Altmaier announces abolition of the EEG surcharge

Berlin Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU) has announced further reductions in electricity prices. “My goal is for us to gradually lower the EEG surcharge over the next five years and finally abolish it entirely,” said Altmaier on Thursday at the Handelsblatt Energy Summit. The acronym EEG stands for the Renewable Energy Sources Act, which was introduced 20 years ago to promote green electricity.

After months of struggle, the coalition passed a reform in December, but failed to clarify important points. A new expansion target for renewable energies by 2030 that meets the new EU climate targets is still open. The question of how much electricity Germany will probably need in 2030 is also open.

Encouragement for Altmaier’s plan to phase out the EEG funding comes from the energy sector: “The EEG has been incredibly successful with its 20-year history, but the system of the levy and levy system makes competitiveness difficult,” said Kerstin Andreae, Chair of the Federal Association of German Energy and Water Industries.

EnBW boss Frank Mastiaux is also expecting a lot from a further EEG reform: “The problems have been identified”, now it depends on the implementation, said the manager at the energy summit. Above all, the expansion of wind and solar systems must increase significantly, “otherwise we will not achieve our climate goals”.

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Green leader Annalena Baerbock, however, expressed skepticism. First of all, the competitive conditions for renewables would have to improve. This also includes a reasonable CO2 price. According to the plan, this should initially amount to 25 euros per ton from 2021 and gradually increase to 55 euros per ton by 2025. That is not enough for Baerbock, she calls for a significantly higher CO2 price and a climate neutrality pact between business and politics.

Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier and Greens boss Annalena Baerbock are something like regular guests at the annual Handelsblatt Energy Summit. The focus is on your messages – not least because the first black-green ocoalition at federal level could be initiated next autumn after the federal elections.

While the two politicians agree that ‧ those companies will be left behind that do not take the issue of climate neutrality so seriously, but they are far apart on other issues.

“If we electrify everything, not just the transport sector, but also industry, then of course we have a much higher power requirement than we currently have or it was the case five years ago,” said Baerbock at the Handelsblatt Energy Summit , which took place purely virtually this year due to the corona pandemic. “That is why the amounts of expansion that Mr. Altmaier has submitted are definitely not sufficient.” She accuses the Federal Minister of Economics of “calculating”.

With his announcement that the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) will expire in the foreseeable future, the CDU politician is likely to meet with a lot of approval from large parts of the economy and society. Because the EEG, which was introduced to promote electricity generation from renewable energy sources such as sun and wind and once made Germany a pioneer in the field of energy transition, has cost consumers and companies a three-digit billion sum over the years.

Thanks to government support, there were more wind turbines and solar systems in Germany for a long time than in any other country in the world. In the meantime, however, the former pioneer is more in the lower middle field than in the top positions in a global comparison.

The expansion of wind and solar power is only progressing slowly, while electricity costs continue to rise due to the EEG surcharge. With the new climate targets from Brussels, the costs of the energy transition should also go up even further. “We have to guarantee that energy is affordable, even if renewables become the main source of electricity and energy,” said Altmaier on Thursday.

Altmaier wants planning security

In 2020, the grand coalition decided in the economic stimulus package to cap the EEG surcharge for 2021 and 2022 via budget funds and the CO2 price for fossil fuels that has just been introduced in the building and transport sector, in order to ease the burden on electricity prices. Altmaier said at the energy summit that he would like to continue this relief in order to create planning security. “If someone makes investments as a medium-sized company, then he would like to know whether he can still pay for the electricity in ten years,” said the minister in a video link. “That’s why we need this clarity.”

When it comes to electricity prices for medium-sized companies, industry and households, Germany should “return to the means of the European convoy,” said Altmaier. “The acceptance of electricity prices is an important prerequisite for the energy transition and climate protection to succeed.”

Handelsblatt Energy Summit 2021

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier (right) in conversation with Handelsblatt editor-in-chief Sebastian Matthes.

Altmaier received direct support for his initiative from the energy sector itself. “The EEG was designed to successfully implement a market ramp-up. Now we need a market-driven solution, ”said Stefan Dohler, head of the north German energy supplier EWE. The head of the Oldenburg company sees this in the so-called “Contract for Differences” (CfD) model, which is already being used in Great Britain and other countries. With the CfD system, the price is capped upwards and downwards. The operator is covered if the stock exchange prices fall below the limit, but the profits are also capped and transferred to the state if they are significantly higher.

