Vattenfall / Reuters
Vattenfall Annual report: Focus on renewables in Germany
Swedish utility Vattenfall, who operates power stations, mines and other energy businesses across Europe, highlights in its 2014 annual report that it will continue to invest in offshore wind power in Germany. The company affirmed its intention to sell its German lignite operations in 2015. "We have said that we would like to see it happen this year... it's running with full pace forward," Vattenfall's Chief Executive Magnus Hall was quoted by Reuters as saying. The energy giant stressed in its report: “the goal is to shift the production portfolio towards more renewable production and reduce the company’s CO2 emissions.” However, the company is committed to retaining its other operations in Germany, like district heating, distribution, sales, trading and wind power. Hall called 2014 an “eventful and difficult year,” shaped by weak demand, oversupply due to overcapacities in the power market, falling power prices and warm weather.
See the annual report in English here.
See the Reuters article in English here.
See the CLEW factsheet on utilities' role in the Energiewende here.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
"Short circuit in Munich"
Uncertainty within the Bavarian state government about building electricity superhighways remains a hot topic in the media. Andreas Mihm writes in an editorial in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: “The Bavarian resistance has consequences that affect the entire country negatively (…) and endangers the success of the whole Energiewende.” Without lines to transport electricity to southern Germany, ambitious plans for renewable energy generation in the north might have to be reconsidered, argues Mihm. “The Bavarian government is fully aware that in terms of supply security, it is playing with fire (…) in the heart of Europe, they dream of electricity autarky and new power stations.”
See our news item on Bavaria’s Energy Dialogue here.
See our dossier on the energy transition and Germany’s power grid here.
See our factsheet on the set-up and challenges of Germany’s power grid here.
Seehofer: “I will not be forced into deadlines”
In an interview with Die Welt, Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer defends the results of the state’s “energy dialogue.” He emphasizes that decisions about the need for grid extensions will have to be taken in Berlin after negotiations with the federal government in the course of this year. “We will approach this in a relaxed manner (…) I will not be forced into deadlines,” Seehofer tells Die Welt. Seehofer stresses the need to secure supply with conventional power plants to supplement renewables. “For Bavaria, that means gas-fired plants as a top priority. That is the most important issue for the economy and jobs. And then we will see whether we need new power lines at all,” Seehofer says.
“Germans’ insulation madness subsides”
According to new data from public development bank KfW, the volume of subsidized credits for home insulation and new heating systems shrank by more than ten percent to 9.3 billion euros last year, Die Welt reports. The bank told the paper that the volume decreased partly because many homeowners had already used the program in previous years.
Find the article in German here.
“Only one union wants coal”
Most of the signatures in a recent petition drive demanding secure jobs and cheap power came from Germany’s IG BCE chemicals, mining and energy union, the taz reports. Germans are currently debating the future role of fossil fuels, especially the heavily polluting lignite coal, as the country ups the share of renewable energy in its power mix. A coal exit could have negative implications for jobs in the industry. In addition, some industries such as chemicals, have blamed the Energiewende for high power prices and threatened to move production abroad. The German union umbrella organisation DGB delivered 125,000 signatures to the German economics and energy ministry in an energy union petition demanding “affordable electricity and good jobs,” according to the taz. But only 20,000 of the signatures came from outside the energy union, 10,000 of those from the 2.27 million-member IG Metall, the taz reported, noting that a number its members hail from the renewables industry and that there had been criticism of the petition in its ranks. Head of the IG BCE Michael Vassiliadis said support of “fossil energies” is necessary, “because they bring price stability and security of supply to the Energiewende,” the taz said.
Read the article in the taz in English here.
“Error in the system”
In 2015, Germany will reform its law governing power network fees to address several distortions in the system, Eva Augsten, writing forTechnology Review, reports. At the moment, companies drawing large amounts of power from the network pay a high annual fee, even if their demands are met when the system is underutilized, the magazine says. A proposal developed by the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) for think-tank Agora Energiewende would stagger the charges according to time of day and year, meaning companies would pay less if they draw power at times when demand from the grid is low, and more when the system is working at top capacity, Technology Report says. Another problem is that network operators in regions with an abundance of renewables, like northern and eastern Germany must pay for hooking these up to the grid – a cost they must distribute among the sparse number of customers in these rural areas. That means some customers are paying up to 10 cents per kilowatt hour, as opposed to half that in other areas, the magazine says. Whether the reform will tackle that issue is still up in the air, Technology Review says.
See the article in German here.
Read a CLEW dossier on Germany's grid here.