Energy minister wants round table on coal, unions demand commission

Federal Ministry for Energy and Economic Affairs (BMWi)

Gabriel says wants round table on future of coal

Germany’s energy minister Sigmar Gabriel has said he wants to establish a round table on the future of coal in the country of the Energiewende this year. “I have resolved to do this, instead of letting things slide,” Gabriel said on Tuesday at the Handelsblatt energy conference. “We have to make sure that we have this debate with all parties involved.”
Gabriel said all stakeholders required a long-term perspective on this issue that could be developed at these discussions, which should incorporate those who want to protect the climate, but also many others, including representatives from the power sector. But Gabriel also said he was sceptical of grand masterplans for 2050, because these were often mainly determined by ideology rather than factual debate.

Please note: CLEW will publish an article on Gabriel's remarks in the afternoon.

Read the CLEW article "coal exit proposal reveals fault lines in energy debate" here.

 

Frankfurter Rundschau

“German unions demand commission for energy transition”

DGB, the umbrella association for German unions, is calling for a new commission to come up with a plan for a socially sustainable reduction of lignite coal, writes Joachim Wille in the Frankfurter Rundschau. The commission would propose ways to pursue the goals of the Energiewende in a socially and economically acceptable manner, he writes. Stefan Körzell, a member of the executive board of the DGB, told the newspaper that there must be “a fair transition” for the lignite coal-mining regions of Lusatia and the Lower Rhine, after the Paris decision to cap global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. The commission should include representatives from politics, business, unions, academia, environmental groups and others, according to the article.

 

Handelsblatt

“A difficult process”

It is likely that the last coal power plant in North-Rhine Westphalia will go offline around the year 2050 when lignite mining will come to an end, Hannelore Kraft, North-Rhine Westphalia’s state premier told the Handelsblatt in an interview. But Kraft does not believe that planning a coal exit in the next 25 years is necessary - unlike the federal environment ministry and the Green Party. It would be very theoretical to develop a plan without knowing how much storage capacity for renewable power was necessary and how much it will cost, she said. Nevertheless, North-Rhine Westphalia was thinking hard about the future of lignite in the state and how structural ruptures and unemployment could be avoided.

 

Handelsblatt Global Edition

“Uniper Boss: Coal Has a Future”

Looking at Uniper - E.ON’s new fossil power spin-off company – only through an Energiewende lense was falling short, Klaus Schäfer, CEO of Uniper, told the Handelsblatt in an interview. The company includes the wholesale natural gas business and global energy trading as well as hydro power in Germany and Sweden, Schäfer said. Fossil power plants would be needed in the future to accompany power generation from renewables, Schäfer believes. He is also “firmly convinced” that Germany will have a capacity market for power in the future. “The electricity market is no longer supplying the necessary price signals,” he said.

Read the interview in English here (behind paywall).

Read a CLEW factsheet about the government's proposal for a new power market design here.

 

Süddeutsche Zeitung

“Little helpers for the Energiewende”

Small-scale power storage units will play a big role in capturing energy for future use as more renewable energy is produced in the coming years, writes Benjamin von Brackel. To fill the gaps in wind and solar power, and after network operators discarded more renewable energy in 2014 than in the previous four years put together, storage is taking centre stage, he writes. But large-scale units are taking a back seat to technologies like CO2-eating microorganisms used in power-to-gas technology, mini-pump-storage units or battery power-plants.

Read the article in German here.

Read a CLEW factsheet on Technologies of the Energiewende here.  

 

Der Tagesspiegel

“Prague’s star investor vies for Vattenfall”

Czech investor Daniel Kretinsky’s company EPH is eyeing Vattenfall’s lignite operations in Lusatia, as part of a broad expansion that would make it a major player among European energy suppliers, writes Kilian Kirchgeßner in Der Tagesspiegel. A spokesman for the company told the newspaper that EPH is “prepared to seek an acceptable compromise between the German government’s Energiewende goals and the interests of the region and workers”. The company already has holdings in 40 groups in Europe, according to the article. Kretinsky is betting that he can buy such holding from companies at bargain prices because of their uncertain future due to the shift to renewable energies, Kirchgeßner writes. But he is also betting that the energy transition will take longer than anticipated.

Read the article in German here.

Read a CLEW factsheet on Vattenfall’s lignite assets in Germany here.

 

Süddeutsche Zeitung

“In fear of the dead calm”

The coalition government wanted to develop the cheapest renewables but the SPD and CDU are now fighting about the expansion targets for the coming years, writes Michael Bauchmüller in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The SPD-led Energy Ministry wants to stick to the target of 45 percent renewables by 2025, but members of the CDU are arguing that a 40 percent share would suffice, otherwise the grid expansion would be unable to keep track with the renewable growth. With offshore wind development already fixed at 15 gigawatt by 2030, the allowed growth of onshore wind – the cheapest of all renewables – could be limited, Bauchmüller writes. Some governments in the Bundesländer are already calling for a 50 percent increase in the onshore wind target.

Read the article in German here.

 

 

WirtschaftsWoche / PwC

“Power companies lack innovation”

Power companies are trusted by the German population but they are not cashing in on this, writes Angela Hennersdorf in the WirtschaftsWoche. A consumer poll by consultancy Oliver Wyman, seen by the WirtschaftsWoche, comes to the conclusion that Germans would be interested in combination services of phones, internet, entertainment and power as well as smart grid solutions, solar power and battery packages from their power supplier. However, most suppliers are not able to implement new digital consumer services at the moment, Hennersdorf writes. But they are realising how important a digital strategy is and, under pressure from Google and digital start-ups, they want to invest more money into digitalisation, a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) shows. Some 58 percent of conventional power suppliers are feeling pressured by the new competitors, the PwC poll showed. And 72 percent want to increase their investment into digitalisation in the next two years.

Read the article in German here.

Read the PwC study in German here.

 

PV Magazine

"SMA targets high-voltage batteries like Tesla Powerwall with new inverter"

The Hesse-based company SMA Solar Technology AG has developed a new storage product to take advantage of worldwide growth in solar battery systems, according to website PV Magazine. The “Sunny Boy Storage” technology is specially designed to work with high-voltage batteries like Tesla Powerwall, the company says, according to the article. It provides a “cheap, simple and flexible connection of the system into new or existing facilities”, the magazine quotes CEO Pierre-Pascal Urbon as saying. The first products will hit the market in Germany in March, followed by Italy, the UK, Australia and the US, PV magazine writes.

Read the article in German here.

 

Die Welt

“Federal agency declares fracking harmless”

A study by the Hanover-based Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) has determined that fracking technology is far less dangerous than previously thought, writes Daniel Wetzel in Die Welt. “Drinking water protection and fracking are compatible,” Wetzel quotes the study as saying. The German government has until now only approved limited test drilling for shale gas through so-called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, because of objections by environmental groups, he writes.

Read the article in German here.

Read the BGR study in German here.

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