14 Oct 2015, 00:00
Sören Amelang

In the media: Renewables levy said to rise; "Oil's closing sale"

Spiegel Online/dpa-AFX

“Renewable energy surcharge rises to record level of 6.35 cents”

The renewables surcharge German consumers pay with their power bills will rise to a record 6.35 cents per KWh next year, “several independent sources” told Spiegel Online. Grid operators have said they will announce the surcharge for 2016 on Thursday. News agency dpa-AFX also carried a report on the impending rise, sourced to business insiders.
Think tank Agora Energiewende and the German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE) had both forecast a slight rise in the surcharge. Because the surcharge makes up the difference between the wholesale price and a state-guaranteed feed-in tariff for renewable power, both had stressed that despite the higher surcharge, consumer power prices should remain stable because of the decrease in wholesale prices.

Read the Spiegel report in German here.

Find the dpa-AFX report in German here

Read the CLEW factsheet “What German households pay for power” here.

Read a CLEW explanation of the surcharge here.

Find a factsheet explaining Germany’s “green energy account” here.


Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)

Cabinet approves “parents are liable for children” law to ensure utilities pay for nuclear clean-up

The government approved a law to ensure that nuclear power plant operators cannot evade paying for decommissioning reactors by spinning off their nuclear operations, according to a press release by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). Energy minister Gabriel said the “parents are liable for children” law will close existing liability loopholes in order to minimise financial risks for taxpayers. The cabinet also approved a commission that will make recommendations on how to finance decommissioning so utilities will be able to shoulder the costs in the long term.
Greenpeace said in a statement the new law was ineffective. Utilities should “be made to pay into a public decommissioning fund now, in case they eventually become insolvent and the burden of nuclear waste has to be borne by taxpayers alone,” according to Greenpeace nuclear expert Mathias Edler.

Read the BMWi press release in German here.

Read the CLEW dossier on the challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out here.   

Find the CLEW factsheet on securing utility payments here.



E.ON sells Norwegian North Sea assets for 1.6 billion dollars

German utility E.ON agreed to sell its Norwegian exploration business to Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman in a deal worth 1.6 billion dollars, according to a Reuters report. The group’s UK exploration and production remain under review, E.ON said in a statement.

Read the Reuters report in English here.

Find the E.ON press release in English here.


Süddeutsche Zeitung

“Stricter regulations for diesel”

The German environment ministry is drawing tough lessons from the VW emissions scandal, reports the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Future emissions limits “will have to be so demanding as to make diesel really clean,” the paper says, citing a position paper by environment minister Barbara Hendricks. She says cities must be enabled to ban driving if nitrogen oxide levels are too high, not just particle concentrations. To facilitate the breakthrough of electric cars, Hendricks demands “tax breaks and a combination of an obligatory e-car quota and financial incentives for buyers.” She says a bitter irony of the VW scandal is that the penalties the company can now expect could have financed the introduction of millions of electric vehicles, according to the paper. The author Michael Bauchmüller says Hendricks’ proposals are likely to meet opposition, not least from economics and energy minister Sigmar Gabriel.

Read the report in German here.



“Broad alliance demands efficiency transition”

An alliance ranging from the German Trade Union Association (DGB) to the German Industry Initiative for Energy Efficiency (DENEFF)  says the government must step up its efforts to increase efficiency, reports Klaus Stratmann in the Handelsblatt. Decisive impulses for an effective climate policy and a sustainable efficiency transition are lacking, according to a common position paper to be signed by the members of the “alliance for efficiency transition” (Bündnis Effizienzwende).  If Germany wants to lead the way internationally on climate protection and efficiency, the topic “must finally be given the same weight as the various sectors of power generation,” the Handelsblatt quotes from the position paper. Signatories demand the government focus its various measures in a “comprehensive efficiency law.”

Read the article in German here.

Find the CLEW dossier “Taming the Appetite for Energy” here.



“Underground Cables: New Problem or Solution?”

Grid operator TenneT believes the government decision to prioritise underground cables over overhead lines will delay planned grid extensions by three years, reports Klaus Stratmann in the Handelsblatt. In a statement for a parliamentary committee, TenneT warns this might cause supply bottlenecks in southern Germany because of insufficient local generation capacity, writes Stratmann.  

Read the article in German here.



Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“Oil’s closing sale”

The global movement to divest from fossil fuels has gathered rapid support this year and has turned “peak oil” arguments upside-down, writes Marcus Theurer in a commentary for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.  “The closing sale might start long before the age of oil comes to an end," because oil-producing countries might step up production for fear the market could disappear altogether. “The climate debate will radically alter the rules of the oil industry and question companies’ business models,” writes Theurer. He says this will not happen from one day to the next, but it won’t take as long as oil managers claim.

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