“Germany considers emissions levy as CO2 reduction target wobbles”
Germany may have to introduce a tax on emissions in order to meet its target of cutting CO2 emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, according to Franzjosef Schafhausen, the deputy director general of climate change policy in the Environment Ministry. The rejection of a planned climate levy on the most polluting power plants raised questions about whether targets can be met, Schafhausen told Bloomberg. “We’re discussing the possibility that additional charges such as taxes may need levying under Germany’s Clean Air Act,” Schafhausen said.
Read the article in English here.
Read CLEW's account of the fight over the climate levy here.
“Companies criticise German energy policy”
The Austrian grid authority and energy companies are critical of German energy policy and plans to split the Austrian-German electricity trading zone, reports Austrian newspaper Der Standard. Those plans are only due to the fact that “the Germans aren't managing to make headway with grid extensions,” Gerhard Christiner from Austrian grid operator APG told the paper. Progress was urgent because otherwise the German energy transition would get stuck halfway, said Christiner.
Find the article in German here.
“Lusatia’s open-cast mines contaminate Berlin’s drinking water”
Lignite mining in the German region of Lusatia is contaminating Berlin’s drinking water with sulphates, according to an article in newspaper Tagesspiegel. The river that runs through the centre of Berlin flows from that region. Purifying the water would require expensive technology and might push up water prices by up to 30 percent, according to the article.
Read the article in German here.
“Germany has to show that its energy is clean”
Germany’s Energiewende is making steady progress but the country’s use of coal and lignite endangers the reputation of the project, writes John Gapper in a column for the Financial Times. “Belching lignite fumes into the sky under the guise of a green energy programme starts to make the country look as if it never does what it says on the label,” writes Gapper with reference to the VW emissions scandal. Germany might even surpass its target of renewables comprising 35 percent of electricity generation by 2020, according to Gapper. “It would be stupid to spoil this by letting emissions rise regardless… After Volkswagen, the world will not take German technology on trust. It has been enormously inventive; now it must produce results.”
Read the column in English here.
Find 2014 emissions data in the CLEW factsheet on Germany’s climate targets here.
Read the factsheet “Coal in Germany” here.
“Nuclear liability law is no more than a little contribution”
The “parents are liable for their children” law approved in cabinet yesterday to secure utility payments for nuclear decommissioning is a good decision in principle, writes Jürgen Döschner in a commentary for NDR.de. “So all is well? Not at all…Even if RWE and E.ON still exist in 20 or 30 years, a look at their share prices over the past ten years is enough to raise doubts over the energy dinosaurs’ capacity to shoulder the gigantic costs of depositing the nuclear waste in the long run.” The complete and eternal liability of the nuclear operators is an illusion, writes Döschner. He argues the government should try everything to secure at least a part of the companies’ past nuclear profits, by banning dividend payments and transferring provisions into a public fund.
Read the article in German here.
Find the CLEW factsheet on securing utility payments here.
“Lost from view in the fervour of the energy transition”
The nuclear exit is right and necessary, but it will be extremely expensive and complicated, and it’s far from clear who will end up paying for it, argues Barbara Schmidt-Mattern in a commentary for Deutschlandfunk. “All of this was lost from view in the fervour of the Energiewende.” The utility provisions of 38 billion euros should best be kept in a public fund, the model also favoured by the energy ministry. “The mistrust in the companies must be quite large," she says. "This is why it is particularly annoying that minister Sigmar Gabriel insists at the same time that provisions are sufficient and that the companies had passed the stress-test.” She says even the stress test details reveal doubts about whether the provisions are large enough. “A minister should be honest about this in the interest of taxpayers, instead of just aiming to boost utility share prices.”
Read the commentary in German here.
“Businesses flip the power switch”
More and more small and medium-sized businesses are generating and using their own electricty, rather than feeding it into the power grid, writes Bernward Janzing in the Handelsblatt. According to a poll by the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), around 40 percent of all companies are considering this option, primarily using solar panels, Janzing writes. Now that solar power has become cheaper than power drawn from the network, companies no longer make a profit from selling it to the grid, he says. They are using their own power and selling only the surplus to the grid. Falling solar array prices are also making this option attractive, Janzing writes. Only energy-intensive industries that can buy power at bulk or special rates can get electricity more cheaply.
Read a CLEW fact-sheet on individual power producers here.