28 May 2015 | Sören Amelang, Ellen Thalman

In the media: Germans pay high power prices; Coal "dirty and poisonous"

Eurostat/ZEW

German households pay second highest power price in EU

Household electricity prices in Germany are among the highest in the EU. According to the EU’s statistics office Eurostat, German households on average paid 29.7 euros per 100 kWh in the second half of last year. Prices were higher only in Denmark at 30.4 euros. The average electricity price in the EU was 20.8 euros, an increase of almost three percent compared to a year earlier. “Since 2008, electricity prices in the EU have increased by more than 30 percent,” Eurostat said in a press release. The share of taxes and levies in total household electricity prices was also highest in Germany (52 percent) and Denmark (57 percent), compared with an EU average of 32 percent. German household electricity prices this year fell for the first time in more than ten years, according to price comparison website verivox.
Economic think tank ZEW said high energy prices are a particularly heavy burden on poorer households. “In the future, more attention will have to be paid to cost efficiency and social balance so German energy and climate policy is sustainable in the long term,” said ZEW researcher Peter Heindl in a press statement. “Only a fair distribution of the burden can make climate protection and everybody’s participation in wealth possible.”

Read the Eurostat press release in English here.

Find the ZEW commentary and a link to a ZEW study on the topic here.

Read the CLEW factsheet on what German households pay for power here.

Read a recent CLEW news article about electricity prices and the poor here.

 

taz.de/Greenpeace

“Not only dirty, but also poisonous”

German coal power plants are responsible for a large part of the country’s mercury emissions, according to a Greenpeace study cited by taz.de. The environmental organisation said the government was not doing enough to protect citizens against health damages caused by the extremely poisonous substance. German coal power stations are currently allowed to emit 30 micrograms of mercury per cubic metre of smoke. The government supports the EU’s plan to reduce this limit to 10 micrograms from 2020, but modern filter technology already can reduce this value to one microgram today, Greenpeace said according to the article. The environment ministry told the paper a reduction to 10 micrograms was an ambitious goal at EU level and that a stricter limit might not be adopted in all EU member states.

Find the article in German here.

Read the Greenpeace press release here.

 

Federal Statistics Office

German traders sold more of most potent greenhouse gas in 2014

German gas traders sold 13% more sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), the strongest of all greenhouse gases, for use in various economic sectors, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) reports. The sale of 917 tonnes was a rise of 104 tonnes over 2013 and, but a decline of 16% or 178 tonnes compared with 2012. Greenhouse gases contribute to global warming, Destatis noted, adding that SF6 has an effect 22,800 times greater than the greenhouse gas effect of CO2 over a period of 100 years. The 2014 equivalent  climate effect would be that of 21 million tonnes of CO2, Destatis said. Nevertheless, it added that this entire amount was not released into the atmosphere, as some of it was used in closed systems, at least for now. It is mostly used in electrical and equipment manufacturing.

Read the statistics office press release in English here or a longer version in German here.

 

Financial Times

“Norway oil fund plans to withdraw fom coal-burning utilities” 

Norway’s parliament is likely to agree to divest its $916 oil fund from companies whose businesses rely more than 30 percent on coal, which could threaten utilities that use  coal to make electricity, the Financial Times reports.  The paper cites a member of the parliament's finance committee as saying that while it has not looked into which companies might fall under the new rules, German utilities RWE and E.ON, as well as Sweden's Vattenfall are likely to be affected. The plan is another of a number of efforts around the world to withdraw from the use of fossil fuels due to their contribution to climate change, the newspaper said. The pension fund, whose capital stems from Norwegian oil profit, rather than traditional pension contributions, is one of the largest in the world. The divestiture would comprise around $9-$10 billion, the newspaper says, and would be decided on the basis of how much revenue a company derives from fossil fuel or by the percentage of power they generate from it. Parliament will vote on the measure June 5.

Read the article in English here.

 

Recharge

"Compromises threaten to leave Germany's RE dream off-target"

Bernd Radowitz writes in the online newsletter Recharge that recent political developments in Germany threaten to slow down its energy transition and throw a wrench in efforts to curb climate change.  He says Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has “downsized its ambitions” to cut the use of coal in power production due to pressure from coal interests, after already enacting policies that have curbed wind and solar power expansion. Along with energy minister Sigmar Gabriel, Radowitz says Merkel needs “to decide whether they want to continue to appease heavy industries and the large fossil generating utilities, or opt to be in the vanguard of climate protection once again and lead the way to a more climate friendly energy consumption on all levels.”

Read the article in English here.

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