There are worrying parallels between the current E.ON split into two separate companies and the finance industry’s spinning off of risky assets into bad banks in the aftermath of the financial crisis, writes Markus Balser in a commentary for Süddeutsche Zeitung. “The next industry is offloading what it perceives as too risky… the public’s distrust is justified,” writes Balser. He argues that it remains totally unclear how the new company called “Uniper”, which will inherit E.ON’s fossil and nuclear activities, is meant to survive economically. “Yet again, colourful brochures are printed and risks relabelled as opportunities. And yet again, it will probably become expensive for tax payers,” concludes Balser.
E.ON announced details this week of its split into two companies, one focused on renewables, power grids and energy services and the other, to be called Uniper, on conventional power.
See the commentary in German here.
“The Uniper Experiment”
The E.ON split is an experiment whose outcome is yet unclear, writes Helmut Bünder in a commentary for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “E.ON offloads practically all its big risks into the spin-off. Focussing on two very different divisions, old-style power plants on one hand and a decentralised new energy world on the other, certainly brings opportunities. Perhaps it is the only way out of the crisis,” writes Bünder.
“Slalom into risk”
The planned levy on old coal-fired power plants is hasty and comes with big legal risks, writes former economy minister Wolfgang Clement in a guest column for Handelsblatt. The levy would be the beginning of the end of brown coal in Germany, which is the cheapest energy source and requires neither imports nor subsidies, according to Clement. “As long as there are no sufficient technologies to store renewable energy, the simultaneous exit from nuclear and coal is at least an absurdity,” writes Clement, who argues the recently approved rules for fracking are far too strict. Germany should abandon the aim of reducing CO2 emissions by 40 percent by 2020 and instead switch to the EU’s timetable of 2030. “This wouldn’t cost Germany anything – except a few headlines,” concludes Clement.
Clement used to be a member of Gabriel's Social Democrats (SPD). He left the party in 2008 after a quarrel over energy policy, in which he opposed the exit from nuclear and coal.
“Climate fee for coal-fired power stations is counterproductive”
The proposed levy on old coal-fired power stations is “inefficient, drives up costs and offers few investment incentives,” according to Karen Pittel, director of the Ifo Center for Energy, Climate and Exhaustible Resources. The levy would not help to lower emissions, but rather further erode European emissions trading, which is undermined by market interventions, warned Pittel at the start of a workshop on the potential comeback of coal, according to a brief press release. Pittel also argued that the levy threatened to increase the costs of the Energiewende without providing investment incentives for surplus capacities. According to CESifo, Pittel’s statement is not based on a new study but on her personal assessment of the proposal.
See the press release in English here.
Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy
"Whoever says this is a coal exit, doesn't know the figures"
The German government's planned climate levy does not constitute an exit from coal-fired power generation, the parliamentary state secretary at the energy ministry, Uwe Beckmeyer (SPD), said at a conference of the Fraunhofer Energy Alliance in Berlin. "Whoever says this is a coal exit, doesn't know the figures," Beckmeyer said. "We don't want structural ruptures," he added. "We want to achieve our climate goals." Beckmeyer said energy minister Sigmar Gabriel had asked the utilities for their own ideas on how to achieve the necessary reduction in carbon emissions, but failed to get a sensible answer. Relying on the purchase of emission certificates, as suggested by a conservative politician, did not make sense given the massive oversupply in the European emissions trading system, Beckmeyer said, speaking at the Fraunhofer-Energietage, a two-day conference on the Energiewende and its role for Germany as a location for industry.
Federal Grid Agency / Süddeutsche Zeitung
“Photovoltaic auction spurs real competition”
The Federal Grid Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) has published the results of the first auction of 150 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic capacity. Of 170 bids, 25 were sucessful. The average sucessful bid was 9.17 ct/kWh, for projects with an average capacity of 6.3 MW. The highest bid tendered (unsuccessful) was 11.29 ct/kWh. Bundesnetzagentur President Jochen Homann said the high number of tenders was a sign of intense competition over the operation of ground-mounted solar parks. Seven bids were made by private individuals – but were unsucessful. Many others were small projcet developers. A single company was awarded over 40 percent of the auctioned capacity, the press release says. 37 bids were rejected because they didn’t fulfil certain requirements. Successful projects have two years to realise their installations.
The Süddeutsche Zeitung pointed out that the tenders, which were introduced to make solar power cheaper, resulted in a slightly higher price than the 9 ct/kWh currently paid to photovoltaic power producers, which was set by government.
See the press release in German here.
See the list of successful photovoltaic projects in German here.
See CLEW's report on the auction scheme here.
“The bottom-up energy transition is in danger”
Citizen initiatives are the driver of the transformation to a low-carbon economy based on renewable energies – but are they being throttled by recent changes in the law, asks Phillipp Banse in a radio report for Deutschlandradio Kultur. Speaking to researchers and founders of renewable start-ups, Banse gives an overview of the status of citizen’s energy in Germany and what the different projects' next moves will be.
Listen to the programme and download the transcript in German here.
See CLEW's Dossier on citizens' energy here.
“Additional exemptions from the EEG surcharge”
Another 80 companies could profit from being exempt from paying the renewables surcharge on power, the government writes in a reply to the Green Party parliamentary group. The privileged companies would save around 4.2 million euros, increasing the EEG- urcharge for other consumers by 0.001 ct/kWh. The Green Party also asked whether the government knew if some of the newly privileged companies existence had been threatened by international competition and the renewables surcharge. It knew of such cases, the government replied, but could not publish details due to company privacy rules.
See the questions and government reply in German here.
EurActive / Reuters
“EU solar producers launch new action against Chinese rivals”
EU ProSun, an association of European solar panel producers, has lodged a complaint with EU regulators, saying Chinese manufacturers are selling at lower prices than permitted under EU import duties, EurActive reports. Up to 30 percent of Chinese solar imports were sold at dumping prices by routing produce via Taiwan and Malaysia, which are not subject to the EU tariff, Milan Nitschke, president of EU ProSun and vice-president of Germany’s SolarWorld company told Reuters. The European Commission decided in 2013 to limit the number of solar panels, wafers and cells imported from China after EU producers complained about their dumping prices.
See the EurActiv article in English here.