New German coalition agrees to accelerate coal power phase out
After weeks of intense negotiations, Germany’s Social Democrats, Free Democrats, and Green Party this week finalised a coalition deal that will see climate action placed at the heart of the new government’s agenda.
The Social Democrat’s Olaf Scholz is now set to be appointed as Chancellor, bringing to an end 16 years of government led by Angela Merkel.
The coalition agreement promises to deliver a significant strengthening of Germany’s decarbonisation plans, including plans to pull the country’s coal power phase out date forward from 2038 to 2030 and a goal to use two per cent of German territory for wind power.
The deal also features plans to ramp up investment in hydrogen infrastructure, ensure 80 per cent of electricity is sourced from renewables by 2030, and end the sale of internal combustion engine cars and vans by 2035.
The agreement represents a major victory for the Green Party, which secured its best-ever result in September’s election. “We can transform our economy so it becomes climate neutral,” said Party Co-Leader Annalena Baerbock, who is now tipped to become foreign minister in the new government. “We have an agreement where climate neutrality is a common denominator.”
Meanwhile, Baerbock’s co-leader Robert Habeck is expected to become vice-chancellor and will be given a brief of overseeing the country’s planned energy transition.
Biden plans new White House ‘climate and clean tech office’
The Biden administration is reportedly planning to create a new division within the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) that will be dedicated to the development of federal climate change policy.
With the White House’s flagship climate-focused infrastructure bill still awaiting an uncertain fate on Capitol Hill The Washington Post reported this week that the administration will appoint Sally Benson, a professor of energy engineering at Stanford University, to head the new division.In an announcement on Wednesday, the White House confirmed the move and said the OSTP Energy Division is to be focused on planning the transition to renewable energy and delivering on the federal government’s long term goal of net zero emissions by 2050.”We have a 120-year-old energy system that was built over a long time period, and we’re talking about very quickly changing that to a new system,” Benson told The Post. “And this is a huge opportunity for American industry, for American workers, to lead.”
The news came in the same week as the latest data from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) revealed that renewables accounted for for 87.61 per cent of the 19GW of new US power generation capacity added during the first nine months of the year.
Enel ramps up €170bn net zero investment plans
Italian energy giant Enel has become the latest European utility to beef up its clean energy plans in the wake of the COP26 Climate Summit, announcing this week that it intends to invest €170bn this decade in support of a new target to deliver net zero emissions by 2040, 10 years earlier than originally planned.
The company said it was now planning to exit coal power generation by 2027 and gas by 2040, and as such it was accelerating its plans to invest in renewables and energy networks.
Israel and Jordan ink ground-breaking climate agreement
Israel and Jordan have this week signed a new agreement that could see the two countries co-operate to tackle escalating climate threats.
In a landmark deal for the Middle East, which was mediated by the UAE and the US, the two countries have agreed that Jordan will build a new solar farm that will export 600MW of electricity to Israel, while Israel will examine the possibility of exporting 200 million cubic meters of water to Jordan from a designated desalination plant. Further details for the plan are set to be finalised next year.
The agreement was signed at a ceremony in Dubai attended by Israeli Energy Minister Karin Elharrar, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment Mariam Al Mheiri, Jordanian Water Minister Mohammed al Najjar, and US Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry.
Singapore announces carbon capture goals
Singapore is aiming to deliver at least two million tonnes of carbon capture capacity by 2030 as it looks to bolster the green credentials of its giant Jurong Island oil refinery.
The new goal was announced this week by the country’s Economic Development Board, as officials unveiled plans that could see it work with a number of leading oil majors to establish a carbon capture test hub at the Jurong Island site. Reuters reported that both Shell and Exxon have flagged their interest in the project.
The government also announced a new 2030 target for the energy and chemicals sector to more than double the output of sustainable products compared to 2019 levels.
The news came in the same week as Shell announced it has halved its crude processing capacity at its Pulau Bukom hub in Singapore as it looks to ramp up investment in a range of biofuel, plastic processing, and carbon capture projects.
In related news, The Times reported this week that China is ramping up its investment in the carbon capture and storage (CCS) sector with a new report from consultancy BDO detailing how China now accounts for 81 per cent of all new carbon capture patents registered. In second place, the United States produced only 9 per cent of all new carbon capture patents, while Britain accounted for just one per cent of CCS-related patents.
Australia and Germany confirm joint hydrogen funding push
The Australian and German governments have this week announced plans to invest around $90m in a new wave of hydrogen projects as part of their bilateral HySupply hydrogen supply chain initiative.
Germany has committed €50m to the new porgramme with Australia providing A$50m. “The recent release of the first report from HySupply, our joint Australian-German hydrogen supply chain study, found there is great potential for Australian hydrogen to supply growing demand in Germany,” Energy Minister Angus Taylor said in a statement.
The scheme is now expected to start accepting bids for funding through a joint Hydrogen Innovation and Technology Incubator, called HyGate, in the first quarter of 2022.