11 Apr 2017, 00:00
Benjamin Wehrmann

Negative power prices have limited influence / Flying windmills

Federal Grid Agency (BNetzA)

Many operators of nuclear, gas or coal-fired power plants in Germany do not throttle feed-in at times of “negative power prices,” the Federal Grid Agency (BNetzA) has said in a press release. Although operators of conventional plants have to pay for disposing of their power during these phases, “about a quarter” of plant capacity during peak feed-in times “did not react or only partially reacted to wholesale power prices,” BNetzA president Jochen Homann says. Only a small fraction of the provided power was necessary to cover the grid’s baseload or for re-dispatch measures, he adds. In its latest report on minimum power generation in Germany, the BNetzA cites the plants’ inflexibility and contractual commitments in the framework of the Combined Heat and Power Act as reasons for providing power at negative prices.

Find the BNetzA’s press release in German here and the report in German here.

For background, see the CLEW factsheet Why power prices turn negative.


German utility E.ON is looking for cheaper alternatives to conventional wind power turbines and has identified so-called airborne wind energy as a promising option, Franz Hubik writes in Handelsblatt. According to company sources, E.ON invests three million euros in this “possibly ground-breaking technology” and is preparing first test runs with Dutch airborne wind energy systems manufacturer Ampyx Power, Hubik writes. The technology resembles a kite that is tied to a rope and has a greater energy yield than conventional turbines at lower costs by harnessing wind in heights up to 450 meters, he explains.

Read the article in German here.

Find a press release by Ampy Power in English here.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

The beginning of the decommissioning of the nuclear plant Neckarwestheim should have been a moment of joy for all anti-nuclear activists in the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg but instead it was met with protests once again, Josef Kelnberger writes in Süddeutsche Zeitung. Protesters argue that the plant’s decommissioning is being executed in the cheapest possible way in order to limit state-owned operator EnBW’s expenses, Kelnberger explains. Franz Untersteller, the state’s Green environment minister, assured critics that no safety compromises would be made: “Nuclear power is a high-risk technology also when it comes to a phase-out – we know that and so does EnBW,” Untersteller said. The demolition of Germany’s 17 remaining nuclear plants is estimated to cost about 19 billion euros, Kelnberger adds.

Read the article in German here

For more information, see the CLEW dossier The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out.


The German attachment to “gas-guzzling autos” is part of the reason for the country’s sustained high CO2 emissions, Jill Petzinger writes on website Quartz. According to transport expert Gregor Kolbe, “RIP”, a combination of range, infrastructure and price, is responsible for the Germans’ reluctance to switch to e-cars, Petzinger writes. Another reason is that German carmakers’ combustion engines are simply too successful to provide impetus for change, Kolbe adds.

Read the article in English here.

See the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers for additional information.

tageszeitung (taz)

The effect of think tank Agora Energiewende’s* proposal for an ecologic tax reform on Germany’s major political parties will be limited, Hannes Koch writes in a commentary for tageszeitung (taz). Agora Energiewende suggests lowering fees on electricity and increasing those for gasoline and other fossil fuels in order to foster a climate-friendly energy provision, Koch explains. But neither the Social Democrats (SPD) nor the Christian conservative union of CDU/CSU is likely to advocate for increasing taxes in any sector, Koch says. “The eco-tax fans still have to do a lot of persuading for this to succeed,” he adds. 

Read the commentary in German here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet Germany ponders how to finance renewables expansion in the future.

*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Unfavourable political conditions have stalled plans for the construction of the Franzosenkopf pumped-storage hydropower plant near the city of Mainz, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. The plant is meant to store power from solar and wind power for times of low energy generation from renewable sources but currently could not be operated in an economically viable manner, the article says. Stefan Kapferer, head of the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW), recently said many hydro-storage plants in Germany were threatened because “grid fees are charged both for filling and for emptying the storage,” the newspaper explains.

For additional information, see the CLEW factsheet How can Germany keep the lights on in a renewable energy future?.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

At first, the government of the German state of Baden-Württemberg bristled at French energy company EDF’s decision to postpone the decommissioning of the Fessenheim nuclear plant until at least 2019 – but it has now emerged that there could be “a veritable conflict of interests for the state government,” Markus Balser and Leo Klimm write in Süddeutsche Zeitung. In 1972, a predecessor of Baden-Württemberg’s state-owned energy company EnBW took over 17.5 percent of construction costs for the plant near the German border in exchange for a guaranteed energy supply, they explain. According to EDF, EnBW – and with it, the state’s taxpayers – “contribute to the costs resulting from decommissioning,” the authors say. According to EnBW, however, financial responsibility for Fessenheim ended in 2015, they add.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet Securing utility payments for the nuclear clean-up for background.

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