the more so,” he said. “The German government will therefore launch another relief package.”

The costs of heating and electricity have hit record highs in the past few months due to post-pandemic supply issues. 

This dramatic rise in prices has already prompted the government to introduce a range of measures to ease the burden on households, including abolishing the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) levy earlier than planned, offering grants to low-income households and increasing the commuter allowance. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What Germany’s relief package against rising prices means for you

But since Russia invaded neighbouring Ukraine on February 24th, the attack has been driving up energy prices further, Habeck explained.

He added that fears of supply shortages and speculation on the market were currently making the situation worse. 

How will the package work?

When defining the new relief measures, the Economics Ministry will use three criteria, Habeck revealed. 

Firstly, the measures must span all areas of the energy market, including heating costs, electricity and mobility. 

Heating is the area where households are under the most pressure. The ministry estimates that the gas bill for an average family in an unrenovated one-family house will rise by about €2,000 this year. 

Secondly, the package should include measures to help save energy, such as reducing car emissions or replacing gas heating systems.

Thirdly, market-based incentives should be used to ensure that people who use less energy also have lower costs. 

“The government will now put together the entire package quickly and constructively in a working process,” said Habeck.

Fuel subsidy

The three-point plan outlined by the Green Party politician are not the only relief proposals being considered by the government.

According to reports in German daily Bild, Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FPD) is allegedly considering introducing a state fuel subsidy for car drivers.

The amount of the subsidy – which hasn’t yet been defined – would be deducted from a driver’s bill when paying at the petrol station. 

The operator of the petrol station would then have to submit the receipts to the tax authorities later in order to claim the money back. 

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, fuel prices have risen dramatically in Germany: diesel has gone up by around 66 cents per litre, while a litre of E10 has gone up by around 45 cents.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The everyday products getting more expensive in Germany

As well as support for consumers, the government is currently working on a credit assistance programme to assist German companies that have been hit hard by the EU sanctions against Russia.

As reported by Bild on Saturday, bridging aid is also being discussed for companies that can no longer manage the sharp rise in raw material prices.

In addition, an extension of the shorter working hours (Kurzarbeit) scheme beyond June 30th is allegedly being examined, as well as a further increase in the commuter allowance.