In view of a similar discussion, the Federal Ministry of Economics had already shown itself to be rather critical of the model with regard to offshore wind power. Instead, Altmaier relies on direct purchase agreements between producers and consumers, so-called Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), which guarantee a fixed purchase price over several years.

Since the costs of solar and wind power have fallen massively, PPAs have been concluded more and more frequently, often without any additional remuneration from the state. “Yes, there has been fighting over the past few years between those who believed they could or should stop the train, those who argued for a reasonable pace, and those who weren’t fast enough,” said Altmaier. Now everyone would know that if you “don’t march ahead when converting to a fossil-free world, you will end up being caught up and rolled over”.

How much green electricity does Germany need?

However, there is still one point that the Minister of Economic Affairs cannot ignore: How much green electricity does Germany really need to achieve its climate targets by 2030 and beyond? Like the Greens leader Baerbock, a possible candidate for Chancellor of the Greens in the upcoming federal election, other experts also warn that the federal government is setting the required amount far too low.

Electric cars, heat pumps and also low-carbon industrial production will drive up the demand for electricity dramatically. EWI experts estimate gross electricity consumption in 2030 to be up to 748 terawatt hours (TWh). The federal government, on the other hand, has so far anticipated a significantly lower demand for electricity.

“We will solve that in the first quarter,” announced Altmaier. With around 45 percent, Germany has achieved the highest share of renewable electricity to date. Alternative energies would have a meaning that they had not previously had. Germany wants to become climate neutral by 2050. Altmaier committed to a 100 percent supply of Germany with wind, solar and co. The intermediate step is a share of 65 percent by 2030.

“I am convinced that we will have German electricity production climate-neutral by 2040,” said Altmaier. At the same time, he was convinced that the share of 65 percent renewable energies will not only be met by 2030, but will probably be exceeded. If the expansion continues so slowly, however, it will be difficult.

Green politician Baerbock therefore calls for “to pack a solar system on every roof”, that is, solar compulsory for new buildings. The public sector, according to Baerbock, could start right away so that “we can finally make progress with the expansion of renewable energies”.


Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) also declared the 65 percent share of renewable energies by 2030 to be outdated at the Handelsblatt Energy Summit on Wednesday. The reason is the new EU climate target that the EU heads of government agreed on in December. Greenhouse gas emissions in the EU will probably have to fall by at least 55 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2030. A final agreement between the Council of Ministers, the EU Parliament and the Commission is still pending. The previous plan was 40 percent.

What this means in concrete terms for Germany is still unclear. The EU climate target does not apply across the board to all member states, at least at the moment: As part of the burden sharing within the EU, each state receives its own target value, which is essentially based on the performance of the respective country. So far, Germany has had an obligation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2030.

Economy Minister Altmaier openly expressed himself in favor of an increase on Thursday. The “friends” of the CDU had spoken out in favor of an increase to 60 percent. “I expressly support that.” He sees momentum not only in the energy transition in Germany, but globally in protecting the climate. The new US administration under Joe Biden is “an opportunity for all of us”.

When asked about a possible black-green coalition after the federal election in autumn, Altmaier said he warned against assuming that the coalition partners had already been decided. Baer‧bock declared that she was fighting for a higher CO2 price, but not for black and green as an automatism. The Union, she said, was always lagging behind. “That’s why we Greens want to get into the lead position.”

More from the Handelsblatt Energy Summit: Whether the climate-neutral restructuring of the economy will succeed will be decided in the next ten years.


China is increasingly decoupling from the global economy

Beijing, Berlin, Düsseldorf Mostly once a year, China’s head of state and party leader Xi Jinping gives a speech to high-ranking ministry and provincial leaders at the Central University of the Communist Party, which sets the course for the year. But this time it had a special meaning. Because the five-year plan is currently being finalized, which should set the course for the economy in the People’s Republic from March to 2025.

Foreign company representatives may not have liked what Xi said behind closed doors earlier this week. “The most essential feature of building a new development pattern is to achieve a high level of self-sufficiency and self-improvement,” says Xi. ”

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Corona emergency aid: The nerves in Berlin are blank

AIn the end he is said to have apologized for the harsh tone. But at first the sub-department head from Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) could not contain himself. The MPs acted as if they and the public had not been informed about changes in the corona aid rules, the experienced official rumbled.

