In the media: Floating wind turbines, RWE restructuring plans
"Wind turbines that can float"
The Dresden-based Gicon group is producing a prototype for a floating wind turbine (see picture above), Bernward Janzig from the taz reports. Instead of ramming its foundations into the sea floor, the wind turbine will sit on a base of floating tanks which are 32 metres long, 28 metres high and weigh 670 tonnes. Floating turbines can be constructed and repaired on shore, making their installation less dependent on weather conditions. They will also be less harmful to sealife, such as porpoises, and they can be installed in much deeper water than current ground-lodged offshore wind parks, Janzig writes. The prototype will be installed in the Baltic Sea near Stralsund later this year.
See the article in German here.
University of Erlangen
"Renewable energies saved German power consumers 11.2 billion euros in 2013"
The surcharge for renewable power has not led to higher electricity prices for German consumers – and has even substantially lowered the costs for industry, according to a study by the University of Erlangen for Siemens. “Without power generation from wind and photovoltaics, the price increases of the past years would have been even higher than the increases due to the renewable energy act,” the study found. Rather, the reason for rising power prices was a decline in conventional and nuclear generation capacities, and in particular the nuclear phase-out, the scientists said. Without the additional input from renewables, this drop in supply would have led to much higher market prices, they found.
See the study in German here.
See CLEW's Factsheet on consumer power prices here.
“RWE wants to merge daughter companies”
Reporting for the Rheinische Post, Antje Höning writes that in contrast to E.ON, which responded to the crisis in the conventional power sector by splitting in two, RWE wants to merge its subsidiaries with one another or with the parent company, RWE AG. The company has eight subsidiaries, some of which – including the German branch, RWE Deutschland AG – have subsidiaries of their own. With up to 20 members on each company’s supervisory board, trade unions have welcomed the plans to trim RWE’s unwieldy bureaucracy, the article says. RWE COO Rolf Martin Schmitz had already said that RWE’s green energy subsidiary, Innogy, could be merged with its conventional power operations. The article says RWE has been hit by the falling price of power as well as technical problems with a coal-fired plant in Westphalia.
See the article in German here.
See CLEW’s Factsheet on the German utilities here.
FAZ - Frankfurter Allgmeine Zeitung
“Gabriel puts his power line underground”
The German government wants to allay the concerns of residents near new power lines by putting more of the grid underground, the FAZ writes. Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Sigmar Gabriel has presented a draft law that envisages twice as many underground test routes for power lines than previously planned. One of the four new test lines is planned for the route between Wahle in Lower Saxony and Mecklar in Hesse, meaning it will pass through Minister Gabriel’s own constituency. Placing maximum-voltage power lines underground is up to six times more expensive than constructing overland power grids, the ministry paper says. However, buried lines are hoped to be more easily accepted by citizens.
Süddeutsche Zeitung / DW
“Setback for the nuclear power producers”
Germany’s largest utilities are unlikely to succeed with their legal action against the fuel elements tax, Markus Balser writes in an analysis piece for the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Advocat General Maciej Szpunar at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said that the tax which was implementd by the German government in 2011 was not in conflict with EU law. It is now unlikely that German nuclear plant operators E.ON, RWE and EnBW will receive the billions of euros in paybacks that they were hoping for, Balser writes. Since 2011 – previous to the Fukushima accident that triggered the re-instatement of the nuclear phase-out – the German government had introduced the tax of 145 euro to be paid for every gram of nuclear fuel. E.ON has so far paid 2.3 billion euros, RWE 1.23 billion and EnBW 1.1 billion. An E.ON spokesperson said the company wants to await the actual decision of the ECJ. The utilities are otherwise pinning their hopes on the ruling of the German Constitutional Court, where they lodged a complaint on the same issue.
See the Süddeutsche analysis in German here.
See a DW article in English here.
dpa Insight EU
“Energy Union strategy ambitious on climate protection”
In the run-up to a meeting of the European Union’s energy ministers on Friday in Riga, an internal paper on the EU’s Energy Union seen by dpa Insight EU shows a greater emphasis on renewable energies and green technology, the agency reports. However, environmentalists have criticised the paper, saying renewable energies are given the same status as “other domestic energy sources” including coal and natural gas. German MEP Martina Werner wants the Energy Union to strengthen renewable power and increase energy efficiency and grid expansion, the article says, while member states such as Poland and Britain insist that the promotion of shale gas and coal is just as important, in order to reduce dependency on Russian gas. The EU Commission’s finalised suggestions for an Energy Union are to be published on 25 February.