13 Dec 2016, 00:00
Ruby Russell Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

State rail to contribute to nuclear fund / Grid fee reform


German national railway company Deutsche Bahn will have to indirectly contribute around 350 million euros to the state-administered fund to finance interim and final storage of nuclear waste in 2017, report Jürgen Flauger and Dieter Flockenbrock for Handelsblatt. A Bahn spokesperson said the obligation is the result of power supply contracts between DB and German utility EnBW. The railway company has shares in EnBW, which operates the Neckarwestheim nuclear power plant. “The contracts not only provide a reliable power supply to Deutsche Bahn, but also obligate the company to partake in the operational, dismantling and waste disposal costs,” write Flauger and Flockenbrock. Around 16 percent of Bahn’s power consumption is covered by nuclear. The company is unlikely to be the only business other than the nuclear plant operators themselves that will have to contribute to financing interim and final storage of nuclear waste, the article says: “A few local utilities will probably also have to contribute.”

Read the article (behind paywall) in German here.

For background read the CLEW article German utilities buy out of nuclear waste liability for 23.6 bln euros.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung / ewi ER&S

Grid fees in western Germany are set to rise sharply in 2017, while fees in the east fall, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reports. According to the research institute ewi ER&S, industrial enterprises connected to the high voltage grid will see the biggest impact of a planned reform of grid fees, facing price hikes of up to 72 percent in the west and cuts of up to 28 percent in eastern Germany, the article says. Private customers are expected to see more moderate effects, with households in west Germany paying up to 6 percent more, and those in the east up to 3 percent less. The reform aims to “more evenly distribute grid costs among grid users,” the study explains. Industrial customers in the densely populated west currently pay less for using the grid than those in the relatively sparsely populated east.

See the study in German here and the article in German here.

For more information on the Energiewende’s transmission infrastructure, read the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s power grid.

Rheinische Post

The Lower Rhine Chamber of Industry and Commerce has warned against planned legislation to standardise electricity grid fees across the country, the Rheinische Post reports. The organisation, which represents business interests in the region appealed to to North Rhine-Westphalia’s state premier Hannelore Kraft (Social Democrats) to speak out against a draft bill aimed at modernising the structure of grid fees. It says the law would put an increased financial burden of 500 million euros on local industry, damaging its competitiveness. 

See the article in German here.

Die Welt

Volkswagen's competitors see its decision to build a battery cell factory for serial production in Germany as a concession to its workers’ council, rather than an economically promising endeavour, writes Philipp Vetter for Die Welt. “VW is forced by its workers’ council to make another ruinous investment,” a board member of another carmaker told the newspaper. Most carmakers in Germany already have supply contracts with Asian battery cell manufacturers with prices and cruising ranges guaranteed until 2022, the source said. Last year, Daimler halted a battery cell production project in Germany, writing off more than 100 million euros in investment, Vetter writes. He cites high energy costs as one of the main reasons manufacturers refrain from producing batterys in Germany.

See the article in German here.

Read more on the restructuring of Germany’s automotive industry in the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.

German Federal Government

Germany will have to gradually lower its coal-fired power production to meet its climate targets, the federal government writes in response to a parliamentary inquiry by the Left Party. But it adds that a coal phase-out cannot commence until regions have "concrete perspectives for their future". The coal-mining regions of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lusatia will be supported by a regional fund to foster investment and business start-up costs, the government says.

See the government’s response here.

For background on the role of coal mining in Germany’s climate policy see the CLEW article Coal exit dispute delays Germany’s Climate Action Plan.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks’s statement about a possible scrap bonus for combustion engines hints at a coercive policy approach to reducing cutting emissions from the transport sector, Heike Göbel writes in a commentary for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). Hendricks said a scrap bonus could not be ruled out, revealing that she “already has the next wave of subsidies in mind,” Göbel says, adding that the minister's failure to suggest a possible date could be explained by her seeking to avoid public vexation in the upcoming election year. “After all, citizens already pay quite a lot for the Energiewende,” she writes. 

Find more information on private costs of the Energiewende in the CLEW factsheet What German households pay for power.

Frankfurter Rundschau

The government’s decision to finance the country’s nuclear waste management with a public fund could poison the national debate for years to come, Thorsten Knuf writes in an opinion piece for Frankfurter Rundschau. Nuclear plant operators agreed to pay around 23 billion euros into the fund, relieving themselves of any further liabilities. In return, they are to waive claims for compensation for the 2011 acceleration of the nuclear phase-out – except for two substantial claims they so far appear to be pursuing further, Knuf says. “The government has to stand its ground in the coming negotiations,” Knuf writes, calling on Berlin to withdraw the fund as a solution to pay for nuclear waste disposal if the companies continue with their remaining claims.

Read more on the utilities’ compensation claims in the CLEW article Germany’s constitutional court backs speedy nuclear exit and the CLEW factsheet Legal disputes over the nuclear phase-out.

Companies in Germany used about 9,347 tonnes of fluorocarbons in 2015, up by around 72 tonnes, or 0.8 percent, on the previous year, Germany’s statistics agency Destatis says in a press release. In 2014, the particularly harmful greenhouse gas accounted for 1.2 percent of Germany’s of total emissions of 11.1 million tonnes of CO2-equivalents, the agency explains. Under an EU regulation that took effect in 2015, fluorocarbon use must be reduced by 80 percent by 2030, compared to the 2009-2012 average.

Read the press release in German here.

Read more on the Energiewende and emissions in the CLEW dossier The energy transition and climate change.

German Advisory Council on Global Change

The G20 must resolutely advance and implement both the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, according to a special report by German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU), an independent scientific advisory body. The nations should view the shift to sustainability and decarbonisation as a “modernisation project for the global economy that offers significant opportunities,” the report says. The “weal and woe of the planet” depends on the G20, which are responsible for 80 percent of global GDP and 82 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The report – presented to the German federal government in Berlin today – makes policy and project proposals for the German G20 presidency and beyond. Among other things, it recommends setting up transformative sovereign wealth funds (future funds) – financed by pricing CO2 emissions and a reformed estate tax – that invest in industries key to the transition. However, environment minister Barbara Hendricks said at the press conference this method of financing would not find majority political support in Germany, either now or in the foreseeable future.

Find the WBGU press release here and download the special report in English here.

For background read the CLEW article IEA director calls on Germany to lead on climate during G20 presidency.

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