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Germany’s green recovery centres on hydrogen and EVs

Germany has unveiled plans for what is at present one of the world’s greenest stimulus packages as it bids to restart its economy after the pandemic.

The country’s government has earmarked some €40bn of its €130bn recovery fund for climate-linked measures, including enhancements to public transport and the energy efficiency of buildings.

Lawmakers notably resisted calls from the auto industry to bring in a scrappage scheme that would provide grants for traditional petrol and diesel vehicles. Instead, the government has doubled its subsidy for electric vehicles to €6,000. Under its stimulus plan, Germany will spend a total of €2.2bn incentivising electric vehicles and helping its powerful automotive sector to decarbonise.

‘After France, now Germany is pointing the way forward with massive investments in electric cars, recharging infrastructure and railways,’ said Stef Cornelis, Germany Director with the sustainable transport NGO T&E. ‘This is exactly what’s needed to support jobs and help us emerge stronger and greener from the COVID crisis. The plan isn’t perfect but it should be a wake-up call for the Commission and other European countries ahead of the all-important decision on the EU’s €750bn recovery and resilience fund.’

The country has also earmarked €7bn for investing in hydrogen technologies and infrastructure, as well as allocating €5bn for the greening of state railway company Deutsche Bahn. Electric vehicle recharging infrastructure will receive a €2.5bn cash injection and home energy efficiency measures will receive a €2bn investment.

Just days before the recovery package was unveiled, Germany’s government attracted the ire of environmentalists as the Datteln 4 coal-fired power station commenced operation. The 1,050 MW plant, owned by power utility Uniper, fired up on 30 May amidst protests. The €1.7bn facility was granted an exemption for the country’s plan to exit coal by 2038 after the company argued that it should shutter old capacity with high CO2 emissions to clear the way for state-of-the-art Datteln to operate into the 2030s.

The plant was originally meant to start producing power in 2011, but it was delayed by debates over its climate impact and damages to its boiler during testing.

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