In the media: Environmentally harmful subsidies, the utilities as victims, grid extension projects
Study: Federal Environmental Agency (UBA)
“Environmentally harmful subsidies amount to over 52 billion euros”
Even as Germany focuses much effort and funding on climate protection measures, it continues to subsidise environmentally harmful policies and technology, according to a study by the Federal Environmental Agency (UBA). The report, which looked at environmentally harmful subsidies in the year 2010, found that 52 billion euros was spent on projects that contribute to global warming and other negative effects on the environment. The report also analysed subsidies for their impact on air, soil and water quality, as well as human health. The largest share of environmentally harmful subsidies went to the transport sector (24.4 billion euros), followed by the energy sector (21.6 billion euros) and the building sector (5.9 billion euros).
See a report on the study on Welt Online in German here.
The Wall Street Journal Deutschland
“Saving the electricity giants”
Germany’s large utilities have turned from hated giants into fearful victims, according to a video report by Jenny Busche und Hendrik Varnholt for the Wall Street Journal. With E.ON, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall struggling to earn from their conventional power stations, politicians are discussing whether a capacity market could save them. The utilities favour a decentralised capacity market, the report says.
See the article and videos in German here.
“Facing the oath of disclosure”
The dire situation of the large energy companies poses a problem for the financing of the nuclear waste disposal, Germany’s former Economy Minister Wolfgang Clement writes in an opinion piece for the Handelsblatt. The provisions made by utilities for decommissioning nuclear facilities are partially invested in natural gas, coal and nuclear power plants, Clement says. If these assets lose value as a result of plants being shut down early, or of limited use, this will affect funds available for nuclear waste disposal. Clement writes that retiring fossil fuel capacity would also undermine the European emissions trading system and be “economically and from a climate policy perspective counterproductive”.
“IG Metall criticises Bavarian energy policy”
Trade union IG Metall has joined the chorus of criticism of Bavarian state energy policy, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports. Jürgen Wechsler, the regional director of IG Metall, which backs the development of wind power and the planned construction of power lines to Bavaria from northern Germany, said the CSU state government lacked a consistent line on the grid extension project, and should not underestimate the concerns of energy-intensive industry operating in the region, the article says.
“Rejection of Suedlink line; Main-Kinzig aligns itself with 17 other districts against pylons”
The Frankfurter Rundschau reports that Main-Kinzig in Hesse is the latest district to demand a redesign of the 800-km Suedlink grid extension project planned to bring wind power from northern Germany to Bavaria, as residents fear the impact of pylons on tourism and quality of life.
“Conservationists say ‘yes’ to West Coast line”
Shz.de reports that Friends of the Earth Germany and bird conservation organisation NABU say they will not attempt to block the construction of a 150 km high voltage transmission line along the west coast of the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein. The groups had opposed the project over concerns for local bird life, but are satisfied with a rerouting of the line to avoid an important conservation area, as well as markers to make cables visible to birds in flight.
See the article in German here.
“More courage, please!”
Many German producers of solar power from roof-installations are unsettled, Georg Weishaupt writes in an opinion piece for the Handelsblatt. The latest reform of the Renewable Energy Act has cut feed-in tariffs for photovoltaics, and homeowners will likely react by installing far fewer solar panels than in previous years. Green energy producers will have to rethink their approach, investing in intelligent solutions like combined systems with batteries that allow them to use the majority of power they generate themselves. Rather than leading to confusion, this should be seen as an opportunity to further the Energiewende's aim of decentralised, self-supplied power.
“Europe’s coal renaissance ‘was only a dream’, says IEA”
The International Energy Agency’s Medium Term Coal Report 2014 finds that European coal use is declining following a “temporary spike caused by low prices, high gas costs, and the partial shutdown of German nuclear plants,” Euractiv reports. The report says falling demand is the result of “moderate economic growth, better energy efficiency, increasing renewable energy sources, and coal plant retirements.”
See the article in English here.
See the IEA report in English here.
“What has gone wrong with Germany's energy policy”
A blog post for the Economist says that the German government’s plans to “accelerate the energy transition” announced on 3 December, as well as E.ON’s announcement that it would be splitting in two, “have been seen as evidence that the Energiewende has failed.” The post says that while renewables now account for “an impressive 27 percent” of the country’s energy production, the power price for consumers has gone up, the wholesale price has fallen – hitting the utilities’ profits – and the country is emitting more carbon dioxide.
See the blog post in English here.