31 Mar 2016, 00:00
Sören Amelang Julian Wettengel

German solar "a pile of shards" / Chinese power for Germany?

(UPDATE - clarifies sourcing in section on emissions trading in paragraph 6 - sources are Prognos and German Steel Federation, not Die Welt. Headline changes accordingly.)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“Pile of solar shards”

It is hard to recognise the former German solar industry, writes Thiemo Heeg in a commentary in conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. SMA Solar is a good example for the sector’s radical transformation: It is back in the black, but it had to adopt a new business model in the past five years as sales halved. “The crisis of the solar industry is nearing its end… in Germany, the industry barely exists any longer,” writes Heeg. He says it was a grave mistake to first transfer billions into the sector and then pull the emergency brake. “What remains is a pile of shards, from which a few survivors slowly emerge.”



“A ray of light in the realm of the eclipse”

Solar in Germany was once considered a sunrise industry, but today it is in a sorry state and leaves “a never-ending trail of blood”, writes Franz Hubik in business daily Handelsblatt. SMA Solar is a rare exception. “Since the end of exaggerated subsidies five years ago, the only way is down. The domestic photovoltaic market collapsed entirely in 2015.” Whereas up to eight gigawatts of solar capacity were installed in the boom years around 2010, they only added up to 1.4 gigawatts last year. Around 84,000 jobs were lost in the industry in Germany, leaving only 49,000 employed in the sector today, writes Hubik.

Read the commentary in German here.

Read the dossier on the energy transition’s effect on jobs and business here.



“Thanks to foreign countries!”

Only solar companies with a large export share flourish in Germany, writes Bernward Janzing in left-wing daily tageszeitung. “But it is questionable how long German companies can hold their ground globally if the domestic market languishes,” according to Janzing. The German Solar Industry Association (BSW) believes the sector can only profit from the global solar boom with a reliable domestic regulatory framework, and that only a strong domestic market will enable access to capital for research, development and production in Germany, writes Janzing.

Read the article in German here.


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

German Energiewende policy “fundamentally flawed”

The future president of the Ifo Institute for Economic Research, Clemens Fuest, believes that Germany’s energy policy is “fundamentally flawed”. “Basically, we have created a subsidy-driven command economy that is now defended by very strong lobby groups,” Fuest said in an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “The wind lobby and the solar lobby now argue over subsidies and it is very difficult for politicians to counter this. It went totally wrong.” Fuest added that Germany should have focused more on supporting research on renewable energies.

Read an article about the interview in German here.


Financial Times

“China looks to export surplus energy to Germany”

China’s power grid operator believes the country's proposed investments in long-distance, ultra-high voltage power transmission lines will pave the way for power exports as far as Germany, reports Lucy Hornby in the Financial Times. Liu Zhenya, chairman of State Grid, told reporters that wind and thermal power produced in Xinjiang could reach Germany at half the current cost of electricity there. “There are so many resources, but no market. We need to find it externally.” The article says the distance from Kashgar, an oasis city in Xinjiang near China’s central Asian frontier, to Berlin is only about 400 miles further as the crow flies than the distance from Kashgar to Shanghai, China’s financial centre.

Read the article in English here.


Prognos/German Steel Federation

“EU proposal for emissions trading threatens hundreds of thousands of jobs”

The European Commission’s proposal to reform the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) potentially endangers hundreds of thousands of jobs in Germany, according to a Prognos-study commissioned by the German Steel Federation (WV Stahl). As the industry is an important part of the value chain, its development heavily influences many connected sectors, write the authors. While steel might be facing a 60% loss in production and employment (37,000 jobs), the study predicts the service sector will suffer the highest losses with 252,000 jobs by 2030. Prognos assumed high emissions and energy costs resulting from ETS reforms for these calculations, and compared these to a scenario with no ETS costs.

Find the Steel Federation's press release with links to the study in German here.

Read an article about the study in newspaper Die Welt in German here.



“Energy policy 'unprofessional and flawed'”

Germany no longer had a reliable energy policy ensuring supply security and competetitive prices after the Fukushima accident in 2011, according to the future supervisory board chairman of struggling power giant E.ON, Karl-Ludwig Kley. “I accept the political goals of the energy transition and share them in part. So the end of nuclear power and a clear reduction in CO2 are a given. But I regard the implementation as unprofessional and flawed,” Kley told business daily Handelsblatt. He called for a "realistic exit process" for nuclear and fossil fuels that allowed energy companies and the energy-consuming industry to "implement the changeover sensibly. Sometimes physics and technology move more slowly than the political will. Society and the government should accept that."
Mr. Kley is retiring as chief executive of German drugs company Merck KGaA after a decade in the job, and is due to take over as supervisory board chairman of E.ON, Germany’s biggest power company, in June.

Read the interview in English here.

Find a factsheet on the stability of the German power grid here.


Bundesnetzagentur / pv magazine

“Tariffs for photovoltaic installations again will not be lowered”

The feed-in tariffs for new photovoltaic (PV) installations will remain unchanged between 1 April and 30 June 2016 for the third time in a row. This is because newly installed capacity of 1.37 gigawatts (GW) over the past 12 months was more than 1,000 megawatts below the target corridor of 2.4-2.6 GW as determined by the Renewable Energy Act (EEG), the Federal Network Agency said. With 50.5 megawatts, newly registered PV installations reached an all-time low in the month of February, writes pv magazine in an article. The feed-in tariffs were last lowered in June 2015.

Find the press release in German here.

Read the pv magazine article in German here.


pv magazine

“Federal government responsible for collapse of renewable energy”

Following the publication of UNEP’s findings on a drop in German investments in renewables, former member of the Bundestag and president of Energy Watch Group Hans-Josef Fell criticises the renewable energy policy decisions by the federal government in an opinion piece for pv magazine. The 2014 changes of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) have “suffocated” investments in Germany, while the UNEP report shows a global record of 286 billion dollars in renewable investments, writes Fell. “It was always clear that this would be the outcome. Yet, the [federal government] mercilessly grabbed hold of their agenda of destruction.”

Read the opinion piece in German here.

Find the study featured in yesterday’s news digest here.


Die Welt / Rheinische Post online

Energy policy as one reason for slow economic development

With a stagnant economy in 2015, Germany's most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) is ranked last among German federal states concerning economic development, according to numbers released by the state’s Bureau of Statistics. The regional government blamed national and European energy policy for this development, given that NRW is home to coal-produced energy and large amounts of energy-intensive sectors like steel and primary industry, writes Die Welt. The economic research institute RWI agreed the Energiewende is weighing on the region, because of its heavy reliance on the fossil fuel industry, according to an article in Rheinische Post. But it also sees other equally important factors at play, such as a lack of investment in research and development, and poor municipalities.

Read the article by Die Welt in German here.

Read the article by Rheinische Post in German here.


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