26 Mar 2018, 00:00
Julian Wettengel

Chinese bid for German grid operator fails

Reuters / Green Party parliamentary group

Belgian transmission system operator Elia will exercise its pre-emptive right to buy a 20 percent stake in German power transmission grid operator 50Hertz for 976.5 million euros, beating the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), reports Reuters. The Chinese company’s interest had been watched critically by German politicians, who feared a sell-out of critical infrastructure. Elia’s purchase “is a strong signal to bring the energy transition forward in Germany as well as in Europe,” said 50Hertz Chief Executive Boris Schucht in a statement. The purchase brings Elia’s ownership in 50Hertz to 80 percent.
Ingrid Nestle, spokesperson for energy economics of the Green party’s parliamentary group, commented that the process showed that the German government lacked the legal instruments needed to prevent the takeover of critical infrastructure by foreign companies. Only talks behind the scenes had convinced Elia to buy the stake. “With a German grid company in place, the federal government would be able to decide about its own grid,” writes Nestle in a statement.  

Read the article in English here, and Elia’s press release in English here, and 50Hertz’s press release in English here.

See the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s power grid and the article Sino-German tandem: Export champions promote global energy transition for background.

Zeit Online

New environment minister Svenja Schulze might be a “stroke of luck” for Germany’s climate policy, because she could narrow the gap between the political camps regarding the country’s coal exit, writes Kurt Stukenberg, co-chief editor of Greenpeace Magazine, in a guest commentary for Zeit Online. Schulze, a 49-year-old Social Democrat, hails from the industrial heartland of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and is a member of the staunchly pro-coal IG BCE mining workers union. An environment minister with an affinity for coal industry interests “is much more suited to moderate the transition than for example a Toni Hofreiter [Green Party Bundestag member] would have been,” writes Stukenberg. 

Read the guest commentary in German here.

For background, read CLEW’s profile on Schulze: New German environment minister faces steep uphill battle on climate.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

The new federal government has to work out a comprehensive concept to secure the German industry’s competitiveness, write Christoph Schmidt and Steffen Elstner of the Rhineland-Westphalia Institute for Economic Research (RWI Essen) in a guest commentary in Süddeutsche Zeitung. A more ambitious and future-oriented economic policy is needed, and the climate-friendly decrease of fossil fuel use could be a high-priority goal – “with the important condition that energy-intensive industries still think it makes sense to invest in Germany,” they write. The coal exit and renewables expansion should not be considered goals in and of themselves, but instruments to reach the higher goal of greenhouse gas reduction. These instruments must be cost effective, write Schmidt and Elstner, adding that costs are an important instrument to coordinate the decisions of companies and private households. Climate and energy provisions in the new coalition agreement, however, “largely continue the expensive and inefficient policy of the past years,” they write. “In the end, there is no way around making energy more expensive to reach the national climate targets.”

Read the guest commentary in German here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier The next German government and the energy transition.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung has published a long article on electricity and heating prosumers (producers and consumers), written by Anna Steiner. There are currently about 1.6 million prosumers in Germany, among them households with solar panels on their rooftop, solar-thermal systems to heat water, wind turbines in the garden, or small cogeneration plants (CHP) in the basement. The article assesses affordability, cost effectiveness, and saving potential.

Read the article in German here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier The People's Energiewende.

German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE) / Econsult / BDEW

Replacing an old fossil-fuelled boiler with a new one saves less energy than often assumed, said the German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE), based on a report published by the consultancy Econsult. Depending on the type of old boiler, 2 to 15 percent energy and CO₂ emissions can be saved, according to the report. Additional savings are possible by upgrading the whole system. “Simply replacing an old fossil-fuelled boiler with a new one is not an effective climate protection measure,” said BEE’s Carsten Pfeiffer. The German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) has criticised the report in a statement, arguing that up to 30 percent CO₂ reduction is possible if the complete system is optimised. “Replacing the boiler is an effective and consumer-friendly way to protect the climate,” said the BDEW.

Find the press release in German here and find the report in German here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and Efficiency.

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
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