04 Jul 2016, 00:00
Sören Amelang Kerstine Appunn Julian Wettengel

Ratifying Paris / Sweden approves sale of Vattenfall's German lignite

Petersberg Climate Dialogue VII

Germany will strive to get parliamentary approval for the ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement before the next climate summit gets underway in Marrakech in November 2016, environment minister Barbara Hendricks said at the opening press conference of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin. The format, which has been an annual fixture since 2010, will focus on how to implement climate protection measures necessary to fulfil the Paris pledge. A new government initiative will help developing countries to substantiate and implement their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to the global climate effort, the ministries for environment and development announced.
The 35 countries attending will also discuss how future financial investments can be made consistent with climate targets, by leading them towards clean technologies, for example in the transport sector, Hendricks said. She said the Climate Action Plan 2050, which Germany is currently preparing, could pose as a model for similar roadmaps in other countries. Even without giving a clear end-date for coal usage in Germany, the latest draft plan was saying “completely unambiguously that we want to have a climate-neutral economy”, Hendricks said.

Read a CLEW news article on the latest Climate Action Plan 2050 draft.


The Swedish government approved the sale of Vattenfall’s German lignite plants and mines to Czech utility EPH, writes Bloomberg. “The divestment is strategically correct and the best financial alternative,” Swedish enterprise minister Mikael Damberg said. Vattenfall aims to focus on renewables and “divest its dirtiest power units”, writes Bloomberg. In April, the energy giant had agreed to sell all its German lignite assets, liabilities and provisions including the cost of decommissioning and land re-cultivation to Prague-based EPH. The sale needs to be cleared by the EU Commission and is expected to be closed at the end of August.

Read the article in English here.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

The German federal and state governments should start soon to secure the financing of long-term effects of lignite operations in order to be prepared for the possible scenario that Czech EPH evades having to fund liabilities and provisions in connection with its acquisition of Vattenfall’s German lignite plants and mines, writes Michael Bauchmüller in an opinion piece in Süddeutsche Zeitung. “The EPH-deal is pre-announced irresponsibility. He who doesn’t act fast, shares the guilt”, writes Bauchmüller. EPH “should have little difficulty skilfully dumping the responsibility for the effects of the lignite operations after having set aside the Swedish billions”, writes Bauchmüller.

Read the opinion piece in German here.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung

Germany’s largest power producer RWE teeters on the brink of bankruptcy, writes Sebastian Balzter in Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. The utility urgently needs cash to pay for the nuclear exit.  If the sale of the renewable subsidiary “Innogy” on the stock market later this year goes wrong, RWE is “a case for an insolvency administrator”, according to Balzter. The repercussions of the Brexit vote could push the utility over the edge because it earns a substantial part of sales in Britain, writes Balzter. “Given the dangerous situation, some insolvency administrators already keep a watch on RWE, confirms a sector insider […] It would be the largest bankruptcy in German economic history.” But sector specialist Georg Erdmann, from Berlin technical university, told the author he believed the government would step in to prevent RWE’s bankruptcy.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet RWE’s plans for new renewable subsidiary.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

There are limits to a national energy transition in Germany, writes economy professor Andreas Löschel, from the University of Münster, in a guest article for the Süddeutsche Zeitung. If a few countries like Germany and the UK decide to phase-out coal power production but eastern European countries fail to do the same, emissions could be exported to these countries, he argues. Without additionally reducing the amount of CO2 allowances in the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), the emissions that Germany saves would be emitted somewhere else at a later time. If lowering the overall amount of allowances is not successful, Germany could buy and delete the allowances that it does not need to prevent them from being used elsewhere.

Read the article in German here.

Der Spiegel

States like Lower Saxony are pushing for more wind power development even though the grid connections to transport the green power are lacking, Der Spiegel writes. There are no incentives for the state government to accelerate the construction of new power lines because wind parks are paid for their power regardless of whether they can actually deliver it. Every state is pursuing its own energy transition, with some delaying the grid expansion, others pushing for more subsidies for overly expensive biogas plants (Bavaria) and others building wind turbines in areas with little wind, the article says. This all goes against the interest of the power customer who has to foot the bill for these regional business support schemes.

Read a CLEW factsheet on federalism and the energy transition.


Plans by the economy committee in the German Bundesrat to amend the current draft of incentive regulations concerning power grid expansion in Germany would cost the taxpayers an additional 3.5 billion euros until 2028, Achim Zerres, the head of energy regulation at the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) told dpa. Since its implementation in 2009, the regulation provides financial incentives for grid operators to invest in the electricity network. Because there is no natural competition, proceeds for grid operators are regulated by the government – and paid for by the consumers through the grid fees. The economy committee had recommended further relief for grid operators, such as limiting the guidelines for efficiency. The Bundesrat is scheduled to debate the draft on 8 July.

Read the article in German here.

Rheinische Post

Negotiations between the four nuclear operators and the German government are at full speed, reports Antje Höning in Rheinische Post. Insiders told the author the government wanted a cabinet decision in August so the financing of the nuclear exit is put into law by the end of the year. "They definitely want to keep the issue out of the election campaign 2017," writes Höning.

Find the article in German here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet Securing utility payments for the nuclear clean-up.

Süddeutsche Zeitung / Bild

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn hopes to operate a fleet of autonomous vehicles in the future to bring clients to the nearest train station, according to CEO Rüdiger Grube. “We will offer our door to door services in the future: Call a bike, car to go or taxi, train journey, and bus,” Grube told Bild. He said there will be a single app that allows booking all of these services, but did not give a launch date for the project.

Read the article in German here.

The Guardian

Germany is building the world’s biggest ‘bicycle autobahn’ to connect 10 cities and remove 50,000 cars from the road, reports Renate von der Zee for the Guardian. “Together with the booming popularity of the electric bike, the highway could lead to a new era of cycle commuting in Germany,” writes von der Zee.

Read the article in English here.

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
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