11 Mar 2016, 00:00
Kerstine Appunn Ellen Thalman

The future of nuclear power / Low bidders for Vattenfall lignite ops?

Ministry for Environment

“5 years after Fukushima: Nuclear power has no future”

The nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima five years ago showed that atomic power was never 100 percent controllable, Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks said in a press release. Its remains also burden the generations that follow, she said. “To me it is clear: nuclear power does not have a future. It will not prevail globally because with renewable energies we have by now found clean and competitive alternatives,” she said. Despite the German nuclear phase-out, the lights had stayed on, she added. Hendricks will travel to Fukushima in May 2016, the environment ministry announced.

Read the press release in German here.

Read a CLEW overview about Germany’s nuclear phase-out five years after Fukushima here.


Die Welt

“What came after Fukushima”

Ministers, think tanks and NGOs are these days all connecting the German energy transition to the nuclear catastrophe of Fukushima five years ago – as if one had to do with the other, writes Daniel Wetzel in a commentary for Die Welt. Fukushima has not triggered or accelerated the German Energiewende. The construction of solar power plants had reached its record of 7.5-gigawatt annual additional power already in 2010 and wind power growth was mainly influenced by feed-in tariffs. The support for renewables started much earlier in Germany, in 1990 and in 2000 and the rejection of nuclear power was already at the top of people's minds after Chernobyl. The main target of the energy transition is not to replace nuclear power but to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Wetzel points out. When Merkel announced the shut-down of nuclear power stations after Fukushima, this was actually a setback for this endeavour because largely CO2-free nuclear power was substituted by more coal power, the author writes.

Read the article in German here.



“A lot of water in the wine”

Five years after Fukushima, the energy transition is not a clear success story, writes Klaus Stratmann in an op-ed for the Handelsblatt. The share of renewables has increased to 30 percent in power generation, this was a “sensational” value that ten years ago people would have considered an illusion. At the same time – thanks to increased political pressure - costs for renewable power have fallen considerably, Stratmann says. Still this doesn’t mean that the energy transition can be used as a blueprint in other industrialised countries, the author says. Germany hasn’t solved the problem of integrating an oversupply of renewable energy into the system, as the necessary expansion of the power grid is lagging behind, he argues.


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“Nuclear phase-out? No thanks”

The nuclear power station in Grohnde, Germany has since Febrary held the world record for producing the most nuclear power in a single plant: 350 billion kilowatt-hours, writes Andreas Mihm in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. After Fukushima, the world didn’t follow Germany’s example to phase-out nuclear energy – today 443 reactors are connected to the grid globally, while five years ago there were 442, Mihm writes. In Germany, nuclear power is not contributing 23 percent to German power consumption anymore, but 16 percent. But in many countries nuclear power is an important pillar of the power supply, particularly in Europe. And China has large nuclear expansion plans, he says. “For many states, the German nuclear exit pathway is not an acceptable scenario,” the author says.


Cologne Institute for Economic Research

“Interim result with lights and shadows”

Only part of the German energy transition is heading the right way, the Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW-Köln) says. The researchers looked at seven aspects of the transition to an economy based on renewable energies and found that Germany will only reach the target of a 35 percent share of renewables in the power mix. Keeping down costs for the transition in the electricity sector, efficiency measures, reduction of overall power consumption, the grid expansion and particularly greenhouse-gas reduction were all far from on track, the study says.

Download the study in German here.

Read a CLEW story about the last monitoring report of the Energiewende here.



“Vattenfall digs in vain”

Companies that have expressed an interest in buying Swedish utility Vattenfall’s lignite operations in Germany aren’t revealing their bidding prices, but Jürgen Flauger and Klaus Stratmann of the Handelsblatt cite “sources among potential buyers” as saying that only the hydropower units were worth a price at all. The lignite mining and power plant operations are “worthless,” considering current market conditions, they cite sources as saying. Earlier in the year, Greenpeace had said it would be interested in the lignite mining operations, but only if Vattenfall paid them to shut them down – an offer Vattenfall did not take seriously, according to the article. Bidders must give their offers to the investment bank Citigroup by 16 March, Flauger and Stratmann write. Sources inside the power producer Steag said the company will not even make a binding offer, the paper says. Vattenfall is considering alternatives, the authors write. This could be creating a foundation for the assets, or pulling out of a sale altogether, they say.

Read a Reuters report in English here.

Read a CLEW factsheet on the Vattenfall coal exit here.



“Study: Environment and trade: Do stricter environmental policies hurt export competitiveness?“

Putting stricter environmental policies in place does not affect overall manufacturing trade, but rather “tilts the comparative advantage away from pollution-intensive industries,” the OECD says in a new study. This gives “cleaner” industries an advantage. Less strict policies tilt the advantages in the opposite direction, but “the effects are small compared to overall trade developments,” the OECD says. The study looked at 23 advanced and six emerging economies. Germany ranked 10th for the stringency of its policies, with neighbours Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland and France outranking it. Poland came in 11th.

Find the study here.

Read a CLEW dossier on competitiveness and the Energiewende here.


Die Welt

“Survey: Greater demand for hybrids than for e-cars”

If there were no conventional cars to be had anymore, German new car buyers would prefer to buy a classic hybrid car, like a Toyota Prius or a Kia Niro over a plug-in hybrid or a purely battery-driven electric car, according to a survey by market researcher DAT. Forty-one percent of those asked wanted a hybrid, 24 percent a plug-in and 22 percent a purely electric car. Used car buyers, on the other hand, were more inclined to buy e-cars.

Read the article in German here.

Read a CLEW factsheet about e-mobility here.

Read a CLEW dossier about transport here.


Bavaria / Thuringia / Rhineland-Palatinate

3 states present auction model for bioenergy

Bavaria, Thuringia and Rhineland-Palatinate have suggested to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy that auctions should also be used to determine payments to bioenergy plants. The ministry is planning to introduce auctions for wind and solar power in a reform to the Renewable Energy Act this summer – so far biogas plants are excluded from auctions. But the three states fear that without auctions many biomass plants would be shut down before 2020 because they have no incentive to modernise and invest in flexibility options. Their model would give them a clear economic perspective.

Read the states’ press release in German here.

Read a CLEW factsheet on federalism and the Energiewende here.

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