19 Oct 2016, 00:00
Sören Amelang Julian Wettengel

State takes on responsibility for nuclear waste storage

Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

The federal cabinet today decided on draft legislation for a nuclear clean-up pact that would rid utilities of the responsibility for storing Germany’s radioactive waste. Germany’s four nuclear power station operators, RWE, E.ON, EnBW and Vattenfall, are to pay a total of 23.56 billion euros into a state-administered fund to finance interim and final storage of the waste. An additional “risk surcharge” amounts to 6.17 billion euros. This is to reflect that costs could possibly exceed current projections and that the return on capital in the fund could be lower than expected. “We ensure that financing the shut-down, decommissioning and waste disposal is guaranteed in the long term, without one-sidedly burdening the society with the cost, and without endangering the economic situation of the operators,” federal economy minister Sigmar Gabriel said in a press release. The responsibility for decommissioning and deconstructing the nuclear power plants, as well as packaging the radioactive waste will remain with the utilities. The economy ministry’s goal is that the legislation is implemented before year’s end, after parliamentary approval.

Read the press release in German here and information on the legislation draft in German here.

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

Please note: The Clean Energy Wire will publish an article on the cabinet decision shortly.

Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

The federal cabinet today decided on reform drafts for two energy policy projects:
The law regulating state support for combined heat and power (CHP) plants will be changed to include tenders for CHP facilities with a capacity of 1-50 megawatts, according to a press release by Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).
Changes to the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) mean that power produced for self-consumption from old facilities will continue to be exempt from the renewables surcharge, while a reduced amount would have to be paid in case of modernised facilities. Electricity from new fossil-fuel-powered facilities – even if used for self-consumption – will be charged with the full renewable surcharge.
The changes to the relevant legislation became necessary after the federal government had struck a deal with the EU Commission on state-aid related aspects of Germany’s new power market law and other energy policy issues. The economy ministry plans the reformed legislation to be enacted by 1 January 2017.

Read the press release in German here and the legislation draft in German here.

For background read the CLEW article Agreement with EU Commission clears way for German power market reform.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Robert Habeck, state Energiewende minister of Schleswig-Holstein, claims the federal government plans to limit wind power development in northern Germany due to lagging grid expansion by establishing “grid congestion zones”, while nuclear and coal-fired power plants could continue to feed excess power into the region’s electricity grids, writes Peter Burghardt in Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ). “While renewable energy development is limited, nuclear and coal-fired power plants are not only allowed to continue to produce power, but excess electricity can be passed on to nuclear power plants in the grid congestion zones,” said Habeck. German nuclear power plants each have a maximum amount of electricity they are allowed to produce until their shut-down, according to SZ. However, remaining quantities of power can be transferred to other nuclear power plants – also to the ones in the grid congestion zones. 

Read the article in German here.

Also read the CLEW article Wind development has to wait for grid expansion and the CLEW dossier The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out for background.


German carmakers’ grand promises on going electric may be more about buying time than a complete shift of focus, writes Jack Stewart in Wired. A big part of the problem is that customers are not clamouring for electrics, while regulators around the world demand cleaner cars. “Automakers have recognized they need an electric halo product so they don’t look like they’re being left behind,” Steward notes, with reference to recent product announcements. “Automakers avoid going all-in on electrics because the profit margins stink.”

Read the article in English here.

Also read the new CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.

Find more details on the carmakers’ plans in the CLEW factsheets Dieselgate forces VW to embrace green mobility, Reluctant Daimler plans “radical” push into new mobility world, and Early e-car starter BMW plans new mobility sprint.


German carmakers are trying to prove they can re-invent the automobile, report Matthew Karnitschnig and Janosch Delcker in Politico. “With strong brands and deep pockets, German car companies argue they are perfectly placed to seize the opportunity to take the car from its fume-spewing present to a clean, connected future. But are they?” Car executives boast that they are up to the challenge but it is far from clear they can compete in a world where software is more important than horsepower. The authors argue that a lot is at stake: “Put simply, as the German auto industry goes, so goes Germany, and so goes Europe.”

Read the article in English here.

Frankfurter Allgemeine / Süddeutsche Zeitung

VW’s work council has made an agreement with management on future job cuts conditional on building a battery factory, reports Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “The agreement could fall through. Especially if there is no promise by the company to enter batteries,” council head Bernd Osterloh told Süddeutsche Zeitung. He said battery production should make up for the jobs that will be lost in car-making.

Read the FAZ article in German here, and the Süddeutsche Zeitung report in German here


German automotive supplier Continental expects its 2017 profit to be significantly lower than the previous year. The drop is down to “potential expenditure for warranties and pending antitrust proceedings and the aftermath of three earthquakes in Japan as well as high R&D advances,” the company said in an ad-hoc message. Higher expenditures for research and development were most likely due to the “unexpectedly fast development of purely battery-powered drives”, according to analysts from Barclays, writes Handelsblatt in a separate article.

Read the article in German here and Continental’s ad-hoc message in English here.

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