19 Apr 2016
Sören Amelang Kerstine Appunn Julian Wettengel

Vattenfall sale a lose-lose-lose? / 'EU ETS needs minimum price'

A “lose-lose-lose” situation

The Vattenfall lignite sale to EPH is a lose for the climate, a lose for the Swedish government and a lose for German workers, according to analysis by UK non-profit group sandbag. EPH is a faceless and aggressive investor unlikely to implement the just coal phase-out that Vattenfall could have managed, writes Dave Jones. “EPH have no public shareholders to be responsible to, no electricity customers to be responsible to, and no ownership from regional or national government to be responsible to… EPH ownership leaves Lusatia's lignite industry in a precarious position, with the possibility of collapse at any time, with devastating consequences to the local community."

Read the analysis in English here.

Read yesterday’s CLEW article on the sale of Vattenfall’s lignite assets here.


Süddeutsche Zeitung

“Digging for coal”

Vattenfall lignite buyer EPH believes Germany will continue to rely on lignite despite its Energiewende. “It’s the only fuel that can produce electricity reliably and doesn’t need to be imported. This is why it won’t be easy to replace it in the energy mix,” EPH board member Jan Springl told Süddeutsche Zeitung. He added that EPH had no intention of exporting lignite to the Czech Republic.
The deal is highly sensitive because decommissioning and recultivation costs are highly uncertain, write Michael Bauchmüller and Varinia Bernau in the same article. With Vattenfall to transfer 1.7 billion euros to the new owner, “its farewell from Lusatia comes at a high price.” How much money EPH can make with the lignite assets mainly depends on how long it will be allowed to dig for coal, and when low power prices will start to recover, the article says.

Read the article in German here.


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“Lignite in trouble”

Czech utility EPH must be fully aware that lignite has a maximum life expectancy of 20 years if the government takes its climate targets seriously, writes Andreas Mihm in a commentary for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The sale does not solve the structural and employment problems of the affected region – they remain unchanged under a new owner, according to Mihm.


Frankfurter Rundschau

“Energy policy as a gamble”

The Vattenfall deal shows the government must urgently work on a consensus to phase out coal, argues Thorsten Knuf in Frankfurter Rundschau. The affected region and employees have become a pawn in the EPH gamble that it can earn money with coal-fired power generation because of the nuclear phase-out, according to Knuf.  



“A sale with consequences”

EPH must be aware it has taken on a massive responsibility, because it will have to spend billions managing the lignite exit in coming decades, writes Jürgen Flauger in a commentary for Handelsblatt. If EPH has bet on the wrong horse, taxpayers might end up footing the bill. “The sale of east German lignite is no ordinary deal. EPH must not forget that.”



“EU ETS will need tweaking after climate treaty”

Researchers from Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) in Berlin have recommended a minimum price for the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) to give investors more certainty. In a new study they have shown that the price of emissions in the EU ETS is governed by political announcements rather than supply and demand. That leaves traders to guess what might happen next because of a lack of clear policy, Ottmar Edenhofer from the MCC explained.

Read the the study in English (behind paywall) here and a press release here.


Süddeutsche Zeitung

“RWE: the green conscience”

RWE’s management will face a tough crowd at tomorrow’s annual shareholders’ meeting, reports Süddeutsche Zeitung. The surge of renewables that led to lower power prices at the electricity exchange has brought about a very “threatening” situation for the utility. RWE spun off its fossil power operations from renewables, grid and retail operations and earlier this year decided to suspend dividend payments for the first time in 50 years – an extreme measure that puts shareholders who counted on the extra capital in difficult situations.

Read the article in German here.

Find the CLEW factsheet on RWE’s plans for new renewable subsidiary here.



“Environment ministry supports China in emissions trade“

The German Federal Environment Agency (BMUB) is investing 5.5 million euros in support for China's national emissions trading system, according to a press release. “Emissions trading offers big opportunities to reach climate goals at a low cost,” said environment minister Barbara Hendricks during a trip to Shanghai. The funding program has been active since 2013 and focuses on legal counselling and staff training. China is currently running a pilot scheme in seven regions and plans to introduce the world’s largest emissions trading system - with a volume of about 4 billion tonnes of CO₂ - by 2017.

Find the press release in German here.


Süddeutsche Zeitung

“Jointly for electric cars”

Siemens and the French automotive supplier Valeo are planning a joint venture on drive systems for electric cars, reports Süddeutsche Zeitung. The enterprise will offer high voltage components and systems for all types of e-cars, including hybrids, plug-ins and pure electric vehicles.

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