In the media: Linking Energiewende debates, modifying emissions trading, solar market comeback?
“The blind spot has to go“
It is good and important that the future of coal power in Germany is finally being discussed, Patrick Graichen, head of the Berlin based think-tank Agora Energiewende told Malte Kreutzfeld in an interview for the taz. The coal question used to be the “blind spot” of the Energiewende and because the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) doesn’t function the way it should, political action is now needed to reach the climate protection targets, Graichen said. He thinks the debates, currently taking place in parallel, about emission reduction targets on the one hand and energy security and coal powered stations as reserve on the other hand, should be linked.
Read the interview in German here.
“Modification of emissions trading in Europe demanded”
In a joint statement of 15 large countries in the European Union, the so-called Green Growth Group, called for an ambitious market stability reserve for the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). They suggest that around 2 billion tonnes of CO2 would be extracted from the trading scheme and transferred into the reserve, in order to increase the price for emissions allowances under the EU ETS, Andreas Mihm reports in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). The paper aims to put pressure on eastern European countries who remain in favour of coal and prefer the emissions allowances to be very cheap. Germany and the other members of the group would like to see the stability reserve implemented by 2017. The EU energy commissioner Miguel Cañete said that a reform of the EU ETS should be underway before the UN climate conference in Paris in December 2015.
Placing nuclear provisions into a state-operated fund as suggested by a joint environment and economy ministry paper earlier this week will possibly worsen the economic situation of the large utilities, Michael Bauchmüller writes in an opinion piece for the Süddeutsche Zeitung. But now may be the last chance to force them to free up some of the money they are obliged to set aside for nuclear waste disposal and power station decommissioning, Bauchmüller says. E.ON, which recently spun off its conventional energy operations, and Vattenfall Sweden, which waived liability for its German operations some time ago, both give the impression that they may not be able to pay for the nuclear clean-up in the future. Bauchmüller writes that failing to introduce the fund now could prove to be a "dangerous logic", as it would mean the state spares companies that are on shaky footing now in the hopes that they are solvent enough later to fulfil their obligations.
See a CLEW article on the nuclear fund discussion here.
“Coal on offer”
The Czech energy holding EPH is a favourite to purchase Vattenfall’s lignite business in Germany, Markus Balser reports in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. While Sweden's Vattenfall is ridding itself of nuclear and coal power in Germany and utility E.ON has decided to spin off its conventional energy operations, the EPH management under billionaire Daniel Kretinsky believes that he will be able to make money with coal in the years to come, Balser writes. EPH already owns eastern German lignite company Mibrag and has bought mining operations from E.ON in Helmstedt, Niedersachsen.
The brave new energy world of Chancellor Angela Merkel is her showcase, but many companies and utilities see their businesses at risk, Klaus Stratmann writes in the Handelsblatt. Massive privileges and subsidies for renewable energies are good for the climate but have proved disastrous for the whole energy system, Stratmann says. Now the utilities are also shouldering Germany’s plans to have the power sector cut another 22 million tonnes of CO2 by 2020 – regardless of the costs. While the German public remains strongly supportive of the Energiewende, industrial companies have been investing less in Germany in recent years, the author writes.
“Good energy, bad energy”
Horst von Buttlar writes in Capital that the division of E.ON is a sign of the “catastrophe” that is playing out on the German energy market as a result of the Energiewende. While many people applauded the move to put “old” technology into a spin-off company, and consolidate its core business in “new” technology – i.e. renewables, von Buttlar writes that E.ON’s “business model was destroyed by a political decision” – the Energiewende. He suggests that trying to meet all the goals of the Energiewende - switching to renewables and shutting down nuclear facilities by 2022, cutting emissions while maintaining a secure energy supply and competitiveness – is a task that will take more time than Germany has allotted.
Read the op-ed in German here.
“Hanwha has the patience”
In an interview with the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung, Eicke Weber, head of solar energy systems at the Fraunhofer Institute in Freiburg, says that German companies like Bosch and Siemens lacked the patience and foresight to weather the temporary downturn in the solar energy market a few years back. The solar industry has excellent growth potential, he says. The recent news that South Korea’s Hanwha, would merge its German subsidiary Q-Cells into its global photovoltaic operation, Solar One, shows that companies with staying power and long-term strategy have much to gain in the German market, while Germany continues to be at the forefront of the industry, according to Weber.
Dow Jones Newswires
Renewables association head Robert Busch warns against capacity market effects
In an interview in Dow Jones’ Energy Weekly, Robert Busch, the head of renewables association bne, warns that a general capacity market in the form that is currently being discussed will only serve to keep old, lignite-fired power stations on tap, because they can offer power most cheaply. The bne has favoured what it calls a “focused” capacity market, which would offer competitive compensation for new capacity and would support the building of additional, flexible network systems. The German government has put forth suggestions in a draft law, Green Book, for ensuring there is enough power available, for example even when there is a lull in solar or wind capacity.