In the media: UK exits coal; auction plans unsettle wind power industry
“Now the British also have their Energiewende,” Björn Finke comments on British plans to exit coal announced over the weekend. He argues London’s energy transition, if implemented, would be much more important for the planet’s future than Germany’s. This, he says, is because Germany first wants to switch off climate-friendly nuclear plants instead of dirty coal. Nuclear energy, Finke also asserts, has no future anywhere because it is expensive and creates dangerous waste products. “But from a global perspective, it would be better if Germany initially spent scarce resources to fight climate killer coal – and only after that on the goodbye to nuclear.” Nevertheless, he calls the nuclear exit the right policy for Germany, because “in the long term, no democratic state can base its energy supply on a technology that lacks popular support (…) The British goodbye to coal should inspire Germany. But when it comes to nuclear energy, a healthy dose of German angst would do Britain very good indeed.”
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
RWE-head Terium: Three of our four divisions are healthy
Germany’s energy transition is only hurting one of four business divisions at utility giant RWE, says CEO Peter Terium in an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “Three of our four businesses are healthy and can be expanded,” says Terium with reference to grids, trade and sales, which are separate from the company’s troubled coal- and gas-fired power plants. “That’s the reason I don’t feel fundamentally nervous about the company: Because only one of four main pillars is dented.” But he concedes: “We will have to fight hard for our conventional electricity generation capacities.”
See a Reuters story in German on the interview here.
“From the mine shaft to lofty heights”
Despite its 150th anniversary, mining equipment maker Eickhoff Maschinenfabrik und Eisengießerei had little to celebrate last year as it laid off another 140 staff from its core division, reports Handelsblatt. But the firm, based in the former coal-mining town of Bochum, is earning a rapidly increasing share of its turnover with technology for wind turbines. “Gearing for wind turbines will become our most important business division in the coming years”, company head Paul Rheinländer told the Handelsblatt.
"Fight over transmission grid: Gabriel accuses Bouffier of torpedoing the Energiewende"
Germany’s economy and energy minister Sigmar Gabriel has warned Hessian state premier Volker Bouffier against compromising the Energiewende by contesting the construction of new grid connections between northern and southern Germany. "If Suedlink is questioned, the energy transition is dead and I assume that Mr. Bouffier knows this. I do not think it wise what Mr. Bouffier has said,” Gabriel told Der Spiegel. Bouffier had questioned whether the new electricity super highways needed to be built through Hesse or whether they could run through the neigbouring state of Thuringia instead.
See the article in German here.
See a CLEW dossier on the German grid expansion here.
“New rules unsettle German wind turbine industry”
The wind power sector in northern Germany opposes a change in policy that would subject wind parks to auctions in order to bid for subsidies as of 2016, Olaf Preuß writes in Die Welt. A bidding process currently being tested on ground-mounted solar arrays would provide a model for the wind sector. Particularly small projects run by groups of private citizens would lose out in this process, the Hamburg representative of the German Wind Energy Association BWE, Jens Heidorn, told the paper. Northern Germany has around 10,700 installed wind turbines, many of them belonging to so-called citizen wind parks (Bürgerwindpark), Preuß writes. One worry is that developers would have to fork out the nearly 150,000 euros it costs for two turbines to fulfill planning permission requirements, before an auction even took place, wind-park developer Heidorn said. This would be a lot of money to spend in the face of uncertainty over the outcome of an auction for subisides, he suggested. Manufacturers of wind turbines also fear the change. Hamburg-based Senvion says that they need to plan two to five years ahead, meaning reliable regulatory frameworks are essential.
Read the article in German here.
“Japan Political Pulse: Germany's rock-hard commitment to nuclear phase-out”
Reporting on his visit to Berlin, where he met environment journalists, representatives from the economics ministry and industry associations, as well as utility experts, Takao Yamada of the Japanese newspaper The Mainichi describes his impression of the German nuclear phase-out, comparing how the Energiewende is depicted in the Japanese press to what he gleaned from experts in Germany. According to Yamada, there is no movement in Germany – not even in conservative newspapers – promoting a return to nuclear power. While much of the Japanese media has described the energy transition as “a massive failure,” increasing power costs and burdening the poor, Yamada writes that Germans see this differently: the increase in renewable energy has helped reduce electricity costs for big industries, and those costs only comprise a small portion of household expenditures. “There is no need to idealise Germany’s transition efforts, but there is no need to buy into the mocking dismissals voiced by Japan’s proponents of nuclear power,” Yamada concludes.
Read the article in English here.
“German government did not just approve fracking”
Commenting on the latest hearing on the government’s draft legislation on fracking and what he says are mistaken media reports fracking had been approved in Germany, Craig Morris writes in his blog on energytransition.de: “Germany won’t ban shale gas production; it will simply make extraction unenticing.” Morris argues the current government is more pro-business than any other Germany is going to get. “I’ll bet you a beer we are not going to see any major fracking in Germany ever.”
Read the article in English here.