In the media: GE, Telekom in smart grid pact; Wind turbines harm bats
“GE and Deutsche Telekom join forces for energy transition”
US industrial conglomerate General Electric and Deutsche Telekom will cooperate to offer new solutions for smart electricity grids, the companies announced at the industry trade fair E-world energy & water in Essen. GE wants to use its grid experience and Deutsche Telekom will be in charge of data transmission and processing. “The coordination of information and telecommunication technology is a crucial factor for the success of the energy transition,” said Cavin Pietzsch, general manager of GE Energy Management. “Digital solutions will optimise all components of our energy systems, from generation to storage, transmission as well as distribution to consumers.” In a separate opinion piece on the cooperation, Ina Karabasz writes in the Handelsblatt that the companies’ foremost task will be to persuade politicians and households that the data is safe. Many people still remember stories about hacked smart meters from the time Deutsche Telekom first pushed the technology a few years ago, warns Karabasz.
Read the article in German here.
Innovationsreport/European Journal of Wildlife Research
Study: German wind turbines might kill more than 250,000 bats per year
Many more bats might be killed by wind turbines than previously thought, according to a new study cited by Innovationsreport and other media. Big differences in air pressure near the blades can rupture bats’ internal organs but in many cases, the animals continue to fly for a while, which means their bodies won't be found near the turbines and thus not counted, according to the study by the Leibniz-Institut für Zoo- und Wildtierforschung published in the European Journal of Wildlife Research. According to the scientists, more than 250,000 bats could be killed by wind turbines in Germany every year, many of them migratory species. Because of its central geographic location, Germany has a special responsibility to those animals, argue the authors of the study.
See a the article in German in innovationsreport here.
Read an abstract of the study in English here.
“Germany’s green goals have profound consequences for E.ON and RWE”
In an article examining how German utilities are coping with competition from renewable energy producers, Jeevan Vasagar and Pilita Clark compare the divergent business models utilities E.ON and RWE are pursuing. Because of Germany’s shift away from fossil and nuclear fuel, the utilities, which long dominated the power market, are competing with smaller renewables providers. Until now, they have largely stuck to business models that still derive most of their revenues from nuclear and coal-fired generation, but they have been pummeled by declining wholesale prices triggered by the rise in renewables. While E.ON is splitting its operations into “new” and “old” energy, RWE is for now sticking to its traditional model. Analysts in the piece say utilities around the world will have to reconsider their models as countries introduce renewable into the power mix, and these utilities will be closely watching how E.ON’s new approach pans out.
Read the article in English here.
Read the CLEW factsheet on utilities here.
Government increases hurdles for sale of uranium company
German energy minister Sigmar Gabriel has for the first time named the government’s conditions for a sale of the uranium company Urenco, according to a report in Süddeutsche Zeitung. A potential buyer will need to abide by a set of 13 guidelines, ranging from strategic and financial issues but also including the condition that the government can interfere in business and personnel decisions to safeguard nuclear security, according to a letter the minister sent to the Green Party. Urenco might be worth ten billion euros, specialises in uranium enrichment and has the technology to build nuclear bombs, the article says. German utilities RWE and E.ON together own a third of the company and want to sell because the nuclear business in Europe stagnates, the article says. Great Britain and the Netherlands also own a third each.
“Lessons for the US in Germany’s energy transition”
Germany is now reaping substantial benefits from its transition to renewables and exit from nuclear power, writes Stephanie McClellan in a blog for The Hill. The Director of the University of Delaware’s offshore wind project says the US should follow Germany’s lead, taking advantage of the opportunities the East Coast offers for offshore wind, in order to achieve greater energy independence. The US, as a “second mover” after Germany, can reap advantages from Germany’s “trial and error” lessons, she says.
Read the article in English here.
“Guest commentary: The Vattenfall Model”
Vattenfall should hang onto its lignite assets in Germany and gradually shut them down by 2030, writes Brigitte Behrens, head of Greenpeace Germany, in an opinion piece in the Handelsblatt. Sweden is eager to get rid of the dirty state-owned coal operations, which produce more carbon emissions in a year than all of Sweden, she says, but selling them to a new owner does nothing toward solving the emissions problem, she writes. Instead, the operations will merely be transferred to a new owner. Vattenfall would still earn well over the next 15 years from the lignite operations, and could become an example of how an energy company adjusts its business model to the demands of the new energy market, she says.
“Renewables have made power cheaper for German industry”
A discussion paper by the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg made headlines by saying renewables were responsible for cheaper electricity and a more reliable power supply, but Craig Morris of Energytransition.de says the study's assumptions are unrealistic, even if they are interesting. The study shows how certain scenarios, for example keeping nuclear plants open, are "taboo," even if they could help save money. Morris says the “real message” of the researchers highlights the fact that the nuclear phase-out makes additional capacity like gas turbines and storage technologies imperative. The study was commissioned by Siemens, and Morris writes that the positive message reflects Siemens shift from "unrealistic criticism of the Energiewende to unrealistic cheerleading for it."
See the blog-post in English here.