Launch of nuclear clean-up fund / VW bets on natural gas

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“The way for a nuclear state fund has been paved”

The German government and the country’s nuclear plant operators will sign a long-awaited contract about the funding for the final storage of nuclear waste today, Andreas Mihm writes in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The contract formally ensures that utilities E.ON, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall will pay about 24 billion euros by the beginning of next month into the state fund, thereby transferring responsibility for disposing of the nuclear waste to public authorities. The companies, on the other hand, will have to ensure the safe deconstruction of phased-out nuclear facilities, Mihm adds.

Read the article in German here.  

See the CLEW factsheet Securing utility payments for the nuclear clean-up for more information.

 

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“How the coal fund outperforms the nuclear fund”

Germany’s nuclear fund is meant to cover the costs accruing from the country’s nuclear phase-out for generations to come. If – and only if - the fund is managed well, taxpayers will not have to top it up, Helmut Bünder and Brigitte Koch write in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Germany’s RAG Foundation, created ten years ago, is already successfully doing the same thing for hard coal mining in the country’s west, they write. The fund’s budget has increased from around six billion euros at the outset to almost 17 billion euros today, and it is expected to easily cover the 220 million euros annually projected to cushion the economic impact in western Germany’s hard coal regions, they say. The last mines are slated for closure in 2019.

See the CLEW interview “There’s no way around a coal exit law” for background.

 

Spiegel Online

“Natural gas is the new diesel”

Volkswagen is pushing natural gas engines in the desperate hope of remaining below the EU’s 2020 fleet emission targets, writes Christian Frahm in Spiegel Online. “According to sources within the Wolfsburg headquarters, the company will not be able to stay within the 95 gram target.” Volkswagen seems to attempt to compensate the diesel decline with an increase in natural gas vehicles, because in contrast to VW electric vehicles, the technology is mature and available.

Read the article in German here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers and the factsheet Dieselgate forces VW to embrace green mobility.

 

Handelsblatt

“Divide old and new”

Chinese e-car quotas could turn into a shock for the German car industry, with an effect comparable to the impact of the Fukushima nuclear disaster on utilities, writes Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, head of the Center Automotive Research (CAR) at the University Duisburg-Essen in a guest column in the business daily Handelsblatt. But whereas carmakers “only” need to swap combustion engines with electric motors, many suppliers are much more dependent on combustion technology. “The energy giants’ blueprints to split companies in two offer a suggestion. Time is running out for mid-sized suppliers. It could become fatal if they don’t take the right precautions.”

For background, read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.

 

dpa / Handelsblatt

“Operator Tennet warns of transmission-highway toll”

Grid operator Tennet, one of Germany’s four major electricity network companies, has warned that a toll on power transmission from Germany’s windy north to industrial centres in the south could create substantial obstacles for the country’s planned transmission highways SuedLink and SuedOstLink, news agency dpa reports in an article carried by Handelsblatt. Tennet board member Lex Hartmann said the toll, which has been called for by the Bavarian Farmer’s Association (BBV), would generate recurring costs for power consumers, and therefore could call the project’s acceptance into question, the article says. Tennet said its expenditure on grid intervention during the first four months of 2017 was 50 percent higher than in the same period last year, and this figure is likely to further increase as the regional imbalance in Germany’s power supply will be aggravated by the country’s nuclear exit in 2022.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and Germany’s power grid for background.

 

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“Germany’s expensive energy meander”

Germany supports renewable energies with more money than any other country on Earth, but the effect on CO2 emissions remains limited, according to Justus Haucap, head of the Institute for Competition Economics (DICE) at Düsseldorf University. Without a corresponding withdrawal of EU emission certificates, Germany’s renewable support is utterly pointless in terms of climate protection, writes Haucap in a contribution to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “The Merkel government’s climate and energy policy can only be called a meander. A lot is done for renewable energies, but paradoxically, little for the climate.”

Find the article in German (behind paywall) here.

 

Süddeutsche Zeitung

“More than green chitchat”

Sustainability criteria, such as climate protection, are becoming more and more important for major companies, and new developments in data transparency increase the pressure on them to act accordingly, Jan Willmroth writes in Süddeutsche Zeitung. Former investment banker Andreas Feiner, for instance, works for the Frankfurt-based investment company Arabesque which, with its computer programme S-Ray, aims at measuring a company’s record of complying with the so-called ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) standards, Willmroth writes. “ESG criteria will become indicators, just like the stock price-profit relationship or the dividend yield”, Feiner argues. A tendency towards “green finance” topics could be seen in Germany’s presidency priorities for the upcoming G20 summit, as well as in the work of the EU’s Expert Group on Sustainable Finance, he adds.

Read the article in German here.

 

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung / Deutsche Welle

“Thermal insulation to be supported by tax incentives”

The German government plans to introduce new tax incentives for building insulation, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. The newspaper has learned that Chancellor Angela Merkel and Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks propose subsidies, and the Finance Ministry is open to the idea. Merkel said the insulation subsidies would help tackle the "low hanging fruit" in the reduction of CO2 emissions.

Read the article in German here, and a Deutsche Welle article in English here.

Find background in the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and Efficiency.

 

Rheinische Post

“Hand in hand against nuclear power”

Around 50,000 people joined hands on 25 June across the borders of Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany to form a 90-kilometre human chain in protest against the incident-prone Belgian nuclear power plants at Doel and Tihange, Rheinische Post reports. The activists met in their respective countries’ border region. “The fear of the reactor unifies many people – also across borders,” the article says. The Belgian reactor at Tihange, just 60 kilometres from the German city of Aachen, would make one of Germany’s, and also Europe’s, most densely populated regions uninhabitable in the event of a major accident, Rheinische Post says.

Read the article in German here.

For background on Germany’s nuclear exit, see the CLEW dossier The challenges of Germany‘s nuclear phase-out.

 

Spiegel Online

“Fear of the atomic cloud”

The German news website Spiegel Online has published an interactive map showing the results of research conducted by the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, and the Austrian Institute for Ecology into fallout from possible nuclear accidents in Europe. “In case of a nuclear accident, the risk [of being affected] will depend heavily on the gravity of the accident and on the prevailing meteorological conditions”, the article says. The map therefore could not accurately predict accident risks, “but it can inform the debate with scientifically-based estimates”, the authors write.

Find the article and the interactive map in German here.

For background on Germany’s nuclear exit, see the CLEW dossier The challenges of Germany‘s nuclear phase-out.

 

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