“There’s no alternative to a nuclear fund”
In the fight over who will provide the billions of euros needed for nuclear decommissioning and storage, the utilities always seem to be two steps ahead of the government, writes Daniel Wetzel in an op-ed for Die Welt. The energy ministry’s plans to hold companies liable for clean-up costs, even if they spin off nuclear operations, has yet to be discussed in parliament. But E.ON has already said it will keep nuclear operations within the new, green part of the company instead of placing them in its spin-off company, Uniper. But only time will tell if the provisions are safer in that structure, Wetzel writes. “Eco-E.ON” will have to fight for survival in the renewables market with a lot of competition from decentralised, small producers, Wetzel says. In the end, the German government will probably only have one choice: to make the utilities place the money for nuclear decommissioning and storage in a state administered fund.
Read a CLEW article on E.ON’s U-turn on nuclear here.
Read a CLEW factsheet on nuclear funds here.
Read a CLEW dossier on the challenges of Germany's nuclear phase-out here.
“No one is allowed to evade their responsibilities”
The general public has fallen for Minister Gabriel’s “parents are liable for their children” law, designed to extend a company’s liability for its nuclear power operations even after spinning these off into a separate company, E.ON CEO Johannes Teyssen told the Handelsblatt in an interview. In his view, the “parent” for nuclear operations was the state because most nuclear power plant projects were originally state planned and/or owned. “This is a joint task,” Teyssen said. The returns from E.ON’s nuclear plants would be enough to finance their decommissioning and nuclear waste storage, he added.
Read the interview (behind pay wall) in German here.
Frankfurter Allgmeine Zeitung (FAZ)
“They’ve only got themselves to blame”
Did E.ON’s company leadership really believe it could get out of the “polluter pays” responsibility for the nuclear clean-up after five years by spinning off its nuclear operations into a new company? This sort of naiveté would be surprising in a utility that has been in the midst of political struggles for decades, says Andreas Mihm in a commentary for the FAZ. If this is the case, E.ON has brought the mess upon itself. Nevertheless, the government has devalued the business of the big utilities with the Energiewende (nuclear phase-out and move to a renewables-based power system), Mihm writes. Because of this, the state should cover some of the costs for the nuclear clean-up and limit the obligations for the power companies.
“Lots of tricks”
The draft law for extending companies' liabilities for their nuclear obligations has worked even before it was enacted, writes Michael Bauchmüller in an op-ed for the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Operation Uniper has failed,” Bauchmüller says, but this doesn’t make the new law redundant. The nuclear companies will keep trying to find ways of limiting their obligations, with E.ON CEO Johannes Teyssen now calling for a “joint responsibility of the state and utilities.” That is cheeky, writes Bauchmüller, because even though the state once supported nuclear power, it also made sure that utilities could make large profits with it.
“A terrible end”
Utilities operating nuclear power stations are facing the next blow, when the results of a stress test evaluating their nuclear clean-up provisions are published in autumn, according to a story by Jürgen Flauger and Klaus Stratmann in the Handelsblatt. According to information obtained by the Handelsblatt, the results suggest the nearly 39 billion euros in nuclear provisions may not have been properly discounted, as companies have been using an inflated interest rate of up to 4.7 percent in their accounting. If the interest rate were halved, provisions would have to double, which would be “killing them”, an insider told the authors.
The proposed law that would make companies liable for the nuclear clean-up of operations they spin off will also effect Vattenfall, Flauger and Stramann say. The draft law considers Swedish Vattenfall AB, which in 2012 split from the German part of the company, to still be the “controlling” company, meaning it remains liable for Vattenfall Germany’s nuclear obligations, they write.
Read a CLEW factsheet about safeguarding the utilities’ nuclear clean-up obligations here.
Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT)
“Electric vehicles lower costs and are good for the environment”
A new study coordinated at the KIT shows that electric cars can be less costly and more environmentally friendly than similar models with combustion engines, researchers have found. They tested a fleet of e-cars from RheinMobil over two years, driving 300,000 kilometres. E-cars were ideal for commuting to and from work and as company cars. For climate protection it was essential that they were charged with 100 percent renewable power. Assuming this, after 30,000 km, e-cars were more environmentally friendly than petrol cars, taking into account the complete life-cycle of the car. Once an e-car reaches 200,000 km, it has redeemed its investment costs. Then it begins to get cheaper than a petrol car, which is more expensive to operate, the researchers found. The study will be presented at the IAA in Frankfurt on 22 September.
Read the press release in German here.
Download the study in German here.
Climate Action Network (CAN)
European Coal Map
CAN Europe has compiled a range of interactive (or pdf) maps of Europe, showing the status of coal plants, coal financing, health impact of coal burning and CO2 emissions in Europe.
See/download the maps here.