16 Dec 2016, 00:00
Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Parliament passes new CHP law / Nuclear exit too costly as model?

German Bundestag

The German parliament (Bundestag) has voted for a government bill to change regulations for combined heat and power (CHP) electricity production, including amendments by the economy ministry (BMWi), the Bundestag writes in a press release. It stipulates that new and modernised CHP plants with a capacity from 1 to 50 megawatt will have to successfully participate in a bidding process before they are eligible for support. The subsidy amount will be determined by the bids, ensuring that “the most economic projects” receive support, the Bundestag writes. Bidding processes will “to a limited extent” be opened for projects in neighbouring countries in order to foster regional cooperation. The parliament also approved exemptions from the renewables surcharge for power produced by industrial firms for self-consumption with existing plants, unless these are modernised “substantially”.

Read the press release in German here.

For background read the CLEW article Agreement with EU Commission clears way for German power market reform as well as the CLEW factsheet Combined heat and power - an Energiewende cornerstone?.

Die Zeit

With the German parliament’s decision to transfer responsibility for the country’s nuclear waste storage to the state, arguably the most expensive project in the history of German energy policy, has been legally phased-out with a broad political consensus, Petra Pinzler writes in an opinion piece for weekly newspaper Die Zeit. “But it has not been paid for yet. And that’s just the problem,” she says. Profits made with nuclear energy have long been apportioned among the plant operators rather than being used to ensure financial provisions in a foresighted manner - and now the state will have to help out, Pinzler writes. Germany’s nuclear exit could have been a model for the world, but the costs associated with its belated organisation “will deter a lot of governments from doing it”, she argues.

For information on the legal status of phasing out nuclear power, see the CLEW article Germany's constitutional court backs speedy nuclear exit.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The projected state fund for financing the storage of Germany’s nuclear waste may seem like a gift to the utilities suffering from the Energiewende’s consequences – but it is not, writes Andreas Mihm in a commentary for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “In fact, they will have to pay dearly,” he argues. The 17.4 billion euros in provisions for liabilities, plus a risk premium of 6.2 billion euros, are “a costly emancipation from the state's paternalism”. This has been characterised by constantly changing its approach to nuclear waste management and driving up costs by interrupting the process and making new demands, Mihm says. “The nuclear legacy’s problem has not been resolved, the responsibility just lies somewhere else.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung

The German parliament’s vote to free nuclear plant operators of their liabilities for managing nuclear waste disposal has not ensured that all troubles have been dispelled, writes Michael Bauchmüller in Süddeutsche Zeitung. “New frictions are guaranteed, especially in areas where responsibility is transferred from companies to the state,” he says. Facilities for temporarily storing radioactive residues are usually located on the utilities’ premises. Skilled workers and the equipment needed for disposing the waste are mostly owned by plant operators. “Theoretically, the companies could get a small share of their billions back – as service providers,” Bauchmüller argues.

Read the article in German here.

For background see the CLEW dossier The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out and the CLEW factsheet Securing utility payments for the nuclear clean-up.

German Bundestag / Süddeutsche Zeitung

The German government might not have been persistent enough in the past in questioning emissions data from German carmakers, economy minister Sigmar Gabriel said in a hearing before a Bundestag committee of inquiry. “We have to ask ourselves whether we were sceptical and persistent enough to prevent what has caused such big problems,” Gabriel said according to an article in Süddeutsche Zeitung. He denied having heard of illegal defeat devices before the emissions scandal was uncovered. But he said that during his time as environment minister (2005-09) his ministry knew about diverging emissions data in field and laboratory tests.

Read the Bundestag press release in German here and the Süddeutsche article in German here.

For background read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The diesel emissions scandal forces German carmaker Audi to cut costs and increase efficiency “wherever possible”, writes Henning Peitsmeier for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Many investments “which would have easily passed any budget meeting of marketing experts, series managers or engine developers in times before the affair regarding manipulated diesel cars, are now on trial”, writes Peitsmeier.

Read the article (behind paywall) in German here.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The European Emissions Trading System (ETS) amendment proposal passed in the European Parliament only partly recognises the threat to the competitiveness of the continent’s industry, writes Hendrik Kafsack in an opinion piece in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The Committee wants to allocate more free CO2 certificates to energy intensive businesses than the EU Commission had proposed, but reduce the total number of emission allowances. The latter “reduces the relief of the industry. The EU member states must act and curb the exuberant ambitions of the Parliament”, writes Kafsack. The Council of the EU will debate the reform on Monday.

Find the European Parliament press release in English here.

Read about the EU Commission reform proposal in the CLEW article German reactions to the EU Commission’s energy summer package


Elmar Degenhart, Chairman of the Executive Board of German car supplier Continental, does not  expect to make profits with products in the e-mobility sector before 2020, he told WirtschaftsWoche in an interview. “The transition from the combustion engine to e-mobility will only really gain momentum between 2025 and 2030. […] The necessary development expenditure is the greatest challenge for our industry,” said Degenhart.

Read the article in German here.

Welt Online

The coal mining industry in Germany’s eastern region Lusatia refuses to accept that it faces a similar destiny as the country’s nuclear industry, Daniel Wetzel writes on Welt Online. Those employed in the industry feel that “brown coal, which has formed the region’s landscape, culture and people for generations, is now subject to unparalleled attacks”, Wetzel explains in his lengthy article. “60 percent of CO2-reductions came from eastern Germany,” he cites local coal manager Helmar Rendez, who also said Germany’s “esoteric energy policy”, embodied by the Climate Action Plan 2050, was aimed at “exiting every technology that actually works”. Since Lusatia, together with the western German coal mining areas, still accounts for about a quarter of the country’s energy supply, many of the young coal industry employees “do not regard it as a dying industry but rather a good start for their professional future”, Wetzel writes.

Read the article in German here.

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