28 Nov 2016, 00:00
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

Swiss reject speedy nuclear exit / Hackers threat to power supply?


Swiss voters have rejected their country’s speedy abolition of nuclear power production, the news agency Reuters reports. In a referendum held on Sunday, almost 55 percent of voters opposed plans to shut down Switzerland’s five nuclear power plants. The proposal was rejected due to “concerns over losing energy independence” despite safety worries highlighted by the referendum’s initiator’s, Reuters writes. The initiative calling for a shutdown of the country’s nuclear plants until 2029 had been fought by the Swiss government and industry on the grounds that it would make Switzerland “more dependent on coal-fired power from neighbouring Germany”, according to Reuters.              

Germany’s example of exiting nuclear power production by 2022 had been discussed extensively in Swiss media in the weeks leading up to the referendum.

Read the article in English here.

For more information on the Energiewende’s impact on other European countries, read the CLEW dossier Germany's energy transition in the European context.

For background on Germany's nuclear exit, read the CLEW dossier The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out. Nuclear power stations in Switzerland

Federal Ministry for the Environment and Nuclear Safety

Despite Switzerland’s rejection of a quick nuclear exit, nuclear power production remains “a phase-out model” in the country, Germany’s environment ministry (BMUB) state secretary Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter said in a press release. Sunday’s referendum result had been a “disappointment for everyone seeking clarity when exactly Switzerland will shut down its last nuclear plant,” she added. According to the German state secretary, the industry now will have to put up with “uncertainty over Switzerland’s future energy policy.”

Read the press release in German here.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

German energy providers have insufficient IT security against cyber attacks which could lead to large power blackouts, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reports. Many providers lacked “contingency plans” for attacks by hackers and did not have a properly structured IT-crisis management, IT-security adviser Oliver Neumann told the newspaper. “Many energy providers’ appreciation of IT-security is not as developed as it should be at,” he added. The decentralised and digitally coordinated power supply structure associated with energy transition only made matters worse, FAZ explains. The German government recently passed a law allowing federal IT-security experts to help providers in case of an attack but it will take some time to ensure that emergency plans are applicable throughout the country, the newspaper warns.

Read the article in German here (behind paywall).

For background on Germany’s decentralised power production, read the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s power grid.

Konrad Adenauer Stiftung

For China, India, Russia and the USA, climate protection plays a minor role among reasons to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to a study by conservative foundation Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS). Fighting poverty, ensuring economic competitiveness and air pollution are often more important, the study based on national surveys found. These results were relevant for Germany’s international commitment in the area of climate policy. The authors call on German stakeholders to align their cooperation projects with the specific motivations and obstacles in the partner countries, because climate protection efforts might be more effective as a “by-product” of other objectives. “If we as Germans want to help drastically lower greenhouse gas emissions, we have to take into account the interests of other countries as precisely as possible. Cost, growth and wealth issues are on top of the list, climate protection comes later,” Jasper Eitze, coordinator for energy, climate and environment policy at KAS told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Find the study in German here and additional information in an article by FAZ in German here.

Allianz pro Schiene

Germany’s next government should increase the railway’s market share in transportation in order to meet the country’s climate goals, the transport alliance Allianz pro Schiene writes in a press release. The alliance of 23 non-profit organisations and over 135 companies from the railway sector calls for “a Germany-wide integrated timetable (‘Deutschland-Takt’), a 50 percent cut in track access charges, and the necessary support for innovation on the railways” in order to raise the railway’s market share. A nationwide timetable would “increase passenger numbers” while halved track access charges led to “a fairer competitive playing field”, the alliance writes. Supporting innovation would be needed to keep Germany’s railways competitive “in view of the increasing digitalisation of transport and mobility”, it adds.

Read the alliance’s press release in English here.


RWE’s green split-off innogy is working on a system that could make payments between users of e-cars and private providers of charging stations simpler and more secure, writes Manuel Heckel in Handelsblatt. The mode of payment based on the technology blockchain, which is also used for the digital currency bitcoin, could allow owners of charging stations to sell their power at a fixed rate without having to rely on the honesty of consumers. The technology could “make supervisory authority unnecessary” as a large number of computers connected to the internet individually documented every transaction, Heckel writes.

For more information on Germany’s infrastructure for e-mobility, read the CLEW factsheet Energiewende in transportation: Vague goals, modest strides.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Employees in Germany’s mighty car industry are increasingly worried the pending shift to e-cars will lead to massive job losses, report Karl-Heinz Büschemann and Thomas Fromm in Süddeutsche Zeitung. “We will get an enormous problem,” said Hartmut Geisel, vice head of industry supplier Bosch’s work council. Metalworkers’ union IG Metall says that out of a total of 880,000 car industry jobs in Germany, around 250,000 in conventional propulsion technologies are particularly affected. The union argues there will be a transition period of around 15 years “which must be used for an adaptation”.

Read the article in German here.

For more on the dramatic challenges for BMW, Daimler, and VW, read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.

Frankfurter Rundschau

The German buyer’s premium for electric cars agreed in spring has flopped - but the government still believes it’s too early to judge the scheme, writes Thorsten Knuf in Frankfurter Rundschau. Economy state secretary Matthias Machnig wrote in a reply to a question by the Green Party that the premium will have a stronger effect once the charging infrastructure is more extensive. “If the government continues like that, it will miss its target of one million e-cars by 2020,” writes Knuf.

Read the article in German here.

For background on the buyer’s premium, read the CLEW article Federal government decides on 4,000 euro buyer's premium for e-cars.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Poverty is only one of many explanations as to why around 350,000 German households have their electricity cut off every year because they did not pay their bills, reports Andreas Mihm in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. An as-yet unpublished study for the economics ministry shows that only one in two of the affected households depend on state benefits. “The problem of power cuts cannot be reduced to income poverty,” the article cites from the study, which says sudden life changes such as the transition to retirement, an illness, or the birth of a child, are also important reasons behind the power cuts.

For background, read the CLEW article Welfare groups urge power cost relief for German poor.

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