In the media: Havoc for utilities; a push for robot cars
“Why Germany’s nuclear power exit is causing havoc for utilities”
Financing the nuclear phase-out is the biggest challenge yet for Germany’s large utilities, which explains this week’s share slump, writes Tino Andresen in an analysis for Bloomberg. A financial analyst told the author the utilities face an extremely disadvantageous constellation, as politicians have to organise the nuclear disposal, while the companies have to pay for it. “RWE is trading at its lowest level since Bloomberg began to track the shares in 1992, while E.ON is at the lowest since it was formed in 2000.”
Read the article in English here.
Read a dossier on the utilities' struggle to cope with the Energiewende here.
Find a dossier about the challenges of the nuclear phase-out here.
Read the Factsheet “Securing utility payments for the nuclear clean-up” here.
Read last week’s article about E.ON’s nuclear strategy turnaround here.
“RWE: All or nothing”
RWE’s situation is catastrophic, writes Karl-Heinz Büschemann in a commentary for the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “There does not seem to be any halt on the way downhill. The shares are in free fall. Soon, the paper might cost less than ten euros, after it cost around 100 euros in 2008. In only seven years, a value of almost 50 billion euros was destroyed”, writes Büschemann. The company urgently needs a new strategy, but more time might be wasted at Friday’s meeting of the supervisory board with arguments about personnel decisions, he says. A nomination of former economy minister Werner Müller to chair the board would not send the right signal, argues Büschemann.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ)
“Nuclear waste puts pressure on coalition government”
Reports that utilities allegedly lack billions of euros for the nuclear clean-up are not only putting pressure on power company management and shareholders of RWE and E.ON, but also on the ruling coalition government, writes Andreas Mihm in the FAZ. The government wants to “clean up” this issue as fast as possible but the process is slow, Mihm says. An expert commission, slated to make proposals on how to safeguard the utilities' nuclear decommissioning and storage provisions has still not been set up. But this could also mean the coalition has already largely agreed on a solution, likely to involve placing the provisions in a public fund. The fascinating question remains: how long will the utilities remain responsible for the nuclear clean-up costs, Mihm writes.
Read a CLEW factsheet on securing utility payments for the nuclear clean-up here.
“RWE sells hydropower plants”
RWE wants to sell some of its hydropower stations, because they don’t make profits, “insiders” told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Officially, the company says the plans to sell a dozen plants with a total capacity of 7,200 KW are due to “organisational improvements”. The newspaper has learned that many investors are interested in the assets, and RWE says it plans to wrap up the sale by year-end. “Compared to gas- or coal-powered stations, these are mini-plants that don’t really fit into the usual company structures,” writes the author.
“Coal less popular than nuclear power”
Asked about their preferred electricity sources, a majority of Germans say they would prefer renewable sources, a survey by pollster Allensbach shows. 80 percent of participants would prefer their power to come from solar, 76 percent from wind energy, 8 percent from nuclear and 5 percent from coal, Die Zeit reports. Green politician Anton Hofreiter told the paper that this showed the population wanted to eliminate coal power.
Read the report in German here.
Süddeutsche Zeitung/Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI)
“Driverless at 130 kilometres per hour”
The government has approved the transport ministry’s (BMVI) strategy paper for automated and interconnected driving. “With digitalisation, we now face a historic mobility revolution,” the ministry said. Mobility will enter a “totally new dimension” as “driving will mutate from necessity to a new window for productive time.” Germany’s transport minister Alexander Dobrindt wants to present the paper to the current meeting of G7 transport ministers in Frankfurt, where the International Motor Show is also currently taking place.
“Just as with electro mobility, the government wants Germany to become a leading market and an international pioneer,” says an article about the paper in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Among other things, the government wants to push for an increase in speed limits for autonomous cars from 10 to 130 kilometres per hour.
Carmaker Mercedes-Benz dedicates almost an entire glossy supplement in Germany’s biggest daily newspapers to a concept car for autonomous driving. “Nobody has to drive a Mercedes,” the brochure reads. “Because soon, a Mercedes is going to drive itself.” In contrast, rival BMW is showing a conventional model in prominent double-page adverts.
Find the ministry’s strategy paper in German here.
“Sluggish sales of e-cars pushes carmakers to alliances”
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said at the car show in Frankfurt his company would be open to cooperation on the development of battery technology with rivals Audi and BMW, reports the FAZ. Over the weekend, VW CEO Martin Winterkorn had suggested Germany’s big carmakers should also find common solutions to the digitalisation of transport. Audi head Rupert Stadler said the three companies’ recent cooperation to purchase digital map maker, Here, should set an example for further alliances in the area of e-mobility, according to the report. “It’s pure desperation that is pushing the companies to these considerations, because the sale of e-cars is not getting traction despite all the lip service,” writes Bernd Freytag.
“How heat doesn’t blow out”
Small combined heat and power plants (CHP) can use up to 90 percent of the energy (from natural gas) they are fed because they produce electricity and heating for building blocks at the same time, writes Verena Kern in the Frankfurter Rundschau. But their proponents are worried that changes to the CHP law as proposed by the government will cut support for those mini-CHP plants whose power is mainly used for own-consumption.
“Billions for the regional businesses, profits for the public”
Researchers at the Institute for Future Energy Systems (IZES) have found that citizen-owned energy projects in 2012 added 5.3 billion euros in value to local economies and provided or retained 113,600 jobs. The money invested in the local projects stays mostly within the region instead of flowing into global financing, Bündnis Bürgerenergie and Greenpeace Energy, who commissioned the study, write in a press release. The IZES researchers identified various benefits of citizens' involvement in energy projects such as wind farms and solar power facilities. These benefits include, among others, that people who participate in energy projects are more accepting of the energy transition, and that capital and influence on the energy market is becoming less concentrated.
See the press release in German here.
Download the study in German here.
Read a CLEW dossier on the People’s Energiewende here.
Rhineland-Westphalia Institute for Economic Research (RWI)
Reform proposals for an efficient and sustainable energy policy
The current system of financial support for renewable energy in Germany urgently requires fundamental reform to ease consumer costs, argues a two-page “impact paper” by economic think-tank RWI. “Future support for renewables must be designed in a market-oriented way. This would force producers of green energy to react to the demands of consumers,” reads one of the action points the RWI recommends. The RWI says the current system is a burden especially for poor households, while many wealthy households benefit from the high returns many PV systems provide.
Read the paper in German here.