Former Merkel advisor joins RWE / Mongols want German lignite
“Head lobbyist of the energy sector goes to RWE”
Hildegard Müller, who was chairwoman at the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) for seven years, will become member of the board of directors at utility RWE. She will likely be in charge of the renewable branch within the company, which has recently announced that it will split conventional from renewable operations, Daniel Wetzel reports in the Die Welt. Before joining the BDEW, Müller was a member of parliament for the Christian Democrats and an advisor to Angela Merkel. Rumours suggest that Müller could be succeeded at BDEW by Stefan Kapferer, former state secretary in the economy ministry, Wetzel says.
“Hildegard Müller – a godsend for RWE”
Hiring Hildegard Müller is good news for RWE as she has skillfully manoeuvred the energy association BDEW through political battles, writes Antje Höning in a commentary for Rheinische Post. But at RWE, Müller has to make sure she is not only used to collect state aid. RWE is looking to dump its nuclear and lignite operations on politicians and taxpayers, Höning argues.
“Trouble about coal again”
The economy minister of eastern German lignite mining state Brandenburg is furious about proposals from energy think tank Agora Energiewende to phase-out coal by 2040, reports Alfons Frese in Tagesspiegel. Social Democrat Albrecht Gerber said the think tank was in no position to question last year’s "climate compromise" on the withdrawal of old lignite plants. He said that as long as the technology to store renewable energy was not available, it was not possible to set an expiry date on lignite. An Agora study argues that Germany can exit coal by 2040 and the government should start to organise the phase-out immediately.
Read the article in German here.
Find the Agora study with a summary in English here.
“German environment hat-trick”
The German government has officially proposed Jochen Flasbarth, state secretary in the environment ministry, to become candidate for the head of the UN environment programme (UNEP) in Nairobi. He would be the third German to take the post, after former environment minister Klaus Töpfer and current UNEP executive director Achim Steiner, klimaretter.info reports. Flasbarth was director of the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) before joining the environment ministry and served as a facilitator in the decisive final days of the Paris climate conference in December 2015.
Read the article in German here.
“Mongols want German brown coal”
Swedish utility Vattenfall, which is looking to sell its German lignite operations this year, faces a complaint from potential buyer Lusatia Mongolia Mining Generation (LMMG), a project developer based in Dresden, the Handelsblatt reports. LMMG had allegedly offered up to 1.85 billion euros for Vattenfall’s lignite business, Jürgen Flauger and Sönke Iwersen write, but was rejected from the buying process in December. Now LMMG, which is backed by investors from Mongolia, has filed a complaint with the European Commission about the lack of transparency in the process and discrimination, the article says.
Read the article in English here (behind paywall).
“The Brake is missing”
It’s obvious and right that the future belongs to renewables, but their expansion is advancing too fast, writes Klaus Stratmann in a commentary in business daily Handelsblatt. Recent data suggests the renewables target for 2025 will be achieved five years earlier, causing great technological problems and high costs for energy-intensive businesses. “The government needs to counteract”, writes Stratmann. He says current reform plans, involving the transition to tenders, do not go far enough. “The Grand Coalition will have to think of additional ways to get the rising costs for renewable support under control.”