15 Sep 2015, 00:00
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UPDATE: Econ minister refutes reports about nuclear stress test

Economy Ministry/Reuters

German economy min: No nuclear stress test results yet

Germany's energy minister Sigmar Gabriel rejected media reports about provisioning shortfalls for nuclear clean-up costs at the country's large utilities, calling the reports "irresponsible speculation", Reuters reports.
In a release published on the ministry's website Gabriel said that there were no results of the stress test yet, adding that his ministry did not even have a draft of the auditors' report.

For a Reuters story click here.

For a Bloomberg story click here.

Find the energy ministry's release in German here.


Agora Energiewende

"Wholesale power future declines, renewable energy surcharge to rise – each by 0.3 cent per KWh”

Consumers can expect unchanged power prices in the coming year, according to calculations by think tank Agora Energiewende*. Wholesale prices for power to be delivered in 2016 have declined by 0.32 cents to 3.25 cents per KWh, equivalent to nine percent, in the past twelve months compared to the previous year, a press release says. The renewables surcharge consumers pay with their power bills is therefore likely to increase to the same degree – from the current 6.17 cents to between 6.4 and 6.6 cents per KWh. That's because the surcharge makes up the difference between the wholesale price and a state-guaranteed feed-in tariff for renewable power.
“The renewables surcharge rises to the same degree as wholesale prices decline,” said Agora head Patrick Graichen. “This means power consumers will not have to pay more than today if utilities make an honest calculation. But consumers will get much more renewable energy for their money: Whereas this year around 30 percent was generated by wind, solar and other sources, their share should rise to between 32 and 33 percent in 2016.”

Read the press release in German here.

Find a factsheet explaining how the green energy surcharge works here.


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“Power price arithmetic”

Low wholesale power prices are no cause for celebration, because it means the renewables surcharge will probably rise to a new record, writes Andreas Mihm in a commentary about the power price forecasts by Agora Energiewende. “There can also be no joy about low wholesale prices for the economy, as power prices are still among the highest in Europe,” writes Mihm. He says the low prices will aggravate the economic problems experienced by operators of conventional power plants. In an article on the subject, titled “The Energiewende becomes dearer again,” Mihm says total surcharges paid by an average household may increase by up to 25 euros per year, from the current 216 euros, including other costs related to the Energiewende. 

Read the article in German here.


Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) / Fraunhofer ISI

“More opportunities for renewable energies through flexibility”

The Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has published an analysis of the factors influencing the market value of renewable power. Researchers at Fraunofer ISI, commissioned by the ministry, found that income opportunities for fluctuating renewable sources such as wind and solar power, could increase considerably by 2030 and 2050 if the energy system became more flexible. State secretary Rainer Baake from the BMWi said the study showed that “if we promote grid expansion and lower production from conventional power plants, the market value of renewables will increase and their need for state support will fall.” He added that measures proposed in the ministry’s white paper on a new power market design would improve the market opportunities for renewables and increase the efficiency and security of the power system.

Read the study in German here.



“Solar eclipse”

Deep cuts in financial support have led to a rapid decrease in new solar power installations, reports the Tagesspiegel in an article surveying the state of the industry. The government aims for a newly installed PV capacity of between 2,400 and 2,600 MW this year, but experts expect only 1,200 MW. The German Solar Industry Association (BSW) told the paper that  mainly very small arrays are currently being installed, often in combination with battery storage. The author suggests this is because battery storage receives “generous” financial support. Proponents of citizens' energy projects say that the new tenders for larger solar arrays put private individuals and  cooperatives at a disadvantage, compared to large professional investors.


 Institute for Applied Ecology

“Using instead of owning – good for the environment and jobs”

Carsharing, flat shares and other forms of the ‘collaborative economy’ can contribute significantly to the reduction of CO2 emissions while creating additional jobs, according to a study by the Institute for Applied Ecology.  An increased roll-out of car-sharing and improvements in public transport alone can save more than six million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year, equivalent to about four percent of total emissions in the transport sector, according to the study. The authors argue the regulatory framework is crucial for the further development of the collaborative economy.

Find the study in German here.


Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)

Power market 2.0 consultation

The Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has officially started the consultation process on the new draft law for power market design. NGOs and federal states have till 29 September to issue their comments on the ministry’s proposal for a “power market 2.0”.

Read the announcement in German here.

Read a CLEW article on the new power market draft law here.


Süddeutsche Zeitung

“New challenges for commission on final nuclear repository”

The expert commission charged with developing a method to find a final repository for Germany’s highly radioactive waste may face delays, writes Michael Bauchmüller in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Since the Environment Ministry announced in August that extra waste from the damaged repository Asse may have to be stored alongside casks with heat-generating waste, a new type of storage facility or a third site could be required, members of the commission said on Monday.

Read a CLEW dossier on the challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out here.


Rheinische Post / Spiegel Online

“Nuclear clean-up provisions: Energy companies lack 30 billion euros”

First results of a stress test of nuclear clean-up provisions set aside by large energy companies are showing a deficit of 30 billion euros for decommissioning atomic power station and storing radioactive waste, Spiegel Online and other papers report, without naming sources. The big four German utilities have made provisions of 38 billion euros so far. But according to auditors at Warth Klein Grant Thornton who undertook the stress test for the economics and energy ministry, E.ON lacked 9-12 billion euros and RWE 7.5-10 billion euros, mainly due to exaggerated interest rate expectations, writes Antje Höning in the Rheinische Post. That compares to a RWE's current market capitalisation of 7 billion euros, and E.ON’s valuation of 17 billion euros, Höning says. According to the stress test, the companies have amassed enough money to pay for decommissioning and dismantling their nuclear power stations, but not for finding and building a final repository for radioactive waste. Based on the stress test results – which are still not public – an expert commission will make suggestions in autumn on how to proceed with the nuclear phase-out and whether the power companies will retain their provisions or should pay them into a state operated fund.

Read the report on Spiegel Online in German here.

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



“Fighting over nuclear clean-up costs like Tom and Jerry”

The big four utilities in Germany are like mice who failed to realise their supply of cheese would run out when the nuclear phase-out was decided over a decade ago, writes Claudia Kemfert in an opinion piece for Capital. Now they are telling the state they unfortunately don't have enough money left to pay for the nuclear clean-up and that the government should take responsibility for storing their nuclear waste instead. A public fund, together with a top-up liability from the utilities would be a good solution to finance the phase-out, if it turns out the money isn't enough, writes Kemfert.

Read the op-ed in German here.


Rhein-Neckar Zeitung

“Power giant supplies electricity to 120,000 households”

Utility Großkraftwerke Mannheim AG has started full operations of a 911 MW combined heat and power coal fired power station “Block 9” near Mannheim, Wolf Goldschmitt reports for the Rhein-Neckar Zeitung. The 1.3 billion-euro project which is partially owned by RWE and EnBW, will supply power for 40 years, the article says. It has an efficiency factor of 46.4 percent.

Read the article in German here.

*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
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