'Europe needs more industry' / RWE dividend cut hits German towns

Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)

"Gabriel: Europe needs more industry”

Europe’s aim to increase the share of manufacturing in gross domestic product (GDP) to 20 percent by 2020 should be given the same priority as the goal to reduce CO2 emissions by 20 percent by that date, according to Germany’s energy minister Sigmar Gabriel. “It’s obvious that manufacturing can only guarantee wealth and economic success if it is competitive – not only in Europe, but on a global scale,” Gabriel said at a high-level industry conference in Berlin, according to a press release by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).
A declaration by the “Future of Industry” alliance, which was initiated by the BMWi, industry association BDI and the industrial union of metalworkers (IG Metall), said energy and climate policy should take more consideration of international agreements. “The EU and its member states must lobby to make the Paris Agreement binding on a global scale, to avoid carbon leakage in Europe, which would eventually also translate into job and investment leakage.” The future design of the European Emissions Trading System (ETS) must make allowances for industry’s growth opportunities, according to the declaration, which is aimed at informing European industrial policy.

See a CLEW dossier on industrial competitiveness in the energy transition here.

 

Handelsblatt / Reuters / dpa

“RWE cuts dividend – ‘This exceeds my worst nightmares’”

RWE’s announcement of 2.1 billion euros in impairments on its power plants and plans to cut the dividend to shareholders for 2015, will likely hit cities and districts who are invested in the large utility hard, writes the Handelsblatt. The city treasurer of west German town of Essen called it his “worst nightmare”, with the city facing 18 million euros of lost earnings. RWE’s shares dropped by up to 10.6 percent to 10.55 euro yesterday. A trader said that RWE cutting the dividend was “a disastrous” sign. Most investors had expected reduced dividend payments, but not a complete cut.

Read the article in German here.

 

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“Collateral damage”

RWE’s cutting of dividend payments is leading to collateral damage in towns and communities in the Rhine region already short millions of euros to pay for child care or accommodating refugees, writes Helmut Bünder in an op-ed for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The government commission pondering the question of how much utilities should pay towards the high costs of the nuclear clean-up should bear this in mind when they make their recommendation at the end of the month, Bünder says.

Read the op-ed in German here.

Read a CLEW factsheet on securing utility payments for the nuclear clean-up here.

 

Handelsblatt

“The bill please!”

City treasurers in North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW) should thank politicians in Berlin for losing their dividends from RWE shares, writes Dieter Fockenbrock in a commentary for the Handelsblatt. The German government's energy policy has destroyed RWE’s business model, he says. RWE’s impairments on their conventional power plants are the direct result of the transition to renewable energies – wanted by the government, Fockenbrock writes. RWE CEO Peter Terium does what’s necessary in his position - it would be irresponsible to pay out dividends when the company needs all its reserves to pay for the planned transition. City shareholders in NRW have made around 4 billion euros in dividends from RWE in the past decade – now they must realise that investors can’t always expect such returns, Fockenbrock writes. 

Read a CLEW dossier on the utilities and the Energiewende here.

 

Reuters

Federal government locks horns with EU over industry power surcharge

Germany and the EU commission again disagree over the exemption of German industrial consumers from paying the renewable surcharge on power, Markus Wacket reports for Reuters. The EU is calling for the exemption to be reduced, while the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in Berlin defends the industry privilege, saying extra costs for businesses would amount to 760 million euros annually if the exemption was partially reduced. This would lead to “massive, unwanted structural ruptures and further de-industrialisation” the ministry said in a letter to the EU Commission seen by Reuters. The EU Commission has asked for a higher proportion of the renewables surcharge to be paid on power produced by big companies in their own power stations. But the ministry argues this would place a burden on the most efficient combined heat and power plants. The German government doesn’t consider the exemptions to be illegal state aid and says they are necessary to ensure the competitiveness of German manufacturing.

Read the article in English here.

Read a CLEW factsheet on industry power prices in Germany here.

 

Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

New way of calculating industry power price privileges

The government is in the final stages of issuing a new regulation (which doesn’t need parliamentary approval) to change the way power costs for industry companies are calculated, the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) has said. The calculation is important for defining whether companies will be eligible for exemptions from the renewable energy surcharge, payable on power bills. In the future, the decision will be based on the average power price paid by energy intensive industries with similar electricity demand, rather than the actual power bill of a company.

Read the press release in German here.

 

Die Welt

“EEG not compatible with constitution”

Germany’s Renewable Energy Act (EEG) is not compatible with the country’s constitution, according to a law professor from the Berlin Humboldt University, Die Welt reports. Professor Hans-Peter Schintowski says the EEG surcharge payable by all power consumers on their electricity bills and used to fund renewable electricity production, is in breach of the free European power market. The only legal way to initiate payments to renewables would be through a tax, Schintowski concludes.

Read the article in German here.

Read the legal expertise in German here and here.

Read a CLEW factsheet on the defining features of the EEG here.

 

IW Köln

“Climate protection works different”

A state-decreed coal exit in Germany would not be beneficial to the climate, an article in the newsletter of the Cologne Institute for Economic Research says. Suggestions for a German coal phase-out by 2040 (e.g. by think tank Agora Energiewende) fail to see that Europe already has a mechanism to reduce emissions by the middle of the century – the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). If Germany produces less CO2 from coal-fired power plants, this doesn’t save any emissions on a European level, because they will be emitted elsewhere due to excess emission allowances, the article says.

Read the article in German here.

 

Energytransition.de / Renewables International

“Low oil prices hit German pellet giant”

German Pellets, formerly the world's largest wood pellet producer, has filed for insolvency citing low oil prices as one reason for its demise, writes Craig Morris in a blog post on energytransition.de. This is not the main reason for the company's downfall, Morris explains. But the pellet heater and pellet fuel business has indeed been hit by low prices for oil and gas and the mild winters of the past two years. Fortunately, the German legislator has just made it harder to install new oil-fired heating in households, Morris writes.

Read the blog-post in English here and an earlier entry on Renewables International here.

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