The New York Times
“Germany, the Green Superpower”
With a generous feed-in tariff “that made it a no-brainer for Germans to install solar power (or wind) at home,” Germany has made a “world-saving achievement” by driving down the costs of solar and wind power everywhere, Thomas L. Friedman writes in an op-ed for the New York Times. Almost 30 percent of the Germany's electricity grid has been converted to solar and wind energy in around 15 years, he says, adding that one remaining problem is that “Germany has tons of cheap, dirty lignite coal that is used as backup power for wind and solar.”
Read the op-ed in English here.
“German Consumers Seen Unscathed by Renewable Energy Boom”
“Germany can switch its power supply to rely mostly on renewables while keeping consumer bills little changed because wind and solar plants are producing electricity at ever-lower cost,” Stefan Nicola writes on Bloomberg Business, citing a study by Berlin think-tank Agora Energiewende.
Read the Bloomberg report in English here.
Read a CLEW article on the effect of renewables on power prices and power exports here.
BloombergBusiness / E.ON
“E.ON First-Quarter Profit Falls 15% on Lower Power Prices”
Lower wholesale power prices saw earnings of Germany’s largest utility E.ON fall by 15 percent in the first quarter, Bloomberg Business reports. Underlying net income fell to 1.01 billion euros from 1.18 billion in 2014, Bloomberg writes. In a E.ON press statement, CEO Johannes Teyssen said: “We already know that 2015 won’t be easy.” The generation segment’s earnings were hit by overhaul work at a number of nuclear power stations and by the sale and decommissioning of fossil-fueled power plants, the press release said.
At E.ON’s annual shareholders meeting, held today in Essen, Germany, the focus was on the company’s split into two separate businesses. Supervisory Board Chairman Werner Wenning said the transformation was making swift progress and that the shareholders’ dividend for the 2014 and 2015 financial years would be stable at 0.50 euro per share. E.ON also published its Sustainability Report, saying it reduced its carbon emissions in Europe by 16 percent in 2014.
Read CLEW's Dossier the impact of the Energiewende on German utilities here.
“Norway’s state fund pressures RWE to exit coal”
Norway’s state fund, which owns a 2 percent share in German utility RWE, has demanded the company explain how and when it will phase out its coal power operations, Nils-Viktor Sorge reports in Manager Magazin. The 800 billion euro state fund has also asked RWE whether it might split into separate companies like E.ON, Sorge writes. Last year, the Norwegians pulled out of 14 coal mining companies, he says.
Read the article in German here.
Frankfurter Allgmeine Zeitung (FAZ)
“No fear of brown coal”
Czech utility company CEZ is interested in buying Vattenfall's eastern German brown coal operations, the FAZ reports. This includes lignite mines, power plants and hydropower stations, CEZ chairman Daniel Benes told the paper. The sale process would probably start in September and by then there would be more clarity over the German government’s energy and coal policies, Benes said. He is not particularly worried about a quick exit from brown coal, the article says. “Coal-fired power stations can be a bridge into a future with less carbon-intensive power generation (…) but coal plants will exist for several decades.” The CEZ group’s power plants are 9 percent hard coal, 36 percent brown coal (lignite), 48 percent nuclear and 6 percent hydropower and renewable.
Frankfurter Allgmeine Zeitung
“Energy security with a global energy transformation”
Whether or not Germany will phase out CO2-intensive brown coal power production is not only a question of national energy policy, it’s now also a question of international security policy, writes Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International in the Frankfurter Allgmeine Zeitung. The world is watching Chancellor Angela Merkel, to see if she is brave enough to make Germany the first large industrial country to free itself from dependency on nuclear and fossil energy sources, he writes. War and conflict over fossil resources can today be overcome, Naidoo says. Alternative energies exist – China invests heavily in them and even the conservative International Energy Agency projects that solar energy will become the dominant power source globally in the coming years, the author writes. It is positive that under Merkel’s leadership, the G7 has agreed to combat climate change. But in order to be taken seriously at the upcoming G7 meeting in Bavaria, Merkel must push through the climate levy on old coal-fired power stations in Germany, Naidoo concludes.