[Update] Ministry releases new draft version of renewables law

Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

New draft version of Renewable Energy Act released

The Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has released a new draft of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) – the main tool for supporting renewable development in Germany. The EEG 2016 is designed to stabilise the costs of the energy transition and boost public acceptance, said minister Sigmar Gabriel in a press release. The development of renewables will follow a set “expansion corridor” and guaranteed feed-in tariffs will be replaced by auctions, according to the proposed reform. The draft law will now be consulted on with civil society and the federal states.

Initial reactions from stakeholders:

Greenpeace said the “EEG draft is an embarrassing kowtow to the Christian Democrats in parliament, who want to choke the energy transition”. Minister Gabriel left important questions open, Tobias Austrup at Greenpeace added, such as how fast renewables could be expanded and how citizens could participate in the Energiewende in the future.

Fritz Brickwedde of the German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE) called for extensive amendments to the draft, “otherwise, the climate protection commitments made in Paris are not worth the paper the federal government signed.” Brickwedde warned that the proposed law would cement large, inefficient power plants into the system, while people-oriented supply and clever storage solutions seemed no longer to be desired.

The German Biogas Association (et al.), reiterated its demand to include biogas plants in the auction schemes, which are so far limited to wind and solar power.

Carsten Körnig, managing director of German Solar Industry Association (BSW) said: “Major consumers of ecologically harmful energy continue to be subsidised. Energy-conscious consumers and commercial enterprises on the other hand continue to have obstacles put in their way when investing in solar technology.”

Read the ministry press release in German here.

Find the draft bill in German here.

Read a CLEW factsheet about the key points of the new EEG here.

 

dpa / Handelsblatt

“Energy company Steag considers shutdown of coal-fired plants”

German energy company Steag is considering the shutdown of several of its eight German hard coal power plants, according to a dpa report. Facing competition from renewable power suppliers, Steag’s domestic revenues from electricity production and trade decreased last year, because of a lowering of wholesale power prices. Following write-downs and layoffs in 2015, Steag is facing further cuts in the near future, the article says. “Steag will be under increased pressure over the coming years,” said company boss Joachim Rumstadt, according to the article.

Read the article in German here.

Read a CLEW dossier about utilities in the energy transition here.

 

Climate Policy Initiative

"More than double the investment needed is available for German energy transition"

A study by the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) on the German energy transition has found that if policymakers maintain a mix of investors and address market design issues, 30 billion euros a year could be available for investment in a decarbonised economy – more than twice the amount needed to finance the addition of 7.4 gigawatt (GW) of new solar PV and wind capacity per year by 2020. Current government plans are looking at an addition of around 2.5 GW solar PV and 2.9 GW wind onshore capacity.

Read the summary of the report in English here.

Read a CLEW factsheet about the reform of the Renewable Energy Act here.

 

Handelsblatt

“The coal crime story”

This Sunday, the board of Swedish utility Vattenfall is to make a decision on the sale of the company's lignite coal operations in eastern Germany, the Handelsblatt reports. On Monday the supervisory board of the German daughter company will have to consent to plans to sell the mines and power stations to – in all likelihood – Czech utility EPH. As EPH already owns Germany's third largest lignite mining company Mibrag, it would become the sole owner of eastern Germany's lignite operations, the authors say. But even before the deal is sealed, the sale is being eyed with suspicion by Saxony’s state government, where some of the mines are located. Politicians want reassurance that the new owner will remain responsible for the renaturalisation of the mines and will do everything it can to secure jobs in the region.

Read the article (behind paywall) in German here.                      

 

Rheinische Post

“RWE owes North Rhine-Westphalia billions in investments“

Green politicians say German energy giant RWE owes the state of North Rhine-Westphalia 3 billion euros in investments, according to an article in Rheinische Post. In exchange for the permission to mine at the open lignite mine Garzweiler II in 1994/95, RWE agreed to invest more than 20 billion Deutschmarks (about 10 billion euros) in ecological projects in the region. Over the past two decades, the company has built modern lignite power plants and retrofitted older facilities. But, “up until now, RWE has insufficiently complied with its commitments,” says the Green Party's energy spokesperson in the state parliament Wibke Brems. RWE rejects the claims. A spokesperson said the company is continuing with plans to build a modern lignite power plant in the region and there has never been a fixed time limit for the investments.

Read the article in German here.

 

Der Tagesspiegel

“In cold storage”

A decision by the federal German government on the promotion of electric mobility will be postponed until the end of the month, Chancellor Angela Merkel said after a meeting with the leaders of the grand coalition government in Berlin. According to an article in Der Tagesspiegel, Merkel will meet with auto industry representatives and relevant ministers on April 26 to agree on how industry and government can reach the goal of 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2020. A current proposal for a 5,000-euro buyer’s premium for new electric cars has been criticised by finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble.

Read the article in German here.

 

pv magazine

Price of PV power comparable to onshore wind power

Solar PV power is becoming more competitive, with an average price of 7.41 cents/kilowatt-hour, after the Federal Network Agency awarded contracts in the fourth PV auction at the beginning of the week, according to an article in pv magazine. “Concerning the pricing, we are now reaching the level of onshore wind power,” German Solar Industry Association (BSW) president Carsten König told pv magazine. But König cautions: few PV systems from early rounds of auctions have been realised and it remains to be seen how many projects would actually be realised.

Read the pv magazine article in German here.

 

50Hertz

“Milestone for better load flow management between Germany and Poland”

North-East German transmission grid operator 50Hertz and its Polish counterpart PSE will start using the first of four "phase shifters" at the German-polish border in May, 50Hertz says. The phase shifters will help regulate electricity flows between the countries and prevent unwanted “loop-flows” through the Polish grid.

Read the press release in German here.

Read a CLEW article about the issue of loop-flows here and a factsheet here.

 

Süddeutsche Zeitung

“Stopping the transformation”

The French government has postponed decisions over shutting down nuclear power stations, writes Leo Klimm in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Environment minister Ségolène Royal wants to avoid conflict with the powerful public utilities, she told Le Monde. France’s energy transition plan was to cut the share of nuclear power in its energy mix from 75 to 50 percent by 2025. But this is now nearly impossible to achieve, writes Klimm. Germany has asked for two French reactors close to the German border to be shut down because they have been prone to technical difficulties. Berlin will have to get used to the idea that the reactors will be there for some time, the article says.

 

Der Tagesspiegel

“The human risk factor”

Faked security checks in the Philippsburg nuclear power plant (in Baden-Württemberg) show that people pose a high security threat to the operation of reactors, writes Raimar Paul in Der Tagesspiegel. A member of staff at Philippsburg signed off on security protocols without actually having done the necessary tests. The state government has barred operator EnBW from restarting the reactor until it can prove that the power station can be operated safely and in line with regulations.

Read the article in German here.

Read a CLEW factsheet about the history of the nuclear phase-out in Germany here.

 

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW)

“Wind Electricity Subsidies = Windfall Gains for Land Owners?”

Using the example of German wind power development through feed-in tariffs, researchers at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) have found that 15 to 20 percent of expected wind turbines profits are capitalised into land prices. Roughly 4 percent of overall agricultural income of land owners in 2007 came from wind turbine subsidies, they say.

Read the paper in English here.

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