Fossil utilities top renewables in govt contacts / Coal mining curse
Large utilities mainly operating fossil power plants have had much more top-level contacts with government than the renewable industry, reports left-wing newspaper tageszeitung (taz). Since October 2014, RWE has held 40 talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel, ministers, or state secretaries, according to data provided by the economics ministry. Rival E.ON had 41 such contacts, of which four were with the chancellor. Germany’s largest wind power company Enercon had only two talks with ministers, and one with a state secretary. The Left Party said the “obvious favouritism” influenced government policy, slowing down the Energiewende, and delaying a coal exit.
Read the article in German here.
The misery of fossil utilities means lignite mines and power plants no longer ensure regional prosperity, writes Jeffrey Michel in a blog post for energytransition.de. The situation in eastern German lignite mining region Lusatia is particularly dramatic after Swedish utility Vattenfall sold lignite mines and the associated power plants, because towns had to return taxes to the Swedish utility. “Retroactive payments of well over 100 million euros have been reported by local newspapers. The total trade taxes returned to Vattenfall are likely much greater,” according to Michel.
Read the blog post in English here.
For background, read the CLEW factsheets When will Germany finally ditch coal? and Coal in Germany.
Vattenfall’s business clients can use their roofs to produce solar energy without having to invest into the construction of the array, according to a company press release. The Swedish utility will pay for the construction and maintenance of the system and rent it out. Companies have to pay fewer levies on self-generated power, thus lowering their electricity bills.
Find the press release in German here.
The energy transition is one of the world’s largest modernisation and investment projects, and intensive research will remain key to the endeavour, writes Germany’s economy and energy minister Brigitte Zypries in a guest commentary in newspaper Tagesspiegel. “For this path, we need new technologies – probably even technologies we can’t even imagine today. This can only succeed with an intensification of research and development,” writes Zypries. She said the government’s energy research programme last year spent almost 900 million euros on 4,600 projects.
Read the commentary in German here.