In the media: RWE fighting reality; solar power strains the grid
dpa / Süddeutsche.de
“Raid on Garzweiler”
Hundreds of activists entered the open cast lignite mine of Garzweiler, in North-Rhine Westphalia, on Saturday, the German press agency dpa reports. Some of protesters succeeded in occupying a digger. Mine operator RWE had to stop operations for security reasons. Around 1,200 environmentalists had gathered for the protest “Ende Gelände” (here and not further), when about 800 of them forced their way into the mine. Police used pepper spray and clubs. Thirty-six people were injured and 800 were charged with breach of public peace and other offences.
Read the article in German here.
“Desperate fight against reality”
Utility RWE is suffering but that is no reason for pity, writes Malte Kreutzfeldt in an opinion piece for the taz. As the company’s profits and share values decrease, RWE has to get used to the fact that not all its desires - including erasing whole villages to extend its mining operations - will come true. Using lignite on a large scale doesn’t agree with preventing climate change or with the Energiewende, Kreutzfeldt writes. And forbidding journalists to report from the mine protests last weekend will also not stop the reality of energy policy making its mark on RWE.
Read the op-ed in German here.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ)
“The teetering power giant”
The downfall of Germany’s largest power producer, RWE, will accelerate in the coming years, writes Helmut Bünder in an editorial for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “Teetering on the edge, the company tries to find a way through the Energiewende… RWE is the dinosaur in the new decentralised energy world, which is geared towards climate-friendly power,” writes Bünder. RWE is not yet able to follow the example of rival E.ON and split into two companies as RWE’s renewable business is still far too small, even if the division is growing, according to Bünder.
“Heat strains power grid”
The long heatwave and high solar electricity production will increase power costs for consumers as grid operators have to pay up to 2.5 million euros every day to keep the grid stable, dpa reports. With cheap solar power from northern Germany in high demand in southern Europe, exports to the south have increased but a lack of north-south power line connections mean that the grid is severely over-stretched, grid operator 50Hertz told dpa. The transmission grid operator has to pay for so-called re-dispatch measures which ensure grid stability and often involve previously scheduled fossil power stations to be ramped down, something they receive compensation for. These compensations will end up as grid fees on consumer power bills and make for an expensive summer, dpa writes.
Read the article in German here.
“Green Party criticises energy compromise as pure show”
The capacity reserve of 2.7 gigawatt coal capacity which the government decided on to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector was an “unbearable back-room deal” between the government and utilities, Green Party MP Oliver Krischer told Die Welt. The Green Party parliamentary group received information from the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, indicating that they still did not know which power stations would be part of the reserve and how much the deal would cost consumers in the end. Green MP Annalena Baerbock said a market-oriented system that would incentivise efficient gas-fired power plants would make much more sense than subsidising lignite plants in a reserve with billions of euros.
Read the article in German here.
Read a CLEW factsheet on the coal reserve here.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS)
“Where the sun shines”
Innovations in solar and battery technology make a largely decentralised power supply a realistic possibility in Germany and elsewhere, writes Inge Kloepfer in a whole-page article in Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. “But for the forthcoming quantum leap in the new energy world, more is needed than tens of thousands of small and medium-sized rooftop solar arrays. Firstly, the possibility to store self-made electricity. And secondly, a technology to combine many power producers into a kind of virtual power station. Both exists already,” writes Kloepfer. Thanks to new battery technology like the “Powerwall” from US-company Tesla, the installation of a solar array can already pay for itself without state support, Heiko von Tschischwitz, the head of green energy supplier Lichtblick, told the author. Kloepfer notes that a more decentralised power system also drastically reduces the need for hotly contested overland power lines.
“Climate chancellor has a chance to polish up her title”
When German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff meet this week, the two most powerful women in the world have a chance to send a strong signal to the climate conference in Paris, Carlos Rittl, Executive Secretary at Climate Observatory - a coalition of 37 Brazilian NGOs - writes in an op-ed for the Frankfurter Rundschau. Germany and Brazil both play important roles in international climate activism: Germany because of its Energiewende, and Brazil because it has decreased deforestation in the Amazon by 70 percent. But Brazil is at a crossroads. It has to decide whether it wants to increase renewable power production or the share of fossil fuels and nuclear power in its energy mix. A new climate and energy alliance between Germany and Brazil could make the difference and widen the use of photovoltaics significantly, following the German example, says Rittl. Investment and know-how from Germany could trigger this development and both countries would benefit economically from investing in this vast Brazilian market.
“Gross domestic product up 0.4 percent in the 2nd quarter of 2015”
The German economy grew 0.4 percent in the second quarter compared to the beginning of the year thanks to a strong export sector boosted by the weak euro, according to statistics office Destatis. This is in sharp contrast to many other countries in the eurozone. “Economic growth accelerated year on year, too. The price-adjusted GDP was up by 1.6 percent in the second quarter of 2015, following +1.2 percent in the first quarter of 2015,” according to a press release.
In a commentary on the figures, Johannes Pennekamp writes in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the boom of the German economy is also based on cheap money from the European Central Bank and cheap oil. He argues Germany should prepare for a change for the worse with reforms, because the economic crisis in China could quickly put an end to growth.
“New coal-fired power enjoys support among bankers in Germany and Asia”
German state development bank KfW will fund a 660-megawatt lignite power plant in Greece despite European Investment Bank IDB pulling out of the project because of its high emissions, writes Eric Marx for EE publishing. Environmental campaigners in Greece and Germany criticise the KfW export credits, saying that while the KfW development branch of the bank no longer subsidised coal technology, the export branch called IPEX was continuing to do so.
Read the article in English here.