In the media: Debate over EU nuclear investment, coal abroad, last legs for lignite?
“A dangerous thought”
The minister-president of Lower Saxony, Stephan Weil, told the taz he was worried German tax money would be used to fund nuclear energy projects in other European countries, as part of a spending package to boost growth in the EU. “It is the case that a number of member states are apparently seriously considering funding new nuclear power plants with EU money,” he told the newspaper. He named the UK, Poland and Hungary as those who were interested in such investment. The three-year, 315 billion-euro investment plan is under discussion at an EU summit this week in Brussels. This will not be implemented until mid-2015, but the EU is currently considering which projects to support, the newspaper says. Germany has decided to shut down all of its nuclear plants by 2022 as part of its broadly supported “Energiewende” – the transition to a clean economy.
Separately, the Berliner Zeitung cites EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker as saying he wanted to deflect concerns that “all we have in our heads is to finance additional nuclear facilities.” Prior to the summit, Austria’s environment minister Andrä Rupprechter said the country “would make its massive opposition clear to spending a third of the investment volume on nuclear energy.”
Read the article in the Berliner Zeitung in German here.
“Why lignite is on its last legs”
In an analysis for Der Tagesspiegel, Christian von Hirschhausen, professor for economy and infrastructure policy at the TU Berlin, writes that lignite will disappear and it will do so quickly. The conventional power producers by now regard lignite as an obsolescent model. A plan to test carbon capture technology in Brandenburg has been abandoned and the confirmation of climate protection targets by the German government all make clear that power generation from lignite is not the future, von Hirschhausen says. Depicting power from lignite as important for the system has already been refuted because the new Climate Action Programme states the opposite.
See the op-ed in German here.
“KfW will continue to invest in coal abroad”
The Ministry for Environment and the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy have agreed to allow exporting and investing in coal plant technology abroad as long as the power stations fulfil minimum efficiency requirements and enable carbon capture technology, Dagmar Dehmer reports in Der Tagesspiegel. Environment minister Barbara Hendricks had announced in autumn 2014 that German development bank KfW would withdraw from financing coal technology abroad. But Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel – under pressure from industry who regarded this as a de-facto export ban – pushed for a compromise.
Read the article in German here.
Dow Jones Newswires
“Dow Chemical expects hard times for chemicals in Germany”
Chemicals industry representatives are warning that the Energiewende could cause some companies to move operations abroad. In an interview with Dow Jones Newswires, Willem Huisman, head of Dow Chemical Germany says that electricity and gas are considerably cheaper in other parts of the world, such as the Middle East and the United States. The cost of producing in Germany is comparatively higher because gas and other raw materials must be imported, and also because the Energiewende is driving up production costs. He sees this situation unchanged for at least the next five years, meaning that Europe in general needs to improve efficiency and become more self-sufficient in energy production, he says. He also suggests that Germany should consider pursuing fracking – pumping chemicals in the ground to release gas or oil from shale – in order to diversify its energy mix.
Separately, dpa writes in a feature that the chemicals industry is facing tough competition, the “specter” of the Energiewende and a weak European economy in 2015, causing them to consider production options abroad. Interviewing a number of experts in the branch, dpa says, however, that none of them expect a dramatic migration out of Germany, especially because the oil price is declining.