In the media: Job cuts in brown coal and exemptions for industry
“A fight for survival”
Due to recent government decisions to mothball some lignite plants, utility RWE will cut 900 to 1000 jobs in the western German lignite industry, which currently employs 10,000 people, reports the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “It is a fight for survival,” said Matthias Hartung, head of RWE’s conventional power generation, according to the newspaper.
Read the article in German here.
“In the face of growing competition, German chemicals industry invests abroad”
German chemical companies have been increasing foreign investment at a rate nearly six times greater than domestic investment spending this year, partly due to high energy costs, according to a report by credit insurer Euler Hermes, a subsidiary of Allianz. Euler Hermes forecasts foreign investment will rise 17 percent in 2015, and spending in Germany by 3 percent. “The gap between foreign and domestic investment will widen even further in 2016, with a 9 percent increase abroad and only a 1 percent increase in Germany,” says the report. “The uncertainties surrounding Germany’s energy policy have affected the country’s chemicals industry.” The sector is the world’s export leader and has significantly increased energy efficiency to compensate for the otherwise competitive disadvantage of high energy costs, according to the report.
Read the press release in English here.
Because he wants to advocate “blue growth” as opposed to “green” environmental protection, Eike Weber, head of Europe’s largest solar research institute Fraunhofer ISE in Freiburg will run for the liberal democratic party FDP – not the Green Party – in the next state election in Baden-Württemberg. In an interview with Craig Morris at Renewables International, Weber describes how he believes that protecting the blue planet for humankind requires growth and investment while supporters of the Green Party usually advocate the need for less power consumption and more frugal lifestyles. He would therefore support large hydropower projects that destroy the local environment because “from a blue perspective, they are very valuable projects, because they generate dispatchable renewable electricity.” The FDP has been one of the most vocal parties to oppose renewables, Morris explains. The FDP, traditionally a small but influential party, lost its representation in parliament in the last federal election for the first time since the founding of the Federal Republic.
Read the interview in English here.
“Renewables sort it out by themselves”
Renewable energies contribute more strongly to their own integration into the power grid than previously thought, write Jochen Schwill and Hendrik Sämisch, founders of Next Kraftwerke, a company specialising in the integration of renewables. They say the need for flexibility in the power market actually decreased between 2007 and today, because power trading and networks have become much more sophisticated. They cite virtual power plants as an example and argue: “Already today, renewables partly reduce the fluctuations they cause.” But they say bureaucratic hurdles will make the next phase of renewable integration more difficult.
Read the article in German here.
“The German feed-in tariff is a revenue-raising instrument, not a subsidy”
In a blog post for energytransition.de Andreas Kraemer, Founding Director and former CEO of Ecologic Institute, says that the feed-in tariff for renewable power is not a subsidy as many foreign observers often think, but a revenue-raising instrument that stimulates the renewable industry. The wind, solar and biomass businesses and their employees pay taxes and social security contributions, earning the government and municipalities billions of euros in fiscal revenue – that is the opposite of what a subsidy does, Kraemer writes.
Read the blog post in English here.
Green Party criticises billions of euros in exemptions on industry power bills
The Green Party has received government figures on how many companies are (partially) exempt from paying the renewable energy surcharge on the power they consume. By the end of June, 2268 energy intensive businesses had applied for the exemption for 2016, they told German news agency dpa, valued at around 4.8 billion euros, similar to the 2015 figure. Green MP Bärbel Höhn told dpa that Economy and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel had failed to reduce the amount by one billion euros as he had promised. It was hard to explain to people with low incomes why they had to pay an extra 60 euros per year for their power to lower the bills for flourishing chemical companies, Höhn said.
Die Tageszeitung - taz
“One cannot gamble away reserves”
German power companies are not gambling away their reserves for decommissioning and storing radioactive waste from their nuclear power plants, says Norbert Allnoch, head of the International Economic Forum for Regenerative Energies (IWR). In an interview with Bernward Janzing at taz, he says that it is also wrong to believe that nuclear plant operators have actually saved the money for clean-up and storage. The reserves are an obligation secured by assets such as power plants, he said. These are required to earn money to pay off debts, Allnoch explains, saying that because of this, large utilities like RWE therefore now need new business opportunities to be able to pay for nuclear decommissioning and storage in the future.
Greenpeace Energy et al.
“Company alliance issues legal complaint against EU commission”
An alliance of ten Austrian and German companies (Greenpeace Energy, Energieversorgung Filstal, oekostrom AG, Stadtwerke Aalen, Stadtwerke Bietigheim-Bissingen, Stadtwerke Bochum, Stadtwerke Mainz AG, Stadtwerke Mühlacker, Stadtwerke Schwäbisch Hall GmbH, Stadtwerke Tübingen) today filed legal action with the European Court of Justice, challenging the EU Commission’s approval of over 100 billion euros in subsidies for the British nuclear project Hinkley Point C. These subsidies could significantly distort the European power market, the plaintiffs claim.
Read the press release in German here.
“When everybody wants to drive electric”
In an article for Zeit Online, Christoph Schwarzer looks at three scenarios for the structure of Germany’s transport sector in the future and how likely these are. One is the vision that every vehicle would become electric, enabled by making roads into inductive charging systems. Another – quite likely scenario – foresees a slow increase in battery powered cars while most lorries will keep driving with petrol. The third option would include much hydrogen-powered transport, which would also be beneficial as a means of power storage.
Read the article in German here.