“North Rhine-Westphalia cities agree to forego RWE dividend”
Despite their own financial difficulties, cities in North Rhine-Westphalia that own stakes in utility RWE have accepted that there will be no dividend this year, writes Daniel Wetzel in Die Welt. CEO Peter Terium will step down from running the company in the autumn and will become head of RWE’s new renewables unit, while COO Rolf Martin Schmitz will take over the helm of RWE.
Read the article in German here.
Find a CLEW dossier on the utilities' troubles here.
“The power of the RWE cities”
For many years, cities benefitted from holding stakes in utilities to which they awarded electricity concessions, but this is no longer the case, writes Antje Höning in a commentary in the Rheinische Post. RWE’s mistakes since the beginning of Germany’s energy transition mean the days of high dividends for municipalities are over. German cities where the company held concessions felt they were no longer taken seriously by the company’s chief executive Peter Terium, she writes. His decision to split-up RWE is also having a negative affect, which is why it is good that they have pushed for a change of management and Rolf Martin Schmitz will take over, she writes.
“Heating oil in demand again”
Germans are shunning renewables for home heating in favour of oil units, due to the low price of oil, writes Martin Kopp in the Hamburger Abendblatt. That means companies which have specialised in renewables installations are seeking other sources of revenue, he says. But because the lion’s share of the energy transition has been in the power sector and not in the heating sector, this is still not a huge shift for the market. The German Heating Association (BDH) says that the sale and installation of oil heating rose 30 percent in 2015 over the previous year. At the same time, biomass units fell by 18 percent, heat pumps by 2 percent and solar thermal units by 10 percent.
World Economic Forum
Report shows Germany at fore of global energy transition, with some hurdles
The annual World Economic Forum study comparing the structure of energy markets around the globe, showed Germany and several other advanced economies leading the transition to renewable energy. This is offering new opportunities, but also posing challenges for energy security, the report said. Citing Germany’s ambitious plans to exit nuclear energy and cut emissions by 80 percent by 2050, and its “impressive capabilities across the renewables value chain,” it also said costs such as high electricity prices, especially for households, but also for industry had caused it to drop eight places against the 2009 benchmark to number 24 out of 126 country rankings in the annual index. The WEF ranked Germany behind other industrialised countries such as France (4), UK (16) and Italy (22) but ahead of Canada (30), the United States (48), Japan (50) and Australia (53).
Read the full report in English here.
Schleswig-Holstein Netz AG
Researchers say experiment advances power to gas technology
Schleswig-Holstein Netz AG said in a press release it had successfully fed up to ten percent hydrogen into the natural gas network in two municipalities in the state, a step toward improving the technology. The experiment was part of a research project aimed at improving power to gas technology. By transforming excess wind power into hydrogen, power to gas could be a key technology for the Energiewende and the answer to power storage issues, according to the group.
Statoil head says Germany won't reach climate goals without better plan
In an interview with Klaus Stratmann of the Handelsblatt, the head of Norway’s Statoil, Jens Okland, said he didn’t think Germany would fulfill its climate goals with its current political approach. Okland said that the political situation is unclear, which is hurting gas power plants and reducing their use. Nevertheless, gas still plays a big role in the heat sector and in industry, and demand is very stable in those areas, he pointed out. Okland said he would like to see emissions trading reform to raise the price of CO2 and create more demand for gas by cutting demand for coal. “Germany will not reach its climate goals if it doesn’t force a coal exit and put forth a convincing plan,” he said.
Find a CLEW Factsheet on Germany's climate targets here.
“Accident at the Fessenheim nuclear plant was more serious than believed”
An accident in 2014 at France’s Fessenheim nuclear plant on the German border was more serious than believed, according to information obtained by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) and the Westdeutsche Rundfunk (WDR). According to an article in the SZ detailing what happened, the reactor was temporarily out of control – the result of “technical failures and chaos.”
Read the article in German here.