In the media: Violent coal protests; a power storage illusion
“The Goliath in open-cast mining”
The illegal protests against open-cast mining in Western Germany over the weekend are strongly reminiscent of the violent demonstrations in the country against nuclear power during the past decades, writes Michael Bauchmüller in Süddeutsche Zeitung. “The fight over coal is on track to become the successor of the fight over nuclear. The ingredients are similar. Both cases follow the pattern of a battle between David and Goliath,” says Bauchmüller. “It’s already clear that this resistance cannot be stopped.” Bauchmüller argues the government unwittingly provided legitimation for the protests because Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged “decarbonisation” at the G7 summit in June.
Protest against coal must abide by legal rules
Climate protection is a worthy goal and there are many reasons to criticize Chancellor Angela Merkel, who damaged this project with the exit from nuclear, argues Antje Höning in Rheinische Post. “But it’s also clear that criticism must abide by legal rules. Violent activists, who blocked diggers and chained themselves to rail tracks, broke those rules,” Höning writes. Höning criticises the Green party’s blessing of the protests. The party appears to yearn for the past fight against nuclear so it can use it for its political advantage, writes Höning.
Read the article in German here.
“The power storage illusion”
RWE, Germany’s largest power producer, started its first power-to-gas pilot project on Monday, reports Handelsblatt. The facility produces hydrogen, which can be fed into the gas grid. The head of RWE’s German operations, Arndt Neuhaus, told the paper the technology will be essential in the future because only the gas grid offered enough capacity to store huge amounts of energy. Experts agree that solar electricity from the summer can only be stored until the winter in chemical form and not with batteries, according to the article. But Lukas Emele, from think-tank Öko-Institut, told the paper that more demand flexibility and international cooperation can solve the issue of fluctuating supply. Power-to-gas technology is too expensive and might only come into play decades ahead, warned Emele.
Read an online version of this article in German here.
“Despite all Problems, the Energiewende is worth it”
The Energiewende occasionally runs into surprising problems, such as the oversupply of solar energy in sunny August, and many contentious issues such as grid extensions and high costs remain unresolved, according to an editorial in Nordbayerische Nachrichten. “But the German Energiewende is nothing less than a large-scale experiment. That’s why unsuspected difficulties should not come as a surprise,” argues the paper. “Even so, the transition is worth the risk: Other states will have to recognise that supplies of oil and even gas are limited and nuclear power a dead end. Thanks to its experience, Germany will be years ahead and will be a technological leader for a long time to come.”
“Power stations on a long journey”
The Energiewende spells the end for many existing power stations in Germany, but the plants are in high demand elsewhere – with new company Anuka specialising in this market, reports Handelsblatt. Anuka manager Kai-Uwe Weitz told the paper the plants were still much more environmentally friendly than most others used in potential buyer countries, such as India, China, Indonesia, Turkey, as well as in North Africa and Arab states. Major utility Vattenfall also told the paper that investors had shown an interest in buying used plants.