That something could still change was already stated in a joint press release by the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF) and the Federal Ministry of Economics (BMWi) at the end of November.

Once in a rage, he also pointed out to the members of the finance committee that at the specialist level in the ministries had been working tirelessly for weeks to find the best possible solution for companies – the weekends were wasted in a row. Following the first purely digital meeting of this body, several members of the Bundestag reported it.

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The amazement about the performance was great. The CDU MP Olav Gutting tweeted during the closed session: “In the #Finance Committee we are currently experiencing an incredible arrogance of the #BMF.” The minister announced generous aid in November, and now the ministry has declared that those in need should have known that the European aid rules limit that.

The appearance of the Scholz official shows how cold the nerves are now on all levels after the many months of Corona. Not only with the affected entrepreneurs, many of whom are still waiting in vain for the promised aid from the state, but also with the officials who have to legally implement what their ministers decide at the highest government level.

“There was an error”

Most recently, a subsequent addition to the FAQs, the questions and answers on the BMWi website, caused frustration among potential recipients of help and their tax advisors.

Accordingly, the conditions for corona-related corporate aid have been changed as part of bridging aid II, which, unlike the November or December aid, is not about lost sales, but about the reimbursement of operational fixed costs. These ongoing expenses are now only reimbursed if the company can actually demonstrate a loss. The EU Commission insisted on this.

also read

Payment of November aid is delayed due to an embarrassment

“Technical problems”

This may be taken for granted, as SPD finance committee member Lothar Binding says. “Who would have guessed that the state would support companies that are still making a profit during the crisis?”

But he also finds it “really annoying”, as he says, that, contrary to what ministers Olaf Scholz and Peter Altmaier (CDU) have repeatedly promised, the money does not reach the company quickly and unbureaucratically. “It was a mistake to make it seem like everything was going very quickly,” says Binding.

A subsequent change in the small print, which means that “80 percent to 90 percent of all applications for bridging aid have to be tackled again”, as the President of the German Association of Tax Advisors WELT said, wants the words “Bazooka” and “Wumms” coined by Scholz “Doesn’t quite fit.

Fear of re-election

Altmaier’s Ministry of Economic Affairs clearly misjudged the programming of the payout platform for November aid. It wasn’t finished fast enough that the first regular payouts can only be made now.

Now, depending on the party book of the MP you ask, sometimes the SPD minister, sometimes the CDU minister, is the main culprit for the delays. Whereby these differences are becoming increasingly blurred. It can be observed that patience with both ministers is decreasing.

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“The Bundestag has made a lot of money available to the government, so we can simply expect that they will bring this money to the streets,” says Fritz Güntzler, who sits on the CDU’s finance committee. He is a tax advisor himself.

In the past few weeks, more and more clients – not infrequently CDU voters – have called him and vented their anger about the poor implementation of the aid. Obviously, there is growing concern among the members of the governing parties that the mess of aid will reduce their chances of re-election in the autumn.

also read

Closed due to Corona: According to economists, the aid for affected companies is not distributed fairly

State support

Opposition politicians are now also having very fundamental thoughts. “The coalition must now provide clarity quickly, otherwise not only will confidence in the economic aid dwindle, but in the corona measures as a whole,” says financial politician Danyal Bayaz of the Greens.

When asked about the appearance of the sub-department head in front of the finance committee, Fabio De Masi from the Left Party shows understanding that everyone is under enormous pressure – including in the ministries. “But while we are sitting in warm office, companies are fighting for their existence,” he says. It is already becoming apparent that it will not be easier to keep your nerve.


Mega project aims to bring green hydrogen to Germany

Photovoltaic system near Toledo

According to their own statements, the initiators of “HyDeal” have already secured locations for photovoltaic systems in Spain with an output of ten gigawatts.

(Photo: Agency Bilderberg)

Berlin Without climate-neutral hydrogen, the steel and chemical industries cannot master the path to climate neutrality. But climate-neutral hydrogen has so far only been available in homeopathic doses at high prices. Politics and business agree that this must change quickly.

The “HyDeal” project aims to make a significant contribution to this. The aim is to bring large quantities of green hydrogen from Spain to customers in Spain, France and Germany at competitive prices.

