05 Jun 2015
Kerstine Appunn Sven Egenter Ellen Thalman

In the media: G7 seen setting climate agenda; Coal-fired plants lose money

Carbon Tracker Initiative

"Coal: caught in the EU utility death spiral"

New coal-fired power plants fail to generate positive cash-flows even under the most optimistic scenarios as the market conditions for utilities have been changing, the London-based Carbon Tracker Initiative says in a study entitled Coal – caught in the EU utility death spiral. The report analysed Vattenfall’s new Moorburg hard coal plant in Hamburg, Germany, and found that ‘stranding’ is almost inevitable. Modelling of its cash flows found that even if coal prices and carbon prices were low and the load factor high, the power plant struggled to make a profit, making it nearly impossible to recover its 3 billion-euro cost. “New German coal plants are struggling to break even in an optimistic scenario – there is only downside risk for operators. Utilities need to change their business models and move away from coal to avoid being left with stranded assets that don’t provide a return for shareholders,” said James Leaton, Carbon Tracker’s head of research in a media release.
The study shows how Germany’s E.ON and RWE, France’s Engie, Électricité de France, and Italy’s Enel, collectively lost 100 billion euros, or 37 percent of their stock market value from 2008 to 2013. The analysis found evidence that heavily coal-reliant utilities fared worse. Enel, performing best out of the five, generated the most renewable energy as a percentage of total generation, while Germany’s RWE, that performed worst, was more focused on coal generation.

Read the Carbon Tracker Initiative release here.

Read a Clean Energy Wire story on the Moorburg power plant here.


Dow Jones Newswires / German Government

"Germany wants to fight for the two-degree goal in Elmau"

The German government is working to include the goal of limiting global warming to two degrees in the statement of the heads of state and government of the seven leading industrialised countries meeting June 7 and 8 in Elmau, Bavaria, Christian Grimm writes for Dow Jones Newswires.
In a speech to the German Council for Sustainable Development, Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated the importance of the G7 role. “I think we should look towards the year 2050 in Elmau and commit to an ambitious CO2 reduction. A commitment to the two-degree goal is the least,” she said according to the German version of her speech text made available by the government.

Read the Dow Jones article in German here.

Find the German text of the speech here.

Read a CLEW preview on the G7 summit here.



“G7’s Energiewende: Right direction, wrong speed”

The seven largest industrialised countries have been expanding renewable energies much too slowly to effective cut their CO2 levels, Greenpeace says in a country-by-country overview of the G7’s energy mix ahead of its summit in Germany this weekend. While these countries achieved a share of renewables in the power mix (not including hydropower) of 8 percent as of 2013, CO2 emissions fell by only 1.3 percent in the period from 1990 until 2012, Greenpeace said. While these countries represent 10 percent of the world’s population, they are responsible for 26 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, it noted.

Read the paper in English here.


Süddeutsche Zeitung

“Climate Protection: The value of big words”

Important as they are for setting global goals, the results of international summits such at the one taking place in Bavaria’s Elmau this week, or the Paris climate summit at the end of this year have often been disappointing, writes Michael Bauchmüller in an opinion piece in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Frequently these have turned into disputes over details that result in a least common denominator decision from a very divided group of countries, he says. Despite this, much is actually happening on the ground in countries around the world, such as the expansion of renewables in India or public demands to improve air quality in China and the drastic fall in price for solar and wind parks, making them competitive with fossil-fired plants. The contribution of summits is to assure investors that countries are committed to change, because in the end it is investors who are financing the climate protection measures, he says.



 “We have a better solution”

The head of Germany’s miners’ union IG BCE, Michael Vassiliadis, reiterates in an interview with German business daily Handelsblatt that the union’s proposal to reduce CO2 emissions was the better way to achieve the government’s reduction goals. Asked about Wednesday’s meeting with energy minister Sigmar Gabriel, Vassiliadis told the paper that no agreement had been reached yet. “I am not unhappy with the course (of the meeting), but we do not have a result,” he said, adding that providing details or interim results was not helpful for the process.

See CLEW News Digest from 4 June for the latest on coal retirement policy in Germany here.


The Guardian

“Norway’s pension fund to divest $8 billion from coal, a new analysis shows”

An analysis by the environmental groups Urgewald and Greenpeace shows that the divestiture of Norway’s so-called oil fund, one of the largest pension funds in the world, from companies with over 30 percent of their profits from fossil fuels, will amount to around $8 billion, the UK daily Guardian writes. The article says this will affect 122 companies around the world, including German utilities E.ON and RWE.

Read the article in English here.

Read the Greenpeace and Urgewald analysis here


Agora Energiewende

“Rising exports of coal-fuelled electricity threaten German climate targets”

German coal-fired power stations are having an ever-greater effect on the European power mix, Berlin think-tank Agora Energiewende* has found. Growing exports to neighbouring countries are crowding out power from gas-fired plants and are raising overall CO2-emissions in Germany and other parts of Europe. This trend will increase in the coming years as European power markets become more integrated. An analysis by Agora Energiewende forecasts that Germany will fail to meet its 2020 climate protection goals (cutting emissions by 40 percent over 1990) or its 2030 goal (a cut of 55 percent) without political action. 

Read the whole press release in English here.

Download the study in German here.



“Sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind? The effect of wind turbines on residential well-being”

The  DIW German Institute for Economic Research has published a study on the effect of wind turbines on residential well-being, which looks at the effect of 20,000 wind turbines in Germany between the years 2000 and 2012. The study concludes that putting wind turbines near residential areas has a negative effect on people’s lives, but this negative effect “is much smaller than possibly expected.” The study also puts a monetary value on this “negative externality,” which demonstrates that having wind turbines near residential areas is comparably less damaging over time than the negative effects of CO2 emissions. Policy makers, however, cannot ignore opposition to wind turbines, the study says.

Read the study in English here.  



“Perspectives for a secure, affordable and environmentally sustainable energy supply in Bavaria”

The  DIW German Institute for Economic Research has published a study on securing Bavaria’s energy supply, which says that in general, the state’s energy supply is not threatened by the shutdown of nuclear power stations in 2022. These shutdowns will be compensated by surplus power from Germany and its European neighbours. A variety of measures – from new power stations to storage, to supply from Austria – will help to achieve this, the study says. Nevertheless, the researchers conclude that the network expansion must take care to ensure that the decrease in nuclear power is not offset by a rise in CO2 emissions from brown coal, which would not comply with energy policy goals in Bavaria.

Read the study in German here


*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
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