The German nuclear power sector's final battle is currently being fought on paper, writes Markus Balser in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The likes of E.ON and RWE are preparing legal proceedings against the government’s 2011 decision to immediately shut down several nuclear power stations, saying that it caused them huge financial losses. E.ON lost 8.9 billion euros in company value between May and June 2011, the utility’s petition says, according to Balser. But this is not the only front the utilities are fighting on – the rapid development of renewable power sources is pushing large power stations out of the market. At RWE, between 20 and 30 percent of power plants don’t cover their own operating costs, Balser writes. E.ON, RWE and EnBW have some tough weeks ahead of them as they will face heavy criticism at the coming annual stakeholder meetings, he says.
See the article in German here.
See CLEW's Dossier on the German utilities here.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ)
“Exit from coal”
Leading politicians in Germany's coalition government are preparing a coal phase-out, even if they don't want to say it yet, writes Andreas Mihm in an opinion piece for the FAZ. But the government’s decision to force additional CO2 savings in the power sector raises questions, he says. For example, why aren’t the transport and the agricultural sectors – whose emissions are rising – not obliged to do more? Instead, the coalition puts pressure soley on the power stations, with a “penalty tax” for power plants that are too old and emit too much CO2, Mihm writes. In effect, cheap brown coal is being devalued and both utilities and trade unions fear for the industry’s survival. For energy minister Sigmar Gabriel, this could pose a problem – he is fighting trade unions, important sectors of industry, and state governments in North-Rhine Westphalia, Saxony and Brandenburg all at the same time.
See CLEW's Factsheet on coal in Germany here.
BAFA / Frankfurter Allgmeine Zeitung
“Industry pays more for eco-power”
The reform of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) in 2014 has led to fewer industrial companies being exempt from paying the EEG surcharge, a levy on the power price used to support the development of renewable energies, the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA) said in a press release. Instead of 370 million euros in 2014, companies will contribute 630 million euros to the EEG surcharge in 2015. “Keeping the industry rebates in the energy intensive sectors helps industrial production in Germany and prevents companies from moving abroad,” the BAFA press release says. In 2015, 2,180 companies will be exempt from paying the renewable surcharge on 107 gigawatt-hours power, worth 4.8 billion euros, the FAZ reports. The exemption is often criticised by environmental groups and green politicians, the FAZ writes, who say that industry is given advantages while normal households pay more for renewable development.
“Save our most beautiful spots from wind turbines”
In a long op-ed for Die Welt, Dankwart Guratzsch says it’s important that nature reserves are kept wind turbine-free, and that local citizen initiatives to prevent “wind machines” from being built in the Pfälzerwald in Rhineland-Palatinate are an important success. A new conflict among the environmentally conscious is arising, Guratzsch writes, with some in favour of the energy transition and more renewable power, while others want to protect forests, biodiversity and the natural landscape. Guratzsch argues that planning rules for wind parks have led to turbines being built in the most remote, ecologically important and biodiverse regions. Tourism in these areas suffers too, because wind parks are positioned in “non-fragmented and aesthetically valuable” areas.
See the article in German here.
See a CLEW report on the Energiewende and tourism here.