German utility E.ON’s fossil-fuel subsidiary Uniper plans layoffs and wage cuts due to challenges caused by the country’s transition to low-carbon energy generation, Rheinische Post reports. During collective negotiations with trade unions Verdi and IG BCE, Uniper is said to have demanded cuts in wages and grants by up to 25 percent, and to cut around 500 of its 13,000 jobs, according to the report. The company introduced an austerity programme last year that is supposed to reduce costs by 400 million euros annually until the end of 2018. In 2016, Uniper incurred 3.2 billion euros in losses and has not ruled out a negative balance for 2017 as well, Rheinische Post writes. The company itself did not comment on its austerity measures, it adds.
Read the article in German here.
For background, see the CLEW factsheet E.ON shareholders ratify energy giant’s split.
Energie & Management
The first annual presentation of balance sheet figures by German utilities RWE and E.ON, as well as by their spin-offs innogy and Uniper, has dealt a heavy blow to aspirations that the split would allow the battered companies a fresh start, Ralf Köpke writes in an opinion piece for Energie & Management. “The energy-giants have shrunk and yesterday’s problems remain tomorrow’s problems,” he writes. Out of the four companies, only innogy presented satisfying profits, while the others incurred billions of euros in losses. “It has been less than a decade that E.ON, RWE and Co. decried renewable energies as permanent subsidy-recipients,” Köpke writes. Now they reiterated their calls for capacity management of fossil power plants, “dressing it up as a contribution to supply security, while in reality it’s nothing more than subsidies”, he explains.
Read the commentary in German here.
For background, see the CLEW dossier Utilities and the energy transition.
Ill-advised legislation and an alienation of citizens from renewable investments put the success of Germany’s energy transition in jeopardy, Hans-Josef Fell writes for EurActiv. The country continued to be internationally celebrated for its Energiewende, but “the truth is there have been massive drawbacks in the last few years in all renewable energy sectors with the exception of wind”, Fell argues. Other countries are overtaking Germany while many renewable industries in the country struggle for survival, he writes, tracing current problems back to a string of detrimental policies taken since Chancellor Angela Merkel took office in 2005.
Read the article in English here.
For more information on German climate leadership, see the CLEW article Germany reiterates G20 climate focus at energy transition conference.
Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs
Germany and Australia have signed a letter of intent to intensify cooperation in the areas of energy and resources, the German economy ministry said in a press release. Rainer Baake, German state secretary in the economy ministry, and his Australian colleague Gordon de Brouwer signed the documents during the international conference Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue. Its central aim is “to support and speed up the transition to an environmentally friendly, secure and affordable energy supply” by increasing energy productivity and expanding renewable energy sources, the press release said. “The highly developed and engineered economies of Australia and Germany can learn a lot from each other in the essential areas of energy and resource supply,” Baake said.
Read the press release in English here.
For more information, see this CLEW selection of Quotes from the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue.
Germany may boast an image as a frontrunner for decarbonising economic activity but the country’s love of big car engines has foiled aspirations to steadily lower greenhouse gas emissions, David Charter writes for The Times. “While only 11,000 Germans bought electric cars last year — despite cash incentives — 716,000 chose SUVs or off-road vehicles,” Charter explains, based on figures by the German Federal Environment Agency released at the beginning of the week.
Read the article in English here.
Die Welt Online
“Some climate protection advocates rhetorically resemble religious fanatics,” Michael Fabricius writes in a commentary for Die Welt Online. If two major energy agencies demand a sevenfold increase in CO2-emissions reduction “without explaining how that is going to work, they do nothing but to reinforce the moral self-esteem of their fellow believers”, Fabricius writes. “Climate protection won’t benefit from that,” he argues, saying that other groups of society are repelled by calls for higher investments in the energy sector. “Climate change is an undeniable fact,” Fabricius writes, adding that “mankind in any case has to prepare for taking the leap into non-fossil energy provision”. Continuously making greater and more costly demands will not be conducive, he argues.
Read the opinion piece in German here.
For background, see the CLEW dossier The energy transition and climate change.
Germany’s wind power industry is located in the northern parts of the country but the western and southern federal states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Wurttemberg are home to a large number of suppliers, Klaus Stratmann writes on Handelsblatt online. Wind power employs around 143,000 people in Germany, according to a recent study, Stratmann explains. The offshore wind industry can mostly be found along the German coasts, but service providers and operators are spread throughout the country, creating jobs “even if the affected state itself lags behind in terms of wind power expansion”, Stratmann quotes the German Wind Energy Association’s president, Hermann Albers.
Read the article in German here (behind paywall).
Frankfurter Allgemeine online
The German authority responsible for ensuring the correct functioning of smart electricity meters examines whether tighter regulations for producers are necessary, Hanna Decker writes on Frankfurter Allgemeine online. Following a Dutch study, according to which smart meter results deviated up to more than 580 percent from actual power consumption, Germany’s national metrology institute PTB said it was unlikely similar measurement errors had occurred in Germany too, Decker writes. But the PTB was going to take the news from the Netherlands “very seriously” and consult producers on the matter. The German parliament last year enacted legislation that gradually makes the use of smart meters compulsory, Decker adds.
Read the article in German here.
Find the Dutch study in English here.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
German engineering heavyweight Bosch is going to bridle at the impending driving ban for cars with diesel engines in its hometown Stuttgart, Susanne Preuss and Carsten Knop write in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner argues the path to cleaner air should be pursued “technology-neutral”, saying that “competition for the best solution was always what encouraged creativity in our industry”, the newspaper reports. Denner said the “demonisation” of a technology would only “alienate customers”, calling for a “fact-based discussion”. Sales figures of diesel cars are falling in Germany and, in addition to Stuttgart, many other cities are working on legal concepts to curb the use of the technology within their boundaries, the authors write. Bosch is the world’s largest supplier of diesel technology, employing about 50,000 people in this branch alone, they add.
For more information, see the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.