14 May 2018 | Benjamin Wehrmann

Solar panel parts threat to environment -study/ innogy loses customers

Welt am Sonntag

Heavy metals in solar panels a liability for the environment - study

Traces of hazardous heavy metals in solar panels could put a serious strain on the environment if the world’s estimated 3,700 square kilometres of panels are not disposed of carefully, Daniel Wetzel writes in the weekly newspaper Welt am Sonntag. According to a study commissioned by the German economy ministry (BMWi) and carried out by the University of Stuttgart’s Institute for Photovoltaics, all silicon-based panels contain several grams of carcinogenic cadmium and lead, which could seep into the water cycle if the panels are treated incautiously after their retirement. “Not even a technologically and politically well-organised country” could guarantee that all old panels are handled appropriately, the researchers write, adding that much of the world’s solar power expansion is set to take place in less wealthy countries around the equator. While producing cleaner panels is possible, European manufacturers initially resisted tight rules in the EU to reduce costs, Wetzel writes, adding that they now seem to embrace such rules as stricter standards in Europe would pose much bigger challenges for large-scale Chinese manufacturers than for smaller and more specialised European solar power firms.

Find an online version of the article in German here.

 

Reuters / innogy

Utility innogy grapples with crumbling client base ahead of breakup

German utility innogy has lost about a quarter million customers over the last year, and its earnings slightly declined to about 1.2 billion euros in the first quarter of 2018 as the asset swap deal between utilities E.ON and RWE looms, the news agency Reuters reports. While innogy’s renewables business showed a stable growth trajectory, profits in the power retail business dwindled compared to the same period one year before.
In a press release, innogy confirmed that it expects to generate a net income of 1.1 billion euros by the end of 2018. Its net debt stands at 17.3 billion euros, the company writes.

Read the article in German here, and the press release in English here.

For background, read the CLEW article RWE and E.ON overhaul power sector - German reactions to innogy deal.

 

Die Welt

Diesel driving ban imminent on selected roads in Hamburg

Driving bans on diesel vehicles will take effect on selected roads in Hamburg after Whitsunday, the city’s environment senator, Jens Kerstan, told the newspaper Die Welt. “The road signs have been ordered, and once everything is settled legally, the rule will take effect,” Kerstan said. The bans were originally scheduled to be introduced at the end of April, but a written statement on the lawfulness of the bans by Germany’s administrative court is still outstanding, which delays implementation. Most people in Hamburg approve of the bans that are part of a bid by the city to reduce emissions and improve air quality, a survey conducted by the newspaper has found. “I’m glad that people seem to accept that we’ve found a pragmatic solution,” Green politician Kerstan said. “I would have been happier if we didn't have to do it,” he added. Kerstan said the federal government should hold carmakers that cheated on emissions levels accountable and enact a programme of mandatory retrofits.

Read the article in German here.

See CLEW’s diesel bans Q&A for background.

 

Märkische Allgemeine

German coal state Brandenburg leads in use of geothermal energy

No other state in Germany makes greater use of geothermal energy than the eastern state of Brandenburg, the Märkische Allgemeine reports. The coal mining state that surrounds the German capital of Berlin has the largest installed capacity of heat pumps, and was ranked first in the geothermal energy league, which evaluates German states according to their use of this energy source. Brandenburg’s energy minister Albrecht Gerber said that “geothermal energy is the Energiewende’s reserve tank,” and that its potential for reducing emissions in the heating sector must be better exploited.

Read the article in German here.

 

Thüringer Allgemeine

German scientists call for changes in energy policy due to negative power prices

Scientists of the Technical University of Dresden are calling for a “readjustment” of Germany’s energy policy as power prices are turning negative due to the expansion of renewable energy sources and persisting nuclear and fossil power generation capacity, Volkhard Paczulla writes in the Thüringer Allgemeine. On 1 May, renewable energy sources supplied about 100 percent of Germany’s 63 gigawatt (GW) power demand, while nuclear and fossil plants produced an additional 15 GW “that nobody needed,” Paczulla writes. According to the researchers from Dresden, getting rid of this excess energy cost German consumers about 12 million euros, as prices at the power exchange turned negative for 18 hours. Since operators of renewable power plants get a guaranteed feed-in remuneration, additional costs accrued on that day, which is why energy policy changes are needed, the researchers say. According to the think tank Agora Energiewende*, prices on Germany’s power market turn negative for about 130 hours per year, and no excess power is produced on the vast majority of days, Paczulla adds.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet The causes and effects of negative power prices for background.

*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.

 

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