“There is a specific investment project behind ‘HyDeal’, with which we want to build up the entire value chain for the production of green hydrogen on a large scale. It starts with photovoltaic systems, goes through electrolysers and ends with the first large Anker customers in industry and the energy sector, ”Thierry Lepercq told Handelsblatt.

Lepercq was a manager at the French energy company Engie and has been active in the solar industry for many years. He is the main initiator of the project.

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Corona aid Germany: economy frustrated by crisis policy

Closed café in Duisburg

Anyone who wants to apply for Corona aid ends up in bureaucratic chaos.

(Photo: fotofinder)

Berlin The emails speak of pure frustration. Like many of her colleagues, she works to “absolute exhaustion” to save businesses like the favorite pizzeria around the corner, writes a tax advisor. But politics make life difficult for her.

The federal government “secretly” changed the access conditions for corona aid in December, and many applications are now wrong. “This drives our profession crazy,” continues the financial expert and comes up with a harsh verdict: “Everything that is politically suggested, namely that all companies affected by the lockdown are helped quickly and unbureaucratically, is completely reduced to absurdity.”

The Handelsblatt editorial team has received many e-mails like this since the turn of the year. Entrepreneurs and tax consultants no longer only complain about the stagnant payment, but also about small but decisive changes in the conditions for application assistance, which change the amount of assistance or even completely exclude many companies from state support. There is chaos and perplexity that grow more and more into anger, so the tenor.

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Hydrogen will soon be possible on an industrial scale

Project in Lingen

BP and Orsted have entered the industrial production of green hydrogen.

(Photo: obs)

Berlin The production of green hydrogen on an industrial scale should not be long in coming: The aim of the “H2 Global” initiative funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics is to get the go-ahead for the first projects this year. The “H2 Global” concept should be ready by the end of March, implemented quickly according to the ideas of its initiators and deliver the first results in 2021.

There is considerable interest in business. According to the initiators, around 30 companies and associations were represented at a constituent meeting of the “H2 Global” initiative in December. Including the energy group Uniper, plant manufacturers such as Siemens, MAN Energy Solutions, Neumann & Esser as well as the steel manufacturer Salzgitter, the gas pipeline operator Ontras, but also companies in the financial sector, including Deutsche Bank and Munich Re.

The spectrum represents the entire value chain: from hydrogen electrolysis and transport to large industrial consumers.

Green hydrogen: from manufacture to industrial scale

The initiators want to create a “short-term economic market entry” in international projects for the production of green hydrogen, including the import to Germany. The initiators are convinced that “H2 Global” could start the first round of tenders in the third quarter of 2021. An award should then take place this year if possible.

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How China shapes the whole world with its own technology standards

Beijing, Berlin The speech that then US President Bill Clinton gave in March 2000 to students at Johns Hopkins University on China politics was a product of its time: full of confidence, borne by the boom in the new economy and a firm belief in the inexorable advance of the liberal democracy. Clinton spoke about how the internet will change China. “In the new century, cell phones and modems will spread freedom,” he said.

The new century is now 20 years old, and it turned Clinton’s expectations upside down. The Internet has not changed China in terms of liberal values, but China is changing the Internet. The battle for supremacy in the digital world is in full swing.

China’s vision for future technologies is diametrically different from the democratic-liberal ideas that Clinton associated with the Internet. It is the vision of an authoritarian state that leaves no room for civil rights and claims control of private data. A state that forbids criticism and extols its repressive system of rule as a development model.

The Chinese government is working to spread its vision of the digital world internationally. The key word is standardization, i.e. the creation of technical standards that are used by companies.

“Five years ago China was still a standard user,” says Betty Xu, envoy for the European standardization organizations in Beijing. “But in the past five years, China has started to export its own standards.”

A recent report by the US Chamber of Commerce to Congress said that China is actively increasing its influence in international technical standardization and has identified standards as a key area for projecting economic power in the world.

It is only superficially about technical details such as the shape of power plugs, the compatibility of car charging stations or the communication between machines. In fact, it is about whose companies have advantages in the end: “Whoever determines the rules of the game ensures that he always wins,” says Tyson Barker, technology expert at the German Society for Foreign Policy (DGAP).

The geopolitical power struggle between the USA, China and Europe is therefore also carried out in the field of standard-setting. At the same time, there is competition between systems, because technologies are not value-neutral – they often spread a basic ethical-political orientation.

