Uniper’s bet on fossils / Reforming access to e-car chargers
The fact that E.ON sticks to the majority Uniper sale in September despite the fossil spin-off’s lousy results is a bet on the future of the Energiewende, writes Daniel Wetzel in Die Welt. Renewable power’s share will remain stuck in low single digits and fossil plants should remain essential on many dark days without wind, according to Wetzel. “If Uniper has the necessary stamina, it could appear a knight in shining armour with its dinosaur plants in a few years’ time and cash-in accordingly.” Uniper CEO Klaus Schäfer believes Germany will have to follow the example of other European countries and introduce a capacity mechanism, involving payments to fossil plant operators to secure supply security, according to Wetzel.
Read the article in German here.
For background on E.ON’s spin-off plans and the misery of Germany’s large utilities, read the CLEW factsheet E.ON shareholders ratify energy giant's split.
E.ON-spinoff Uniper is often seen as the Energiewende’s bad bank or left-over sale, writes Helmut Bünder in a commentary for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Whenever Uniper CEO Klaus Schäfer talks of “upside potential”, he means it can’t get worse, according to Bünder. The company’s results might show that energy trading picked up this year thanks to cheaper Russian gas, but the power plant business is heading downward fast. Demands for a faster coal exit and EU plans to increase the price of CO2 emissions pose considerable risks for Uniper’s future, writes Bünder.
Read the commentary in German here.
Government plans to let e-car drivers use all public charging stations without prior registration or a contract with the operator are an important step for electric mobility, writes Ruth Herberg in Wirtschaftswoche. A mobile app could enable on-site registration and payment, according to Herberg. A lack of charging stations is one of the main obstacles for e-mobility in Germany, and current legislation allows charging station operators to restrict service to registered clients only. But it remains unclear when the changes will take effect.
Read the article in German here.
For background, read the CLEW dossier The energy transition and Germany’s transport sector and the factsheet Energiewende in transportation: Vague goals, modest strides.
Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung
A trial by utility Stadtwerke Hannover and university researchers has shown that electric cars are suitable to serve as flexible power storage to balance the grid, reports Bernd Haase in Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung. During the trial with 40 e-cars, it proved essential that car owners agreed to flexible charging times, because the majority initially wanted to charge their cars at peak load time between 6 and 8 o’clock in the evening, according to the report.
Find a press release on the trial in German here.
Germany’s membership in the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) is a paradox since the country’s decision to phase out nuclear power in 2000, writes Joachim Wille in Frankfurter Rundschau. Provisions of the membership contract still called on member states to facilitate investments in the development of nuclear energy, while Germany decided to shut down its last nuclear power plant by 2022. Hans-Josef Fell, member of the Green Party and one of the ‘fathers’ of the Renewable Energy Act, calls for the necessary functions of Euratom, such as security regulations, nuclear waste disposal and protection of the population from radioactivity, to be transferred to EU directives.
For an extensive background, read the CLEW dossier on The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out.
German gas company Thyssengas is planning a new pipeline that would connect its grid with the proposed Russian project Nord Stream 2 - even while the latter is strongly disputed, writes Jürgen Flauger in Handelsblatt. The company argues that gas supplies from other sources like the Netherlands would diminish in the near future. “I am absolutely convinced that Nord Stream 2 will come. We need [it],” Axel Botzenhardt, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Thyssengas, told the newspaper. Critics of Nord Stream 2, such as Poland, warn that the pipeline would lead to more EU-dependence on Russian supply.
The economic council of the German Christian Democrats (CDU) criticises environment minister Barbara Hendricks’ (Social Democrats) Climate Action Plan 2050 as a “horror catalogue for the economy”, writes Klaus Stratmann for Handelsblatt. In a position paper seen by Handelsblatt, the council says that the implementation of the current draft would “further set in stone the German special national path in climate policy and massively promote divestments as well as the creeping deindustrialisation of Germany as an industry location”.
Read the article (behind paywall) in German here.
Read a CLEW factsheet on the Climate Action Plan 2050.
The federal government “shows an alarming despondency” when it comes to its policy on a coal phase-out, writes Thorsten Knuf in an opinion piece for Frankfurter Rundschau. “Clear decisions about a long-term exit would be in the interest of the relevant companies and their employees. They would get planning security for decades. Now, they have to expect to be swept away by the force of the Energiewende in no time.”
The German government is “again leading the way in renewable energy policy” with the switch from set feed-in tariffs to an auction-based system for renewable power, writes Johannes Urpelainen, Associate Professor at Columbia University. “Auctions are the future for renewable energy now that the sector has left growing pains behind. However, much depends on the design of auctions and finding the right complementary policies for small-scale, distributed renewable electricity generation,” he wrote.
Read the article in English here.
Read a CLEW factsheet on EEG reform 2016 – switching to auctions for renewables and an in-depth dossier on The reform of the Renewable Energy Act.
The German commercial and industrial, as well as utility-scale storage markets, are surprisingly weak compared to the booming residential storage market, writes Julian Spector for Greentech Media. The weakness comes “in part because of its regionally interconnected grid. It’s not advantageous to buy expensive storage when Germans can sell excess power to any of its many neighboring countries”. This could change with the fast expansion of renewable power sources, writes Spector. Yet “ultimately, the growth of German commercial storage will depend on prices coming down from where they are today”.
Read the article in English here.
German Wind Energy Association (BWE)
The German Wind Energy Association (BWE) demands a governmentally-carried public debate among politicians, the industry and unions on a future energy concept for Germany to ensure a “basic consensus” in the society. In a press release, the BWE criticises that the current “aimless labouring stands in the way of a successful energy transition and is highly unsatisfying for all actors”.
Read the press release in German here.
Environment ministry (BMUB)
Expressways for bicycles are an important contribution to solve current transport problems, according to environment minister Barbara Hendricks. “Every other car ride is shorter than five kilometres. High speed cycle tracks can persuade many commuters to switch to bicycles, especially in combination with e-bikes,” the minister said in a press release about her visit to the model cycle expressway in the Ruhr area, which will connect eleven city-centres and four universities with a total length of 101 kilometres.
Read the ministry’s press release here.