04 Jun 2015
Sören Amelang Kerstine Appunn Ellen Thalman

In the media: Industry joins mining union's fight against coal levy


Industry Association joins forces with mining union to combat coal levy

Leading German industry association BDI has thrown its weight behind mining union IG BCE’s efforts to thwart government plans for the introduction of an additional levy on old coal-fired power stations. Both groups on Thursday jointly published a study, arguing a reserve of power stations with particularly high emissions and additional support for combined heat and power plants could protect the climate much more cheaply than the climate levy planned by the energy ministry.
According to the analysis by consultancy Frontier Economics, the ministry plan would cost consumers an additional 4.3 billion euros until 2020, whereas IG BCE’s plan would only cost 1.1 billion euros. “In contrast to the climate levy, the implementation of the IG BCE proposals avoids extensive structural ruptures and the loss of jobs”, BDI president Ulrich Grillo said in a statement. He added the climate levy proposed by the government would unsettle investors and also permanently disrupt European emissions trading.
The IG BCE plans suggest the establishment of a capacity reserve for power plants, which exit the power market and are kept in reserve to secure the power supply when output from renewables is low. After spending four years in this reserve, the power stations would be shut down, according to the plans.  

Read the study in German here.

Read a CLEW article about the dispute about the coal levy here.


Hamburger Abendblatt

Gabriel – Union proposal on coal levy could form basis for compromise  

Economics and energy minister Sigmar Gabriel said he expected to settle the dispute about the coal levy soon and that the union propsal (see above) prepared the ground for a compromise. “One thing is clear: We need to manage both climate protection and job security and we must not play one of the two against the other. My impression is the following: The proposals from North Rhine-Westphalia’s economy minister Garrelt Duin and the head of coal mining union IG BCE offer a possible basis for this”, Gabriel said in an interview with Hamburger Abendblatt. He assured that there would be an agreement on the future power market design and the contested climate levy on old coal-fired power stations before parliament’s summer recess starting in early July.
Gabriel also said he was optimistic about finding a solution on the construction of new power lines to southern Germany, which would involve laying longer stretches of the cables underground. The German government is currently preparing to “stress-test” nuclear operators to see whether they can pay for the decommissioning of nuclear plants as required by law, according to Gabriel.  

Read the interview in German here.

Read the CLEW dossier about the utilities’ fight for survival here.

Read a CLEW article about the dispute here.



“We’re not afraid of Google & Co.”

Utilities can still earn money with the Energiewende, argues the CEO of Germany’s largest utility E.ON, Johannes Teyssen in the Handelsblatt. He said financial investors’ appetite for grids, the development of smart energy services and the rapid growth of renewables forecast by the International Energy Agency (IEA), are all examples of business opportunities. Teyssen said E.ON keeps an eye on new rivals such as Google and Tesla, but added: “We’re not afraid of Google & Co.”
Teyssen forecast digitalisation will be the most decisive development in coming years and added that cooperation with other companies in that area will become an important subject. He told the paper Europe seemed serious about reducing CO2 emissions and said this was an important signal for investors.


Frankfurter Rundschau

“Czech Republic puts brakes on German wind power”

The Czech Republic is building a large power break in order to reduce the stress German wind power can cause in its grid, reports Frankfurter Rundschau. Because Germany doesn't have enough power lines connecting the breezy north with the energy-hungry south, as well as connecting pumped hydroelectric plants in Austria, a large amount of German wind power passes through the Czech grid, according to the paper. A giant isolating transformer costing 73 million euros is now installed and will become operational at the end of 2016, reports the newspaper.

Read the article in German here.

Read a CLEW dossier on Germany's power grid expansion here.


Zeit Online

“European Court approves tax on fuel elements”

German nuclear power station operators have failed in their legal proceedings against a tax on fuel elements – the tax is not in breach of EU law, the European Court of Justice found in Luxembourg. Zeit Online reports that utilities E.ON, RWE and EnBW had sued against the tax that came into effect in 2011 and hoped to receive a 5 billion euro refund. Shares of RWE and E.ON dropped after the ruling, Zeit Online writes. The German Constitutional Court will decide on the same issue in the second half of the year.

Read the article in German here.



 “Power line standoff holds back Germany’s green energy drive”

Against the backdrop of the G-7 climate summit this week in Bavaria, Reuters describes in a feature the controversy in some Bavarian towns slated for high-voltage power lines to carry wind power from northern to southern Germany. Michael Nienaber writes that the issue is likely to be a big topic in the coming weeks, as the government has set a deadline of the end of June or early July to decide whether the power lines will be built. The transmission lines are seen as crucial to the advancement of Germany’s Energiewende.

Read the article in English here.



“Merkel under pressure on coal ahead of G7 climate push”

Even as Germany hosts the G7 summit this week in Bavaria, pushing its partners for a deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions, Chancellor Angela Merkel is under fire for the country’s use of coal-fired plants to produce electricity, writes Mathilde Richter of afp. While the country has invested heavily in renewables, it still draws 45 percent of its gross power production from coal, she says, adding that this is undermining Germany’s credibility as it seeks a deal on CO2 cuts. Once known as the “Climate Chancellor,” Merkel now faces criticism as her government is locked in battle with the coal industry over a plan to cut emissions so that Germany can meet its goal of a 40 percent reduction by 2020 over 1990 levels.

Read the article in English here.


The Energiewende Blog

“Madness by design: A voluntary climate levy with no climate effect”

In an opinion piece on the Heinrich Böll Stiftung’s Energiewende blog, affiliated with the Green Party, Lili Fuhr writes that the government’s plan to cut CO2 emissions from coal has “morphed” from a plan to shut down coal-fired plants to one that now prevents any shut-downs at all. This is because some members of economy and energy minister Sigmar Gabriel’s own Social Democratic Party, together with unions and the coal industry, have pushed hard to water down Gabriel’s original “climate levy” plan, writes the head of the Foundation’s department of ecology and sustainable development. The plan would require companies to pay an extra fee to emit CO2 when they have exhausted their allotted share of emissions certificates. Fuhr outlines the changes to the original plan and says these mean the plan will now only save 16 million tonnes of CO2 per gigawatt of installed capacity, rather than the 22 million tonnes the government says it needs to cut. The rest should come from the transport and heating sector, but Fuhr says this raises a number of questions, among them, why the government wasn’t able to come up with such further savings in the first place, which could have saved even more CO2.

Read the article in English here.


Die Welt

“This radical idea is meant to save the climate”

The Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW Köln) has come up with a new climate protection strategy aimed at reaching an accord at the United Nations climate summit in Paris in December, according to Die Welt, which has seen the IW report. The concept suggests burden sharing between industrialised and emerging countries, which would be based on the relative wealth of each country, as well as taking into account growth potential. IW suggests that it would not be necessary to get all 193 countries participating in the summit to agree on conditions, but rather a mere 15 countries that contribute most to global CO2 emissions would be “small enough to get an agreement that balances out their interests, but big enough to make a considerable contribution to global climate protection.”

Read the article in German here

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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