In the media: RWE result down; new plan for nuclear waste
RWE operating result down by 11 percent / increased earnings from renewables
Germany’s second biggest energy utility RWE reported a reduced operating result and EBITDA for the first six months of 2015. EBITDA fell by 7 percent to 3.2 billion euros while the operating result was down 11 percent to 2 billion euros, compared to the previous year. “The wind is still blowing strongly in our face, especially because of the difficult situation in the power generation market,” RWE CEO Peter Terium said. The continuing decline in margins in the conventional power sector was mainly to blame for declining earnings, CFO Bernhard Günther added.
Positive developments at RWE were a further reduction of the company’s net debt from 31 billion euros at the end of 2014 to now 25.6 billion euros, mainly achieved by the sale of RWE Dea, and the operating results of the renewable division, RWE Innogy which increased its operating result from 81 million euros to 233 million euros. Terium highlighted that RWE had a plan for the new energy world, involving “a controlled offensive and innovation” and that the new structure of the company would help to implement this plan, together with many new business opportunities like smart grids and smart homes.
New plan for nuclear waste storage
The government has decided on a comprehensive concept for safely storing all nuclear waste that the country will have produced by 2022 (when the last nuclear power stations go offline). The “national disposal programme” arranges for the procedure of how 1900 casks of highly radioactive waste and some 600,000 m3 of low and medium-level waste will be dealt with. While 303,000 m3 of the low and medium-level waste will be stored in a final repository at Schacht Konrad, a final storage place for the remaining lower-level waste and the heat generating remains of the 1900 containers shall be found by 2031. The environment ministry also published a list of radioactive waste by source and a report on costs for the nuclear waste storage.
Read the government press release and the national disposal programme in German here.
“Escaping the eternal liability”
Utility E.ON’s split into two companies was supposed to have a nice side effect, namely cutting the responsibility of having to pay for the decommissioning and nuclear waste storage of the new company to 5 years, writes Markus Balser in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Normally the polluter pays principle applies eternally. Taking into account that it is unclear whether the reserves for the nuclear clean up made by the utilities will be enough, a company spin-off can be a lucrative move, Balser says. But now the government wants to close this loophole. The Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is preparing legislation that could curb the 5-year-rule before E.ON’s split is completed. E.ON CEO Peter Teyssen believes the plans are unconstitutional.
New power meters for the Energiewende
The Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is preparing a new law on the digitalisation of the Energiewende, dpa reports. Part of the digitalisation could be the installation of intelligent power meters in households and companies. The new measuring devices that would be able to judge when power is cheap and let appliances like washing machines run accordingly, could save households money. The new technology should cost between 23 and 60 euros for private consumers and over 100 euros for companies that use more electricity, the article says. It was not clear whether the savings would redeem the investment quick enough though, dpa writes.
Read the article in German here.
“Absurd rules prevent new pumped hydropower”
Because of competition from other renewable energies, the business model of pumped hydropower plants in Germany is failing, dpa reports. They used to make profits during peak power demand times but those are now the same times when photovoltaics and wind turbines feed a lot of power into the grid. Hydro plant operator Vattenfall and the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) therefore demand new framework conditions for hydropower. These should include an exemption from grid fees and payment for the stabilising effect that the large controllable storage plants can provide in a grid dominated by fluctuating renewable input. Until this is secured, investment into new pumped hydro stations will remain reluctant, even though a long list of potential new plants exists.
Read the article in German here.
Handelsblatt Global Edition
“Does Reducing Carbon Mean Ruining Industry?”
So far the notion of decarbonisation is only a political idea, far away from being implemented, writes Franziska Erdle, president of the German metal industry association in an opinion piece for Handelsblatt Global Edition. When producing metal needed for building cars or wind turbines, CO2 is automatically generated as a side product – decarbonisation would thus mean living without metal as a basic commodity, Erdle says. If all the processes that are powered by fossil fuel energy were to be run on electricity instead, power consumption in Germany would double, she writes. “There is currently no solution to the question of how renewable energy could provide this much electricity.”
Energy consumption data for first half of 2015 online
AG Energiebilanzen has published its half-year report on energy consumption, including data on transport, household heating, oil and electricity. The publication backs up findings published in the beginning of August (here).
Download the report here.