SPD shuns coal exit commitment / Shipping nuclear waste
Clean Energy Wire
Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks has shunned calls for making a clear commitment to initialising the country’s exit from coal-fired power production. At a press conference by government members of her Social Democratic Party (SPD), Hendricks said it was “too easy” to look only at the power sector when it comes to fulfilling Germany’s emissions reduction goals. While it had always been her party’s aim to “correct” shortcomings in German climate policy to make sure 2020 aims are still going to be reached, it was “pointless to focus on closing another coal-fired power plant.” Germany had made significant progress in curbing emissions in the power sector while the “true laggards” in CO2 reduction could be found in the agricultural and transport sector, for which responsibility rests with the conservative (CDU/CSU)-led ministries, she said.
The Green Party, on which the SPD pins its hopes for forming a new coalition government after September’s elections, has made a coal exit by 2030 and immediately shutting down Germany’s 20 most polluting coal plants a priority in its election programme. In its own election programme, the SPD says it was going to focus on managing structural economic change in coal mining regions, introduce a national climate protection law that includes ending fossil energy subsidies and advocate for a European CO2 price, should its projected attempt to reform the European Emissions Trading System (ETS) bear no satisfying results.
For background, see the CLEW factsheet When will Germany finally ditch coal?
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
German utility EnBW is reportedly ready to dispatch the first barge carrying nuclear waste casks along the River Neckar in the south-west of the country, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said. Anti-nuclear activists have protested against the impending transfer of three 100-tonne CASTOR containers from the decommissioned Obrigheim nuclear plant to the still active Neckarwestheim plant some 50 kilometres upstream, where EnBW maintains an intermediate nuclear storage facility. Five shipments are planned to move all 15 CASTOR containers, the article says.
Find background in the CLEW dossier The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out.
Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten
East German federal states Saxony and Thuringia have turned to the country’s federal government as well as the European Union to garner support for their ailing solar power industry, Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten reports. Both states’ economy ministers said they were going to gauge support options, and work towards changing the scope of solar power auctions to ensure that not the cheapest but rather the most environmentally friendly technology receives support, the article says. The insolvency of PV panel producer Solarworld has affected both regions, where the company has around 2,000 employees.
See the CLEW article Last major German solar cell maker surrenders to Chinese competition for background.
Despite continuing subsidies for wind power, the technology is likely to prove very beneficial for regional economies in Germany in the long run, Steffen Höhne writes in a commentary for Mitteldeutsche Zeitung. In the eastern German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt alone, wind power has created about 23,000 jobs, “about the same level as the chemical or food industries,” Höhne says. Each job has been subsidised “with tens of thousands of euros” by power customers, and “it was worth it”, he argues. Wind and solar power “are likely to be among the big economic trends of the 21st century”, and will start to become profitable without public support, Höhne writes.
See the CLEW factsheet German onshore wind power – output, business and perspectives for more information.
Companies in Germany’s industrial powerhouse North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) have called for the postponement of the grid fee reform, which the government plans to pass this week, the regional newspaper Rheinische Post reports. Some local branches of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (IHK) said the issue should be addressed by the next government instead, stressing that the regional alignment of grid fees would cost consumers and industry in NRW 500 million euros per year. Companies in the region consume 40 percent of Germany’s industrial power, note the chambers.
Grid fees paid by consumers in regions with a high share of renewables, mainly in eastern and northern Germany, are around twice as high as in NRW. Regions with high fees call for the national alignment of the fees in the law.
Read the article in German here.
Find data on NRW’s power mix in the factsheet Facts on the German state elections in North-Rhine-Westphalia, and background on grid fees in the factsheets Power grid fees – Unfair and opaque?, and What German households pay for power.
Brandenburg economics ministry
The Social Democrat-led Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy of the eastern German state of Brandenburg has called for abolishing the country’s core law on financing the roll-out of renewables, the Renewable Energy Act (EEG). The law is unfair because poorer households must spend a comparatively large share of their income on the renewable surcharge, while wealthy households can benefit by investing in renewables, a press release quoted Brandenburg’s Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Albrecht Gerber, as telling a conference in Berlin. He said that in the medium term, the federal government should provide the funds necessary for the roll-out of renewables.
Read the press release in German here.
For background on the ongoing reform debate, read the factsheet Germany ponders how to finance renewables expansion in the future.
Federal Ministry for the Economy and Energy
Germany's economy ministry (BMWi) has signed a contract with the country's nuclear plant operators that regulates the funding of nuclear waste disposal, the BMWi has said in a press release. The BMWi and the four utilities E.ON, EnBW, RWE and Vattenfall agreed that responsibility for the intermediate and final storage of nuclear waste rests with the state while the companies are responsible for dismantling nuclear plants as well as safely packaging the radioactive residuals. The utilities also agreed to pay roughly 24 billion euros into a state-administered fund meant to partially finance the nuclear waste storage.
See the CLEW factsheet Securing utility payments for the nuclear clean-up for more information.