“Gabriel takes on the energy sector”
Energy minister Sigmar Gabriel was given a chilly reception by the Chairwoman of the Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) in Berlin on Wednesday, Markus Balser writes in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. But he retaliated immediately, saying that the sector had not wanted to come forward with suggestions on how they can cut CO2 emissions when asked to do so. Gabriel also criticised chancellor Angela Merkel’s climate policy at the recent G7 summit, as well as her lack of action domestically: “I wish I could also one time meet up with six of my chums and decide on a target for the year 2100 and be celebrated for it … especially if I do it three times in a row and it’s considered a success every single time.”
As Gabriel announced that he might prefer alternatives to the climate levy on old coal power stations, opposition leaders from the Green Party warned the minister not to give in to the coal lobby, or the German greenhouse gas reduction target for 2020 would become waste-paper.
Read the article in German here.
See a CLEW article on the latest developments concerning the climate levy here.
“Unemployment benefits for power stations”
By putting fossil power stations into a capacity reserve, as the energy minister proposed on Wednesday, “old CO2 -intensive polluters would be given a golden parachute,” Thorsen Knuf quotes energy expert Claudia Kemfert in the Frankfurter Rundschau. These unemployment benefits for old power stations were not what the government originally intended, Kemfert said.
Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel should have let go of his embattled climate levy a while ago – he is facing disgrace if he doesn’t, writes Dana Heide in an op-ed for the Handelsblatt. He has taken the wrong path and underestimated the enormous insecurities, sensitivities and suffering of the energy sector, Heide writes. From a consumer’s point of view, the alternative to the climate levy is a poisonous compromise – it will cost the consumer dearly. More support for combined heat and power amounting to 1.5 billion euros, will be paid by consumers through a surcharge on the power bill. The taxpayer will also foot the bill for mothballing lignite power stations, Heide says. These are not good prospects for households and small and medium sized enterprises.
“Coal levy – finally gone”
Energy minister Sigmar Gabriel has to fix the Energiewende, because the previous conservative-liberal government didn’t do anything about it, writes Alfons Freese in an op-ed for the Tagesspiegel. His challenges include phasing out nuclear power, expanding the grid, becoming more independent from Russian gas, avoiding fracking, reducing emissions from coal and increasing energy efficiency. But for over a year nothing much has happened, with nearly all involved talking of the “unholy” climate levy. The climate levy is now gone – that frees the way for other long needed decisions.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ)
“Gabriel’s cry for help”
Energy minister Sigmar Gabriel’s climate levy is practically dead, writes Andreas Mihm in an op-ed for the FAZ. This is a good thing, says Mihm, because the levy endangered power plants, coal mines and jobs. Moreover, intervening with an instrument like the climate levy does not fit in with Gabriel’s assertion that he wants to minimise state interference in the power market. Coal plant operators will receive “a few 100 million euros” for mothballing their old power stations. But since this will save less CO2 than envisaged, Gabriel needs to cut emissions elsewhere, Mihm writes. A scheme to refurbish old inefficient heating systems in houses will cost extra – and Gabriel is crying for help from the federal budget and the chancellor to pay for it.
“Econ Min Gabriel makes concessions for Bavaria on power lines”
German economics and energy minister Sigmar Gabriel has offered to bury more cables in order to alleviate public concerns in Bavaria over power lines planned to carry wind and sun power to the industrial south, according to Der Spiegel. Gabriel has suggested burying the last kilometres planned for expansion of an already existing power line – the southeast branch, the magazine says. Gabriel is sticking to plans for a branch that would run from Grafenrheinfeld north to Würzburg, but says a second line does not need to run through Bavaria because this is for bringing power to Hesse and Baden-Württemberg, according to Der Spiegel. “I think that this is a very comprehensive offer to the Bavarian state chancellery,” said Gabriel, according to the magazine. He wants a deal by July 1.
Read the article in German here.
Read a CLEW dossier on the grid expansion issue here.
“Network Operator Amprion presents assessment”
Every year longer that it takes to build the power lines to carry wind power from north to south will cost money, which will fall onto the bills of power customers, network operator Amprion officials told Deutschlandfunk. “If the network expansion doesn’t now take off properly, the Energiewende will come to a standstill,” predicts managing director Hans-Jürgen Brick in the article. Amprion plans to invest 5.4 million euros in the expansion between 2015 and 2024, the article says. The plan is to start a dialogue with the public via its internet and directly at building sites, in order to achieve a public consensus over the controversial power lines.
Read the article in German here.
“Europe: 50 percent renewable energies by 2030 possible with greater integration”
Closely networking Central Western European (CWE) power systems would significantly balance out weather-related power needs as these countries use ever-more fluctuating wind and sun for their electricity, according to a Fraunhofer Institute study commissioned Agora Energiewende*. While the sun may be shining in one area, it may be cloudy in another, such that power requirements across a broad region tend to cancel each other out. This means shutting down excess power from wind parks on very windy days could be avoided in 90 percent of all cases, the study showed. Integration would cut losses and raise the monetary value of renewable power, as power would be distributed to the regions where and when it is most needed, it said. At the same time, it would reduce the need to keep conventional power plants ready to jump in when power is needed. The CWE region includes France, Switzerland, Austria, the Benelux countries and Germany.
Read the press release in English here.
*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.