An unconstitutional nuclear phase-out? / Vattenfall's 'coal chaos'

Süddeutsche Zeitung

“Was the nuclear phase-out unconstitutional?”

Germany’s Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe will on Tuesday and Wednesday hear parties in the case of the country’s nuclear phase-out, which utilities claim interfered with their property rights, reports the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Power station operators say the government’s decision to shut all reactors by 2022 will cost them billions of euros in future earnings. E.ON’s lawyers say all nuclear companies together lose 120 billion euros and demands compensation. The government argues that the companies had been faced with a 2022 nuclear phase-out since the first nuclear exit decision in 2001 anyway. It says the short period in which they were given a run-time extension (between 2010 and 2011) before Angela Merkel’s government revoked this decision after Fukushima was not enough for them to make investments based on legally protected good faith. It could also be questioned whether the nuclear exit even touches upon the property rights of the utilities, because the state has wide-ranging political scope when it comes to restricting risky nuclear technology.

Read the article in German here.

Read a CLEW factsheet about the legal implications of the nuclear phase-out here.

 

Handelsblatt

“Within their rights”

Nobody, not even the heads of the large utilities E.ON and RWE, seriously questions the energy transition five years after Fukushima, writes Jürgen Flauger in an op-ed for the Handelsblatt. But it is good that the Constitutional Court is deciding on the utilties’ law suits, because the question of whether everything was done in a legally correct way when the government decided on the nuclear exit needs answering. The companies’ CEOs owe it to their shareholders to fight for compensation if the government made mistakes, Flauger argues.

 

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“Billion euro law suit against nuclear phase-out”

The curious aspect of the utilities’ legal action at the Constitutional Court is that they are already thinking about abandoning it, writes Joachim Jahn in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Taking back their law suit against the government over the nuclear phase-out of 2011 could become part of a deal about who pays for the decommissioning of old nuclear plants and storage of radioactive waste, the author says, referring to sources among the plaintiffs.

Read the article in German here.

Read a CLEW factsheet about securing utility payments for the nuclear clean-up here.

 

Federal Association of Cooperatives (DGRV) / Greenpeace Energy

“Equal opportunities for citizens’ energy projects”

The German Cooperative and Raiffeisen Confederation (DGRV) and energy cooperative Greenpeace Energy have tabled a new proposal to secure the future of citizens' wind parks in the pending transition to an auction-based renewable system. The cooperatives propose that citizens’ wind projects do not participate directly at the tenders for wind farms likely starting in 2017. Instead, they should be awarded the feed-in tariff that resulted in the auctions in retrospect. “This process will ensure that citizens’ energy will be preserved as a driver of the Energiewende and won’t be left behind by large competitors,” said Greenpeace Energy spokesman Marcel Keiffenheim in a press release.
The ministry for economics and energy has recently proposed amendments in its reform plans for the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) to improve the chances for citizens’ energy projects. Energy state secretary Rainer Baake said at the DGRV conference that it was his ministry’s firm intention to preserve the variety of actors that is a “trademark of the German energy transition”. But he said the successful participation of cooperatives at least year’s solar tenders was proof that citizens’ energy projects can compete successfully at auctions.

Find the proposal in German here.

Read a factsheet on the reform of the Renewable Energy Act here.

 

Klimaretter.info

“The government re-monopolises renewables”

The government’s plan to introduce auctions for renewable installations was endangering the sector that was so far dominated by small and medium sized cooperatives and companies, Hermann Albers, head of the German Wind Energy Association (BWE) told Klimaretter.info. He was under the impression that the auction model was a means to organise a re-monopolisation of the energy supply so that it will not be as decentralised and citizen-dominated as before, he said. Large power suppliers could enter into the auctions with dumping prices because they could get their losses back by raising the power price for their customers. Citizen cooperatives who do not have this customer base would not be able to compete, Albers said.

Read the interview in German here.

 

Deutschlandfunk

“AfD – Pool for climate sceptics and opponents of the Energiewende?”

It is difficult to assess what position the right-wing Alternative für Deutschland party (AfD), which was voted into the parliaments of three German states at the weekend, has on climate policy because it does not have a party programme, the Deutschlandfunk reports. AfD members argued during the campaign that the energy transition was making power expensive for ordinary people and that fossil fuels and nuclear power should be kept in the power supply. The AfD in Baden-Württemberg was opposed to wind power because “it made people ill” and “disfigured the landscape”. In Saxony-Anhalt, the party is in favour of local lignite power production because it would make Germany independent of imports of energy commodities. The party also questions anthropogenic climate change as very uncertain.

Read the article in German here.

Read a CLEW factsheet on the states that recently had elections here.

 

Bild Zeitung

“Coal chaos”

Utility Vattenfall is allegedly thinking about not going through with the sale of its lignite operations in Germany - shortly before the end of the bidding period, the mass daily Bild Zeitung reports. The buying prices offered by the interested parties were not high enough and Vattenfall would not sell the lignite assets at any price, an insider told the paper.

Read a CLEW factsheet about Vattenfall’s coal assets in Germany here.

 

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“Germany’s power plug is in the north-east”

A total of 49 percent of electricity consumed in the transmission grid zone of grid operator 50Hertz in north-east Germany comes from renewable installations, the company said on Monday. Investment into the power lines of 50Hertz has hit a record 902 million euros, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. Re-dispatch measures cost 350 million euros in 2015. 50Hertz benefits from the grid expansion, and from north-east Germany becoming the “power plug” of the country, as CEO Boris Schucht puts it. However, he does not approve of putting the cost burden for the expansion mostly on the people living in these regions, the paper reports.

Read the 50Hertz press release in English here.

Read a CLEW dossier on the grid expansion here.

 

Carbon Market Watch

“EU hands industry €24 billion in pollution windfall”

Energy intensive companies from 19 European countries have earned 24 billion euros between 2008 and 2014 under the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), a study by think tank Carbon Market Watch shows. The companies secured windfall profits by being awarded too many free emission allowances which they could sell for a profit. They also bought cheaper international offsets for their emissions or passed through “costs” for freely obtained emission allowances to their customers, the report found. German industry benefited from 4.5 billion euros during this period.

Read the Carbon Market Watch analysis in English here.

 

EurObserv’ER

State of Renewable Energies in Europe

Germany led the way in 2014 in installed wind power capacity and generation, photovoltaic capacity and production, power production from biogas, and electricity and heat production from renewable urban waste, according to the 2015 edition by EurObserv’ER on the share and development of renewable energies in EU member states. In the share of renewables in electricity consumption, Germany ranges mid-field, with countries like Austria, Sweden, Denmark and Italy posing higher shares.

Download the overview in English here.

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