Commentators welcome nuclear deal, trash e-car subsidies
“A bird in the hand”
The proposed fund for nuclear storage costs is in breach of some fundamental principles, writes Michael Bauchmüller in an op-ed for the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Nuclear utilities can absolve themselves of the responsibility of their waste by paying 23.3 billion euros into the fund. And the taxpayer will have to foot the bill if this money is not enough to pay for the nuclear clean-up. But seeing that the large utilities may not be around long enough to fulfil their nuclear obligations anyway, the commission on financing the nuclear clean-up has decided that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, Bauchmüller says.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
“Nuclear obligations – fairly distributed”
What the nuclear commission suggests is that if the decommissioning and deconstruction of old nuclear power plants gets more expensive, the utilities have to pay for it. But if storage of radioactive waste costs more than is covered by the fund, the tax-payer has to pay. This is a fair distribution, says Alexander Mihm in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Little is known about the actual design of the state-administered nuclear storage fund. Here the state itself poses a large risk – will it take care of the billions in the pot or will it use the money for other purposes?, Mihm asks.
“The principle of a cap”
Why did the share price of utilities rise sharply after it was proposed that they should pay around 6 billion euros in risk surcharge into a nuclear storage fund? The explanation is easy, writes Michael Braun in an op-ed for the General Anzeiger: Investors had thought that storage costs would be much higher and that the liability of the utilities for the nuclear waste would last much longer. The principle of a cap was important to investors.
The nuclear commission has found a good consensus solution, writes Klaus Stratmann in the Handelsblatt. The nuclear utilities should now follow the recommendations because they had ample opportunity to present their views and concerns in the meetings of the commission. It is out of the question that the big four utilities are suffering as never before but the risk surcharge that they have been asked to pay is moderate enough and would allow them to shake off the unlimited responsibility for nuclear waste storage.
Read the article in German (behind paywall) here.
“Better than nothing”
It is likely that the nuclear commission’s unanimous suggestions will pass through the legislative process unchanged, writes Dagmar Dehmer in an op-ed of the Tagesspiegel. There is broad support for the recommendations from different parts of industry and society, even if the utilities do not agree. Their only means then would be to challenge the new legislation in the court - but the arguments that they have given throughout the debate in the commission have not been very convincing. The consensus is better than nothing for both the utilities and the tax-payer.
Read the op-ed in German here.
“Rotten nuclear deal”
The state is trying to secure some money from the utilities with the nuclear storage fund. But it is already foreseeable that the 23 billion euros plus interest in the fund will not be enough, writes Joachim Wille in an op-ed for the Frankfurter Rundschau. The deal would also partially annul the ‘polluter pays’ principle. This would be a scandal because those utilities that are now on the brink of bankruptcy used to make huge earnings with nuclear power.
Read the op-ed in German here.
“Reward for Dieselgate”
Manfred Kriener criticises the e-mobility support plans in die tageszeitung and calls the federal government the “bedside rug of the auto companies”. “The biggest punchline in this game is that this guild receives buyer’s premiums as a reward at exactly the time when it stands as a criminal association that intentionally and on a large scale deceived customers, the administration and the public for years and smoked out the environment and the climate.”
Read the opinion piece in German here.
“Subsidies also for fuel guzzlers”
The subsidies will not only be used to finance e-mobility, as most of the total sum of 1.2 billion euros for buyer's premiums will probably be spent on plug-in e-cars, writes Frank-Thomas Wenzel in an opinion piece in Berliner Zeitung. “These are mostly highly-motorised models that easily consume ten litres or more per 100 kilometres on the Autobahn.”
“Manufacturers of company car fleets can be pleased”
Car manufacturers will hardly notice paying their share of the buyer’s premium for new electric cars, as no customer pays the full list price anyway, writes Frankfurter Rundschau. This was particularly true “because the plug-in cars are very expensive anyway and yield large margins”.
Read the article in German here.
Read a CLEW article on the government plans here.
Find a CLEW dossier on the energy transition and Germany's transport sector here.
“A daring striptease”
The detailed financial report on major utility E.ON’s fossil spin-off Uniper makes for sobering reading, as the company would have lost billions of euros in the past three years, writes Jürgen Flauger in business daily Handelsblatt. “The large coal and gas power plants Uniper takes over are increasingly pushed out of the market by wind and solar energy.”
In a separate commentary on the report, Flauger argues that the company will only have a long-term future with help from the government. Future power prices are so low that Uniper’s core business, its European power generation, will remain stuck in trouble, according to Flauger. But public help for the company may well come too late.
Read the CLEW dossier on the utilities' fight for survival here.
Power consumption unchanged at the start of the year
German electricity consumption remained at last year’s level in the first three months of the year, according to utility association BDEW. Unadjusted for the number of days, power consumption rose 1.1 percent to 147 billion kilowatt hours (KWh) in the first quarter. But adjusted for the leap day (29 February), Germany used the same amount of electricity.
Natural gas consumption rose six percent compared to last year, to 316 billion KWh. This was mainly due to colder temperatures, and also to the leap day, according to BDEW.
Find the press release in German here.