14 Sep 2016, 00:00
Sören Amelang Julian Wettengel

The pre-election threat of job cuts / Target overload from Brussels?

Frankfurter Rundschau

Power producer STEAG’s threat to cut up to 1,000 jobs in fossil power generation shows Germany has entered election campaign mode, writes Frank-Thomas Wenzel in a commentary in Frankfurter Rundschau. The industry’s job-cut threats are at least partially politically motivated, and will be repeated often in the run-up to next year’s parliamentary elections, he argues. “This is meant to wear down politicians, so the next government introduces capacity premiums – subsidies to keep coal power stations on stand-by, even though no one needs them anymore,” according to Wenzel. “This is meant to secure jobs. But it’s the wrong way. Renewables have to be rolled out with courage. This creates many more jobs than the number that will be lost in the coal power stations.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

EU Commission plans for a binding efficiency energy saving target of 30 percent by 2030 do not make sense, writes Hendrik Kafsack in a commentary for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “The EU has the clear target to reduce emissions by 40 percent by 2030. Every EU member state also has national targets for emissions not covered by emissions trading. Countries can decide how to achieve those targets – without detailed guidelines from Brussels.”

For background, read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and Efficiency.


Resistance against wind energy is growing in Germany because the country already has 26,600 turbines - many of which need to be switched off when it is windy because of grid overload, writes Franz Hubik in a commentary for business daily Handelsblatt. The renewable industry should stop blaming others for this “misery” and must take on more responsibility, according to the author. By developing storage systems and improving grid integration, for example, the industry could preserve the public’s approval for renewables, and secure businesses which are competitive in the long term. “It’s a bitter truth: Either the renewable industry quickly finds ways to integrate solar and wind power cheaply to the grid’s benefit, or it will lose the basis for business.”


Germany’s major utilities and hundreds of municipal utilities have missed the advance of renewables, writes Franz Hubik in Handelsblatt. Many firms now say they want to change course but do not have the necessary financial resources for a turnaround. Unlike RWE and E.ON, most municipal utilities cannot split in two, or sell valuable assets, for political reasons. Business consultancy KPMG suggests cooperations for renewable projects could be an option to overcome this problem.

Read the article in German here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet Small, but powerful – Germany’s municipal utilities.


German municipal utilities that have invested in fossil fuels over the past years – for example by modernising old coal-fired power plants – now find themselves under financial pressure in part due to the Energiewende, writes Bastian Brandau for Deutschlandfunk. Not all investment decisions could be seen as management mistakes: “We have a short-term, volatile political framework that does not create planning security,” said Oliver Rottmann of the University of Leipzig at the annual conference of the German Association of Local Utilities (VKU).

Read the article in German here.

German Association of Local Utilities

Unchanged investments in local utility sector

With 4.88 billion euros, the investments of the municipal utility sector into its power plant fleet remained largely unchanged in 2015, compared to 5.1 billion euros in 2014. “The caution in 2015 was due to the uncertain political setting,” said Katherina Reiche, managing director of German Association of Local Utilities (VKU), according to a VKU press release. “The federal government had not sent dependable signals to the market, neither in connection with the Renewable Energy Act (EEG), nor with the combined heat and power law or the power market design,” said Reiche.

Read the press release in German here.

ABC News (Australia)

Continued power production from lignite in Germany is in stark contrast to the country’s reputation “as a pioneer of clean, green energy”, writes Tom Morton for ABC News. “The energy transition has a dirty secret. Renewables have been so successful that the only energy source that is still cheaper is brown coal.” Morton reports from eastern German Lusatia, a region that faces deep structural changes if coal was replaced by renewable energy sources.

Read the article in English here.

Read the CLEW factsheet Setting the power price: the merit order effect and the CLEW article Czech utility takes over Vattenfall’s German lignite.

Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

The German federal government and the states have agreed to allocate 7.3 million euros over the next four years to help the eastern German Lusatia region cope with the structural changes resulting from a “gradual adaptation process in lignite-based power production”, economy minister Sigmar Gabriel said in a press release. Individual projects would cover areas such as competitiveness of businesses, energy efficiency, mobility, joint regional marketing and tourism.

Read the press release in German here.

Read the CLEW factsheet Coal in Germany and the CLEW article Czech utility takes over Vattenfall’s German lignite for background.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The federal agriculture ministry wants to make further changes to the already watered down Climate Action Plan 2050 by Social Democrat environment minister Barbara Hendricks, writes Jan Grossarth in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). An internal document, seen by FAZ and yet to be agreed to by Christian Social agriculture minister Christian Schmidt, would significantly alter the draft that Hendricks published for coordination with other ministries last week. Changes include the removal of the provision that the sector would have to cut half of its greenhouse gas emissions until 2050, as well as the concrete target that 20 percent of all agricultural land should be used for organic farming by 2030.

Read the CLEW factsheet Germany's trimmed-down Climate Action Plan and the CLEW article Ministry avoids concrete targets in weakened Climate Action Plan for background.

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