For a long time it was the libertarian-capitalist mix of values ​​in Silicon Valley that set the rules of the digital world. But China’s tech firms are increasingly able to take on the US giants. And become messengers of an alternative understanding of values.

For example with the automatic recognition of voices and faces. Chinese companies such as Hikvision or Dahua Technology are leaders in the field of real-time identification of people using artificial intelligence. They benefit from massive support from the communist leadership, which has already rolled out a close-knit network of surveillance cameras in the cities.

Face recognition on a smartphone

China has already largely created facts, especially when it comes to facial recognition.

(Photo: AP)

While strict rules or even a ban on technology are being discussed in Europe, Beijing is uninhibitedly using its possibilities for its own purposes. And promotes export to other countries: According to a study by the foreign trade agency Germany Trade and Invest, Chinese video surveillance systems are used at 34 Indian airports.

Beijing’s calculation: If the domestic manufacturers manage to occupy the market first, the management can also dictate the technical fundamentals together with them. “If you are a technological leader and define the standards first, you also anchor your values,” says Tim Rühlig, an expert at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs in Stockholm.

The Chinese government is more powerful than Europe and the USA. In contrast to the European and American systems, standard-setting in China is primarily state-controlled. With the “China Standards 2035” initiative launched in 2018, Beijing has set itself the goal of setting industry standards worldwide.

Experts see the plan as a continuation of the controversial “Made in China 2025” strategy. This should make Chinese companies global market leaders in ten key technologies. The standardization project has a very high priority for the Chinese government: According to the Chinese standardization authority National Standardization Administration, standardization is to become part of the 14th five-year plan. In the plan, China’s leadership sets the direction of the world’s second largest economy for the period from 2021 to 2025.

China’s influence on the 6G network

One step further on the way to its destination is China in the latest cellular technology. The proportion of Chinese patents that are necessary to comply with standards has risen from around ten percent for 4G to around a third for 5G, says Rühlig. “If this trend continues, China could have a greater impact on 6G technology than any country has ever had on cellular technology.”

The leadership in Beijing is proceeding very strategically: It has given domestic companies such as Huawei and ZTE massive financial support in order to become leaders in the new generation of mobile communications, and at the same time created a huge market for them: While in Europe only the existing 4G As networks are upgraded, the government is investing billions in building an entirely new 5G network in the country. At the same time, the technological position was cemented by means of patents and standards; Beijing is providing targeted financial incentives for this.

The leadership is using the growing economic weight of China and its financial strength to determine the international rules of the game. This approach is not new – China has copied it from the West.

Chinese factory

While Western standards have so far determined global production processes, China is attacking this supremacy.

(Photo: dpa)

So far, Europe and the USA in particular have set the global standards. Its representatives dominate the committees of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) or the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). German experts in particular are disproportionately represented there, also because of the strength of the domestic industry. But China has significantly expanded its influence in recent years.

The EU and the USA now want to counter this together. The change in power in Washington opens up the opportunity for this. The EU has already proposed a Joint Council on Trade and Technology to US President-elect Joe Biden “to set regulations and standards that will be replicated around the world”. According to the Federal Ministry of Economics, transatlantic coordination is particularly important for a high-tech and export nation like Germany.

A project that has met with great interest in America. A group of experts led by foreign policy expert Nicholas Burns has just presented an agenda for cooperation with the EU on China policy. One of the most important projects: the establishment of a “transatlantic technology forum”, which aims to establish “global standards for the protection of privacy, competition, transparency and fairness”.

Economy builds on economies of scale through uniformity

The EU and the USA could therefore make a fresh attempt to coordinate more closely on the regulation and standard-setting of particularly new technologies. The first, extremely ambitious attempt to achieve this had failed with the TTIP free trade agreement. The approaches on both sides of the Atlantic were too different, the uneasiness in the population was too great – keyword chlorinated chickens. Ironically, it was only through the TTIP negotiations that Beijing fully realized the importance of standards, says Rühlig.

Uniform standards worldwide are important for the economy in order to achieve economies of scale. “Internationally uniform technological standards are of great importance for German machine and plant manufacturers,” says Claudia Barkowsky, representative of the Association of German Machine and Plant Manufacturers (VDMA) in Beijing. “They simplify the integration and dissemination of technologies, while configurations for individual markets are very expensive.”

