Plans to lower grid fees / Germany accuses Fiat of emissions cheating
Grid operators such as utilities are protesting plans by the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) to lower grid fees by decreasing the return on equity operators invest in Germany’s grid infrastructure, write Jürgen Flauger and Klaus Stratmann in the Handelsblatt. “With the planned decrease of the return on equity that is invested in power grids, we retrace the development of the trend in capital market interest rates,” Jochen Homann, president of BNetzA, told the newspaper. The losses for the already-struggling sector would be in the billions of euros, as large parts of many utilities’ business lies in grids, not only power generation, write Flauger and Stratmann. The reform was the right move, as consumers – who needed to pay the fees in the end – would not accept the “discrepancy compared to the developments on the capital markets” much longer, writes Flauger in a separate opinion piece.
Germany has accused Italian carmaker Fiat of using illegal software for its emissions treatment systems, according to a Reuters report. A transport ministry letter to the European Commission, seen by Reuters, said that tests by German authorities could prove the "illegal use of a device to switch off exhaust treatment systems" and urged the Commission to consult with Italian authorities to resolve the issue. A Fiat spokeswoman said that the company's cars conform to current emissions rules and do not contain so-called defeat devices.
Read the report in English here.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Even though the government put plans to enable diesel bans in German cities on ice last month, experts believe diesel engines are doomed, reports Henning Peitsmeier in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Elmar Kades, director at business consultancy Alix Partners, told the author big cities will nonetheless increasingly push back the technology due to its harmful particulate emissions. He added carmakers would hesitate to spend their research budget on improving diesel engines, because they needed it for electric mobility. The high cost of emission controls will make diesel compact cars uneconomical, a study by Alix Partners argued, according to the article.
Find the Alix study “A watershed moment for the automotive industry” in English here.
A joint venture of BMW, Bosch, Daimler, EnBW, RWE and Siemens wants to enable e-car drivers to charge their vehicles using only renewable power at more than half of Germany’s e-car charging stations, reports business magazine Wirtschaftswoche. Their project Intercharge forms a network of various operators’ charging stations. The green power used at the chargers will be produced by a Swiss hydropower station, according to the report. Most charging stations today use green power only as part of the power mix in the grid, which also contains conventional sources.
Read the report in German here.
The economic council of the German Christian Democrats (CDU) wants Germany to turn away from its current targets to lower the country’s primary energy consumption, writes Martin Kessler in RP Online. These targets - a 20 percent reduction by 2020 and 50 percent by 2050, compared to 2008 - are “completely unrealistic,” the council’s secretary general Wolfgang Steiger told the newspaper. In a position paper seen by RP Online, the council argued that a yearly reduction by more than 1.5 percent would be needed and that last year there was even an increase of 1.6 percent.
Read the article in German here.
R&D for Photovoltaics
Future prospects for the German solar sector are “rather good”, according to almost two thirds of business and research experts surveyed by R&D for Photovoltaics, a research initiative financed by the economy (BMWi) and education (BMBF) ministries. 62 percent say that jobs in the solar sector will increase over the coming five years, and 91 percent say that the sector in Germany will continue to rely on state support in light of tough international competition.
Read the press release in German here.
For more information read the CLEW article PV auctions: More competition, but critics warn of target shortfalls.
Rhineland-Westphalia Institute for Economic Research
High electricity feed-in from renewables increases the chance of negative power prices, according to a new study by Rhineland-Westphalia Institute for Economic Research (RWI Essen). “Reaching ambitious renewable energy targets increases the frequency of low-price events and compromises the financial viability of conventional generation units, while a nuclear phase-out or an increase in storage capacities mitigates these effects,” write the authors. When power prices at the electricity exchange fall below zero, power suppliers have to pay their customers to buy electric energy.
For more information read the CLEW factsheet Why power prices turn negative.
Uniper / Reuters
The German and Indian utilities Uniper and India Power Corporation Limited have agreed to set up a 50:50 service company joint venture, India Uniper Power Services, to offer services including the operation and maintenance of power stations. The venture “will also provide software to increase plant efficiency, banking on India's reliance on coal and gas power generation, which accounts for nearly 70 percent of its installed capacity,” writes Reuters in an article.
A global Energiewende is already underway, but world leaders should give it a further push at the upcoming G20 meeting in China, according to a WWF report. “As the current level of coal in the mix remains a problem to be solved for Germany, the country ranks among world champions in the deployment of renewable technologies,” according to the report.
WWF Germany climate expert Regine Günther warned the country’s economy risked falling behind if Germany continues to resist change and cling to coal power generation. She said the Energiewende had stalled in Germany and called for more ambitious political targets, adding the government’s current proposal for a roadmap to decarbonisation by 2050 did not do justice to the task.
For background, read the CLEW article CO2 targets and coal deadline omitted from Climate Action Plan draft.
European Energy Exchange (EEX)
The European Energy Exchange (EEX) will launch trading in wind power futures next month. From 4 October 2016 onwards, trading participants on the EEX Derivatives Market will be able to hedge against volume risks in the generation of wind power within the German/Austrian market area, according to a press release.
Read the press release in English here.