In the media: Reactions to energy minister's coal comments
“Too much coal”
Everything points to a show-down between energy minister Sigmar Gabriel and environment minister Barbara Hendricks over how to limit Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to an opinion piece in the Frankfurter Rundschau. Hendricks is firm on the target of a 40 per cent CO2 reduction by 2020 but Gabriel objects to achieving this through a rapid phase-out of coal power. Gabriel's position sounds as if "copied from a paper of the coal trade union IGBCE", the author says.
“Saviour of lignite”
Gabriel is the new advocate for those who want to keep lignite mining in the east German region Lusatia alive, writes Thorsten Knuf in the Frankfurter Rundschau. If, as threatened, Swedish utility Vattenfall sells its coal business in Lusatia, around 8,000 jobs could be at risk. The Czech energy group EPH, which already owns German coal utility MIBRAG, has shown an interest in buying Vattenfall’s lignite assets, while RWE and EnBW said they were not considering an offer. Eon has yet to comment, the article says.
“On the way to being a coal buddy”
Minister Gabriel knows full well that coal-fired power stations have to go offline – anything else would endanger the energy transition, writes Fritz Vorholz in an opinion piece for Zeit Online. “Instead, he presents horror scenarios”, the article says. With coal emissions one reason Germany may miss its target of a 40 per cent reduction in CO2 by 2020, Gabriel will have to abandon his position by 3 December when cabinet is to decide on the measures needed to meet the goal, Vorholz writes. With energy accounting for an average of 2.1 per cent of production costs for German industry, Vorholz says it it "inappropriate" of Gabriel to “conjure an exodus of German industry”.
See the op-ed in German here.
“Trouble with coal”
Coal industry trade union IGBCE was one of few voices to applaud Gabriel’s pledge to keep coal in the mix for longer, writes Michael Bauchmüller in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Environmentalists like Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) and Germanwatch condemned Gabriel's “cheap coal populism” while The Left party accused him of “fearmongering” and the Green Party called for a roadmap for a coal exit.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
“Gabriel: Understanding coal”
Friends of the Earth Germany called on Chancellor Angela Merkel to rein in her energy minister Sigmar Gabriel following his strong pro-coal arguments, writes Andreas Mihm in an opinion piece for the FAZ, but she is unlikely to heed their call. As head of the Christian Democrats, Merkel views the fight between Gabriel and environment minister Barbara Hendricks - both Social Democrates, the junior partner in Merkel's coalition government - with a certain schadenfreude, writes Mihm.
“Fight over coal power: Economy experts of the Christian Democrats back Gabriel”
Shutting down coal-fired power stations would not benefit the climate and would cause power prices to rise, harming consumers, Joachim Pfeiffer, spokesman for the CDU on economy issues told Spiegel Online. “Power from coal is the life insurance for the German national economy,” Pfeiffer told the news platform.
See the article in German here.
“Gabriel at loggerheads with Greenpeace”
Faced with Greenpeace activists interrupting his speech at a conference of the German Energy Agency (Dena), Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel lambasted the "illusions of the Energiewende propaganda", Daniel Wetzel reports in the Hamburger Abendblatt. Gabriel accused the environmentalists of not taking responsibility for the 50,000 jobs in the coal industry and the fact that "whole value chains" could be forced to leave Germany if electricity prices rose.
Read the article in German here.
E.on, EnBW nine-month financial results
The decline in wholesale power prices caused by the growing share of renewables in the energy mix hit profits at E.on and EnBW, two of the four big utilities in Germany.
E.on saw its underlying net income fall by around 25 percent to 1.44 billion euros in the first nine months of 2014 compared to the same period last year, also citing currency effects as a reason for the drop.
EnBW reported a 10.5 percent fall in adjusted operating results (adjusted EBITDA) to 1.632 billion euros. EnBW posted a net loss of 770.6 million euros in the first nine months after it wrote down some 1.2 billion euros on its gas and coal fired power plants over the summer because it lowered expectations for future earnings from these plants.
See the E.on financial statement here.
Read a Bloomberg report on E.on here.
“Too much saved”
In the solar business, much has changed since the new Renwable Energy Act (EEG) came into effect in August 2014, writes Marlies Uken for Zeit Online. Feed-in tariffs for newly installed photovoltaic units were cut by 40 percent compared to 2012, but German homeowners continue to install the smallest kind of PV roof panels, as they don't have to pay the EEG surcharge on the power they generate and consume from this type of panel. Some are also installing batteries to store the energy they produce, with the help of loans from the development bank KfW. On the whole though, the German solar power market has been hit hard , the article says. The construction of large solar parks has come to a standstill as the industry awaits new rules to govern an auction process set to replace the system of feed-in tariffs.
See the article in German here.