Take smartphones, for example: It wasn’t long ago that European cell phones didn’t work in the US, American ones didn’t work in Europe. Today Apple can sell the same iPhone everywhere, whether in Denver, Düsseldorf or Delhi. That lowers the unit costs. In addition: The companies that have developed the standard also have a lead in time over those that have yet to adapt to the standard.

However, Beijing does not only want to enforce its standards in the world through technological progress. China also uses the controversial New Silk Road as the means of choice. With success, as can be seen from the example of trains. “Because China is exporting trains to countries in Africa as part of the Belt and Road strategy, these countries have adopted Chinese standards,” says EU expert Xu.

Beijing is working to further expand its influence along the former trade route. The Chinese government is currently discussing the establishment of a new regional standardization forum as part of the initiative with the participating countries, reports Rühlig. “This forum should challenge the existing international system and at the same time serve as a coordination platform to expand Beijing’s influence in the international standardization organizations.”

More: In five years’ time, all Bosch products should be equipped with artificial intelligence. The Stuttgart-based company is campaigning for ethical standards.


These countries could become suppliers

Atacama Desert

Nowhere are the conditions for electricity production using photovoltaics better. At the same time, the Atacama Desert is the center of lithium production.

(Photo: Reuters)

Berlin Green hydrogen is considered to be the “champagne of the energy transition”: it is scarce and in demand. It is produced using electricity from renewable sources through electrolysis. But because in a densely populated industrial country like Germany the areas for building wind farms and photovoltaic systems are limited, partner countries are in demand – with plenty of space, lots of sun and wind.

The quantities of green hydrogen that Germany will have to import from abroad are enormous. Experts estimate that Germany will be able to cover a maximum of 30 percent of its demand with hydrogen electrolysis at home. The rest must be imported from abroad.

The establishment of hydrogen partnerships is therefore a central component of the National Hydrogen Strategy adopted by the Federal Government in June. The stimulus package, which was also passed in June, has two billion euros available for building hydrogen partnerships.

“Green hydrogen is the energy carrier of the future. But access to green hydrogen is already highly competitive. As an innovation country, we now have to look for suitable international partnerships, ”says Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek (CDU).

“This is the only way we can secure the necessary import of sustainably generated energy and open the doors to German companies to sales markets for hydrogen technologies ‘made in Germany’ at an early stage,” added the minister.

Some industries, such as steel and chemicals, will have to rely on using green hydrogen in just a few years to become climate-neutral. There are also no alternatives to climate-neutral hydrogen in heavy haulage and air traffic.

Here is a selection of countries that can be considered as production locations:

Ukraine: The lines for transporting the hydrogen have already been laid

Andreas Kuhlmann, head of the German Energy Agency (dena), is convinced that Ukraine is a promising candidate for a hydrogen partnership. “We see great potential in Ukraine for building a green hydrogen economy,” says Kuhlmann. There are actors from different areas who want to get involved.

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SME representative attacks conservationists for stopping clearing

Tesla construction site

Starting next summer, the factory in Grünheide will initially build 500,000 vehicles per year.

(Photo: Reuters)

Berlin The resistance of conservationists to the clearing of a forest area of ​​the planned Tesla car factory in Brandenburg causes great resentment. “Unfortunately, what Tesla and Elon Musk experience in terms of resistance from environmental activists is the daily practice of thousands of medium-sized and family-owned companies in Germany,” said the Federal Government’s SME Commissioner, Thomas Bareiß (CDU), the Handelsblatt. Rapid implementation of investment projects is therefore not only necessary for Tesla.

“For us, the acceleration of investments and a proportionate and sensible integration of environmental and species protection are still at the top of the agenda,” emphasized the parliamentary state secretary in the Federal Ministry of Economics. The federal government has already got a lot going. “But I am convinced that if we want to remain competitive, we have to become faster and more investment-friendly,” warned Bareiß.

The background to this is a decision by the Higher Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg (OVG), according to which the US electric car manufacturer is still not allowed to clear any forest areas on parts of its construction site in Grünheide. The court partially granted a complaint by the nature conservation associations Nabu and the Green League on Friday.

The conservationists had appealed to the OVG against a decision by the Frankfurt (Oder) administrative court, which had previously approved the felling of the trees. The OVG now prohibited clearing measures “in the edge areas of the areas intended for deforestation” with the indication that wintering sand lizards there would probably not survive the clearing.

