Gabriel rejects commission with exclusive focus on coal exit
Germany's economy minister Sigmar Gabriel said he will not convene a commission with an exclusive focus on the phase-out of coal. Instead, a commission should focus on how to modernise the economy, which would also include decarbonisation, as well as growth and social balance, Gabriel said at the annual congress of the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW). The future of coal would then be part of these talks, but not the exclusive focus. "A climate protection programme is a modernisation programme. This is what we should talk about, not only about a coal exit."
At the beginning of the year, Gabriel had said he wanted to establish a round table on the future of coal this year.
E.ON shareholders approved the spin-off of Uniper with a large majority of 99.68 at E.ON’s annual general meeting. “We intend to undertake the largest transaction of Europe’s recent industrial history,” said E.ON CEO Johannes Teyssen before the vote. “It would create nothing less than a new E.ON, a company fully dedicated to the energy future.” The new E.ON focuses on renewables, while spin-off Uniper concentrates on conventional energy. The spin-off will likely take effect in the second half of 2016.
Read the CLEW factsheet E.ON shareholders ratify energy giant's split.
“Strategy of desperation”
The strategy of splitting the company into two might be the only way out for the big German utilities E.ON and RWE, but both lack convincing concepts, writes Karl-Heinz Büschemann in an opinion piece in Süddeutsche Zeitung. “The dinosaurs of power supply […] face an uncertain future,” writes Büschemann. “After the split into a green and a conventional company part, E.ON and RWE must proof that they can find the way in the future world of energy production. So far, they have shown little imagination in this field.”
Read the opinion piece in German here.
The reform of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) agreed by cabinet on Wednesday is a bitter disappointment because it slows down the Energiewende, writes Petra Pinzler in a commentary in weekly Die Zeit. The government says goodbye to its own climate targets, and gambles away Germany’s pioneering role. To reduce costs, the government could have cut environmentally harmful subsidies instead, and reduce the amount of power produced with dirty lignite in the grid, according to Pinzler.
Read about cabinet approval of the reform in yesterday’s News Digest.
For details of the reform plans, read the factsheet EEG reform 2016 – switching to auctions for renewables.
Bavaria makes Energiewende much more expensive
Bavaria’s “blockade policy” has increased the costs of Germany’s energy transition by billions of euros, writes Martin Greive in Die Welt. The state's insistence on biogas support in the recent negotiations about reform of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) alone adds up to one billion euros, government sources told the author. Last year, Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer secured support for regional back-up power plants, and was a driver behind the decision to put transmission grid cables underground. “In energy policy, Seehofer bets on pure populism, with an exclusive focus on his state's interests,” writes Greive.
Read the article in German here.
For CLEW background, read the factsheet German federalism: In 16 states of mind over the Energiewende.
IASS Potsdam Blog
“Focus on fulfilling the Climate Agreement instead of lowering power prices”
Some politicians have suggested using a state fund to finance renewables in order to keep power prices stable, writes Patrick Matschoss from the Transdisciplinary Panel on Energy Change (TPEC) at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), in the institute’s Blog. But surveys suggest most people remain strongly in favour of the energy transition, even though they expect further price increases. “Instead of reducing the [renewable power] surcharge, it should be used to speed up growth,” concludes Matschoss.
Read the blog post in English here.
For background, read the factsheet Polls reveal citizens' support for Energiewende.
Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten
Lusatia demands more help from federal government for structural changes
An alliance of 23 communities, state districts and villages from the Lusatia region in the eastern German states of Saxony and Brandenburg demands stronger support for the structural changes resulting from the country’s transition towards renewables, reports Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten. The group presented its proposal to enact a treaty between the states and the federal government to help finance the creation of alternative industry jobs and help the region with other costly effects of the transition. With this set-up, Lusatia could turn into a “model region” for structural change, say the initiators. Lusatia is Germany’s second largest lignite mining region and would be heavily affected by a possible coal phase-out in the coming decades.
Institute for Applied Ecology
Contribution of German recycling system to climate protection
The separate collection and recycling of waste in Germany makes an important contribution to protecting the climate, according to the Institute for Applied Ecology. In 2014, 3.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents were avoided thanks to the system, writes the institute in a press release. “If material is recycled, the resource oil and the costs related to its production, transport and processing are saved. Additionally, the energy consumption and emissions connected to the production of the materials are replaced,” said Alexandra Möck, researcher at the Institute for Applied Ecology.
Find the press release in German here.