First partial permit for Nord Stream 2/ Bosch defends diesel tax break
Authorities in the German city of Stralsund have issued the first partial permit for construction of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project, public broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) reports. The local mining authority licensed construction along a 35-kilometre stretch in German waters of the Baltic Sea, project developer Nord Stream told the NDR. Environmental organisation WWF is examining whether an objection to the project, which is meant to transport natural gas from Russia to Germany, is admissible, as it remains unclear whether there is sufficient EU-wide demand for natural gas, the article says. Nord Stream plans to begin construction of the 1,200-kilometre pipeline by spring next year, although licenses from other riparian states, such as Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, are still missing. The project is highly controversial, as several eastern European countries say the pipeline is meant to bypass them as transit countries.
Read the article in German here.
See the CLEW factsheet Germany’s dependence on imported fossil fuels for more information.
The controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which would connect Russia with Germany via the Baltic Sea, is affected by intense lobbying, especially by former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, a personal friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Christian Schweppe and Adrian Arab write in Die Welt. Documents seen by the newspaper suggest that Germany’s government has been “extraordinarily open” towards companies interested in joining the “very lucrative” 1,200-kilometre natural gas pipeline project under the aegis of Russian company Gazprom, the authors say. Chancellor Angela Merkel met representatives of involved companies on at least three occasions, officially to discuss “energy and climate policy”, while the German foreign minister held at least 16 meetings dedicated to the project, including talks with Gazprom head Alexey Miller. “It is remarkable how open the doors of German politicians have been for that company in particular”, Arab and Schweppe write.
Find the article in German here (behind paywall).
Bosch, the world’s largest auto parts supplier, has rejected a suggestion by Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller that diesel tax incentives could be cut to subsidise green mobility. Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner told the business daily Handelsblatt that this would “accelerate a development that would be difficult for large parts of the automotive industry to cope with”. He added: “The transition to electromobility takes time and investment. We will certainly need 10 years to manage the transformation process”. Bosch employs 50,000 people in diesel technology, according to the article.
Read the interview in English here.
Find plenty of background in the dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.
The energy transition will mainly play out in power grids in the years to come, according to E.ON CEO Johannes Teyssen. In an interview with the business magazine Wirtschaftswoche, he said grids were his company’s most important business, which also offered the greatest potential. Grids would “find an entirely new technical basis in the years to come. Power grids will become digital. Distribution grids that transport power on a regional level will become the internet of the energy transition”.
Find the interview in German (behind paywall) here.
For background, read the dossiers Digitalisation ignites new phase in energy transition and Battered utilities take on start-ups in innovation race.
The bid by Danish energy supplier Ørsted, formerly known as Dong, to build offshore wind farms in German waters without guaranteed remuneration is a “giant strategic bet” that is going to be profitable, Ørsted CEO Henrik Poulsen says in an interview with Handelsblatt. “We’ve thought this through and we’ve never built a wind farm that burns money”, Poulsen says, adding that the zero-support farm “will bring us a nice return”. Poulsen says all renewable energy projects eventually will have to be operated without support, and this could be achieved more easily “if there’s a reasonable price for CO2” that allows for a fair comparison with fossil energy projects. “Green power is cheaper than fossil power – by a wide margin. This no longer is a close race”, Poulsen argues.
Read the article in German here (behind paywall).
See the CLEW factsheet High hopes and concerns over onshore wind power auctions for more information.
The German government’s criticism of job cuts in Siemens’ fossil power generation business, and its rejection of VW’s call to cut diesel subsidies, reveal that it still believes that an outdated status quo could be preserved in the face of the “next industrial revolution”, writes Miriam Meckel in a commentary in the Wirtschaftswoche. “Of course, it would be nice if Siemens didn’t need to cut jobs. And, of course, it would be great if the diesel cars could stay on the road forever, without polluting the cities and without being overtaken by e-cars from China and the US. But delusions are not reality.” She concludes: “We’re only at the beginning. But Germany still prefers to subsidise the past, rather than the future”.
Find the commentary in German (behind paywall) here.