The President of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Marcel Fratzscher, also expressed criticism. “The Tesla case shows that even the courts do not agree and there are no reliable rules,” Fratzscher told the Handelsblatt.

“That makes reliable planning impossible and will drive even more companies out of Germany in the future, not just foreign but also German companies.” Therefore, “an urgent need to reduce bureaucracy and reform planning and building law in order to stop the resulting damage “.


Nabu and the Green League defend themselves against criticism

The FDP also responded with criticism. Tesla boss Elon Musk is not allowed to “get a blank check or billions in subsidies,” said the vice-head of the FDP parliamentary group, Michael Theurer, to the Handelsblatt. “But he needs a fair chance without political disruptions.”

The nature conservation associations defended themselves against criticism. “The associations are not concerned with preventing a large investor from settling here, but rather with making it clear that the global climate and species crisis are equally important,” said Christiane Schröder, Managing Director of Nabu Brandenburg, on Saturday. Climate and species protection must be thought about and promoted together. “It’s not just about speed, but also about prudence and forward planning,” said Schröder.

“The decision of the court leads to a turning point that all those involved should use to find new ways of dealing with our natural foundations of life and togetherness,” demanded Michael Ganschow, Managing Director of the Brandenburg Green League. “According to the decision of the Higher Administrative Court, parts of the planned clearing must either be dispensed with or an exception under species protection law must be examined,” said Ganschow. Then Tesla would have to improve its preventive and replacement measures.

“The environmental associations not only have the right but also the duty to uncover grievances and to have procedures that are problematic under nature conservation law examined,” emphasized Thorsten Deppner, specialist attorney for administrative law and an expert in environmental law. “This is part of their statutory duties.”

The nature conservation associations are not the cause of the problem, they merely point out the necessities and the legal framework. “My clients are happy to contribute their know-how and, among other things, have made it clear during the public hearing that they are interested in a constructive cooperation,” Deppner continued.

Tesla still has some nature conservation challenges to overcome in the course of the upcoming construction work. In order to be able to do this in a targeted manner, greater reliability in planning and much more transparency than before are necessary, according to the nature conservation associations.

20 hectares affected

An area of ​​around 20 hectares is affected by the decision of the OVG, as the lawyer for the associations explained. In this context, the FDP politician Theurer also expressed criticism of the Greens federal chairman Annalena Baerbock, who is running in Potsdam as a direct candidate of her party for the federal election.

He urged Baerbock to “move their party friends and sympathizers of the Green League to understand and to give in,” said the FDP politician. The Tesla project is an “industrial political lighthouse” that should not be “destroyed by ideological blinders and driven out of the country”. “Anyone who preaches electric cars on Sunday may not demonstrate against the construction of a battery factory on Monday,” warned Theurer.

Fratzscher said clear rules and legal frameworks are important for economic success and prosperity. Rules should apply to both large and small companies. The “biggest economic problem in Germany” is the “excessive bureaucracy and the lack of reliability of the rules”.

At the moment, however, Tesla is not allowed to clear the land anyway because the US automaker has not yet deposited a security deposit of 100 million euros required by the authorities for any dismantling costs. So far, Tesla has been building through individual provisional approvals; the final environmental approval from the state of Brandenburg is still pending.


According to the Brandenburg state government, a decision on the permit application can be expected soon. He is assuming that the decision will come at the beginning of the year, said Economics Minister Jörg Steinbach (SPD) of the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”. As far as it knows, Tesla is sticking to its production start schedule.

Starting next summer, the factory in Grünheide will initially build 500,000 vehicles per year. According to the plan, around 7,000 employees will work in the latest Tesla Gigafactory from summer onwards. In a possible fourth expansion stage, up to 40,000 employees should be able to find work there.

In the spring, an area of ​​around 90 hectares had already been cleared; In December, the deforestation started for another 82.8 hectares. Of these, 20 hectares are now closed.

“The animals don’t make it easy for the planners,” said lawyer Deppner. However, proper handling of species protection is essential. “Tesla cannot pretend that there are no longer any strictly protected species.” The company now has to ask itself whether it can do without clearing or whether it wants to apply for a special permit under species protection law.

More: Authority stops construction work on the Tesla site in Grünheide