In the media: E.ON and the age of dinosaurs, climate action ready for government approval

Süddeutsche Zeitung

“The end of dinosaurs“

In the end, the large dinosaurs who had ruled the world disappeared – Germany’s big energy companies face a similar fate, writes Markus Balser in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. E.ON’s announcement to split up the company's renewables and fossil fuels assets, shows how the nuclear phase-out and the energy transition in Germany have cornered utilities, but E.ON is only the harbinger of things to come, Balser says. The other three big utilities will face similar cuts and shrinkage, he predicts.

See the op-ed in German here.

 

Reuters

“RWE does not plan a split like E.ON”

Highly indebted utility RWE does not want to part with company assets, Reuters Deutschland reports, citing a company spokesman. Unlike E.ON, the management at RWE believes it will be able to get back on its feet as a whole by introducing “improvements” to the company.

See the article in German here.

 

Rheinische Post

“E.ON is not an example for the sector”

Utilitiy RWE will not be able to do what E.ON has done, Antje Höning says in a editorial for the Rheinische Post. Communal shareholders would not let RWE be split up, she writes. E.ON has parted with all its difficult businesses, be it nuclear power or Russian gas, but now it is questionable whether the new “bad bank” company will be strong enough to cope with a nuclear and coal phase-out or whether it will ask the taxpayer for money in the end.

See the editorial in German here.

 

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ)

“Escape into the future”

E.ON is bearing the consequences of a “not rationally plannable” energy policy in Germany, Werner Sturbeck writes in an opinion piece for the FAZ. But E.ON faces just as much trouble abroad: the company's partner for power station construction in Brazil is insolvent, Russia’s currency is weak and Turkey is failing to stand tall as an emerging economy, he says. E.ON's move is unprecedented in Germany and it is difficult to predict how the core company's focus on renewables will pan out, since the renewables sector is largely dependent on political decisions, Sturbeck says. The spin-off, focused on  conventional power, stands a chance because country's power mix contains 50% renewables, conventional power stations will have to provide the rest - and this will be reflected in comfortable prices, the author writes.

Read the op-ed in German here.

 

Zeit Online

“E.ON’s radical exit is risky”

E.ON CEO Teyssen is strongly promoting its spin-off that will operate coal and nuclear power stations – but the question remains, who will invest in this new company, Marlies Uken asks in Zeit Online: If one cannot earn money with conventional energy in the future, why should banks, investment funds or other companies invest in E.ON’s business? Teyssen argued that capacity markets and a revitalised market for emission allowances would improve conditions. But whether this really happens depends on political decisions, Uken says.

See the article in German here.

 

Wall Street Jounal

“Lights at E.ON remain faint”

In a Heard on the Street column, Thao Hua writes that even though the split-up of E.ON’s separate business strengths has raised its profile, investors should not expect this to solve their problems on the German energy markets. The move will indeed “surgically remove its troubled parts,” such as coal and nuclear operations. But the core business, focused on renewables, will face risks, such as dependence on renewables subsidies and the fact that green energy accounted for only 7% of the company’s 2013 Ebitda, Hua says.

Read the article in English here.

 

Reuters Breakingviews

"E.ON's 'bad power' spinoff offers little upside"

In a Breakingviews column, Olaf Storbeck writes that the E.ON will have to work hard to make the spin-off of its riskier assets tempting for investors. He says that the unit containing nuclear and fossil-fuel technologies represents about a third of the group’s Ebitda, worth around €10 billion, and will take over assets in Brazil and Russia, which although that could be interesting for emerging markets investors, will also pose currency risk. The spin-off will need a “generous dividend” to lure investors, he says.

Read the commentary in English here.

 

Die Welt

“The end of the energy giants”

Until now, the purely ecologically driven energy transition could always rely on financially strong “power giants” to provide back-up if the Energiewende experiment failed, Danel Wetzel comments in Die Welt. This is over now, he says, and with the split-up of E.ON the security net is gone. All of those who wanted “citizen’s energy,” are now close to seeing their dreams come true but it also means: “Germans are home alone with the Energiewende.”

See the op-ed in German here.

 

Spiegel Online

“Fears of an atomic bad bank”

Germany’s opposition Green Party accused E.ON of putting the assets of its seven nuclear power plants, slated for shut-down as part of Germany’s transition to a green economy, into a “bad bank,” while the German government said it assumes E.ON has put enough reserves aside to deal with the costs of the nuclear exit. E.ON’s CEO denied the accusations, but the worry is that taxpayers may have to foot the bill if the new company goes bust, the paper writes.

Read the article in German here.

 

taz

“Junk for the taxpayer”

Should E.ON’s spin-off company containing its hefty nuclear energy assets – and liabilities - go bust, politicians need to act now to prevent taxpayers from shouldering the burden, comments Bernward Janzing in the taz. For one thing, the company needs to name a realistic price for clean-up costs resulting from Germany’s nuclear power exit, he says. At the moment, companies have put aside reserves of €35 billion, which he says is a low-ball figure. Second, those reserves must be put in a trust, rather than remain at the discretion of the power companies, he writes.

Read the article in German here.

 

Bloomberg

“E.ON split to fortify German green energy transformation”

Bloomberg’s Stefan Nicola writes that E.ON’s decision to spin off fossil fuel operations is a “watershed moment” in the country’s green energy transition, and the “culmination of a push to wind, solar and other alternative energy forms.” The article cites Deputy Environment Minister Jochen Flasbarth as saying that the decision is a “piece of the puzzle” that has seen renewables take an ever-stronger role in the energy mix.

Read the article in English here.

 

Forbes

“Is E.ON’s big split the future of utilities?”

Forbes contributor Michael Kanellos calls E.On’s move to break up its old and new energy businesses “a living lab for viewing the future of the energy industry.” He points out arguments that fossil fuel assets may gain value as they are no longer shackled by efficiency issues and can sell power across Europe. He cites the possibility that renewables may “prove to be too intermittent” and the demand for the few remaining centralized power plants could then grow. On the other hand, renewables could gain as they become “cheaper and more reliable.”

Read the comment in English here.

 

RenewEconomy.com

“E.On dumps conventional generation to focus on renewables”

Giles Parkinson in the Australian clean energy news website, RenewEconomy.com, writes that E.ON is “divesting its fossil fuel interests before investors divest themselves of it.” He notes that the move follows other companies’ efforts to restructure in the face of the changing global energy market, and Australian energy companies will have to face the question of “how long they can continue to marry the ‘old and the new’  in the same organisation.”

Read the article in English here.

 

Süddeutsche.de / dpa

“Government comes to an agreement on the climate protection package”

Tomorrow the German cabinet will decide on the Climate Action Programme but government sources have already confirmed that an agreement has been reached between the ministers that Germany will cut 25 to 30 million tonnes CO2 by reducing energy consumption and some 22 million tonnes will be saved by the power sector, the dpa reports. The operators of Germany’s 500 power plants will be entitled to decide for themselves which stations they use less to reduce emissions – a law obliging them to CO2 reductions will be presented in 2015, the news agency writes.

See the article in German here.

 

The Christian Science Monitor

“First nuclear, now coal: Germany eyes expanded energy transition”

In a feature covering the debate over shutting down Germany’s coal-fired power plants, Nick Cunningham of the The Christian Science Monitor writes that the country is “already charting an impressive path forward with renewable energy.” The article covers the coal exit, but also the broad scope of the Energiewende.

Read the article in English here.

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