11 Dec 2015 | Ruby Russell, Ellen Thalman

Buying way out of nuclear cleanup / "Fear of car-driving voters"

WirtschaftsWoche

"Utilities could buy their way out of nuclear responsibilities for 49 billion euros”

WirtschaftsWoche reports on a study from the German Nuclear Power Commission proposing two alternative models to secure the cost of nuclear decommissioning. The first model, writes Angela Hennersdorf, would see the 38 billion euros of provisions for cleanup and storage made available by power plant operators transferred to state-administered fund. The second model under discussion would mean only around 20 billion in provisions must be made available, exclusively for the storage of nuclear waste, while the dismantling of the power stations would remain the responsibility of the operators. However, the article says, because the 38 billion euros in provisions may not be enough, under the first model operators would have to make some 10 billion-euro risk premium available in addition – with which they could buy their way out of any further responsibilities for decommissioning. The Commission is to propose a plan to cover the costs by February 2016, Hennersdorf writes.

See the article in German here.

See CLEW’s factsheet on paying for the nuclear phase-out here.

 

Süddeustche Zeitung

“How Germany can switch to 100 percent renewable power”

Germany could cover its electricity needs without a single tonne of carbon emissions by 2050, according to a study by German Academy of Sciences. This would require a complex network of wind turbines, solar power plants, biogas plants and hydrogen-storage, but the costs would not be sky-high, writes Christopher Schrader in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. According to the study, there are different paths to achieving the goal, but the costs for each are similar – resulting in a wholesale power price of around 6 cents per kilowatt-hour – more than the current power price but less than that required to sustain the operation of conventional power plants. The power price could be reduced by 1.5 cents if the goal was lowered to cutting emissions by 90 percent, the article says. All scenarios based the power supply on wind and photovoltaic power. Most also required more gas-powered capacity, which should be designed to switch to using biogas, hydrogen or synthetic methane, which have a lower carbon footprint than natural gas. But public acceptance of required measures such as building power lines across the Alps to import thermal solar power from the Mediterranean and the use of carbon capture and storage poses obstacles to the plan, Schrader writes.

See the article in German here.

See the study in German here.

 

Handelsblatt

“Free game with climate protection”

Few countries are willing to agree to climate protection commitments that dictate by which means they achieve emissions-cutting goals, write Susanne Dröge of the German Insitute for International and Security Affairs and Karsten Neuhoff of the DIW German Institute for Economic Research in a guest commentary in the Handelsblatt. Countries fear economic consequences and international influence on national politics, but this doesn’t mean they don’t want to participate at all, write Dröge and Neuhoff. Indeed, countries have recognised the importance of an effective climate and energy policy, “in order to keep up with the global competition for innovative markets, growth and development.” The authors point out many areas in which different national policies have led to advances through the “logic of the markets." Just because countries cannot agree on a global mechanism for setting CO2 prices, does not mean CO2 prices are off the table. Instead, countries will likely pursue such systems on a national level.

Read the article in German here.

 

Die Welt

“Driving without climate worries”

With a 20 percent share of total CO2 emissions in Germany, there is tremendous potential for climate protection measures in the transport sector, but German environmental policymakers are doing little to achieve this, writes Daniel Wetzel in Die Welt. This is due to “fear of car-driving voters,” he says. Instead of focusing on setting emissions limits for manufacturers’ fleets and trying to push electric cars, Wetzel says extending emissions trading to the transport sector could be an interesting and easy way to cut emissions in the sector. This could be done by making petrol stations buy CO2 certificates for every litre of fuel they sell, the price for which would be passed on to consumers at the pump – costing around 2 cents per litre, he writes. Although many scientists and policy experts say this would be an easy and viable step toward cutting emissions in transport, environmental groups are sceptical about its effectiveness, he says.

 

New York Times

“California and Germany, Opposites With a Common Energy Goal”

Writing for the New York Times, Melissa Eddy compares the transformation of the German and California energy systems.  Germany she says, “ is determined to lead an energy transformation through carefully drafted laws and regulations” while California “is driven by an inventive spirit of boundary-pushing and experimentation”. But both aim to cover a third of their energy generation with renewables by 2025 and to cut carbon emissions to 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050, both are looking to green the transportation sector, “in which they share a love of fast, gasoline- or diesel-powered cars.”

See the article in English here.

 

Dow Jones Newswires

“Position paper/Nine states challenge the 2016 renewable energy act reform”

A front is gathering in Germany’s upper house of parliament  against the government’s planned 2016 reform of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG), which will replace the current subsidy system for renewables with an auction system in 2017, according to a report by Dow Jones Newswires. Nine German states criticise the economics ministry plans in a position paper, saying the reform will thwart the Energiewende. Criticism the states mainly critcise the expansion path for onshore windpower, saying the plans would slow the development. Critics want to do away with the capping of windpower expansion at 2.0 gigawatts (GW) from 2.5 GW if the total share of renewables in gross power production reaches 45 percent by 2025.

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