Volkswagen's new clean image / 'Wind turbines are standing still'

VW / Handelsblatt

“We plan to make electric cars one of Volkswagen’s new hallmarks”

German carmaker Volkswagen wants to be at the forefront of big changes in the auto industry, in spite of financial difficulties, writes Handelsblatt. “We plan to make electric cars one of Volkswagen’s new hallmarks,” said Matthias Müller, chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, at the presentation of the 2015 annual financial statements in Wolfsburg. “The car of the future is more efficient, intelligent, comfortable and safe than ever before. It drives electrically and, in a couple of years, also autonomously.” Volkswagen struggles with extra costs resulting from the emissions scandal. Because of these “exceptional charges” of 16.2 billion euros, VW’s earnings after tax for 2015 were -1.4 billion euros.

Read a press release by Volkswagen in English here.

Read the Handelsblatt article in German here.

 

The Guardian

“VW and Shell try to block EU push for electric cars”

VW and Shell launched a joint study to try to block Europe’s push for electric cars and more efficient cars, saying biofuels should be at the heart of efforts to green the industry instead, writes the Guardian. The paper quotes EU sources as saying that “such a package would involve the end of meaningful new regulatory action on car emissions for more than a decade”. The study "made a series of highly pessimistic assumptions about the costs of fuel efficiency improvements, and equally optimistic ones about greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels," according to the Guardian.

Read the article in English here.

Find the study by Roland Berger in English here.

 

Handelsblatt

“Overexploitation of nature”

Companies should refrain from greenwashing and put more emphasis on genuine environment protection for their own economic good, write Silke Kersting, Martin Murphy and Klaus Stratmann in Handelsblatt. The recent emissions scandal of the auto industry or the mercury emissions by coal power stations – both in spite of pledges by the companies to be greener than ever – showed that “noble objectives and the reality occasionally diverge greatly”, the authors write. But “owners, creditors, investors, insurances, business customers and consumers – everybody is more critical and will ask for information about the company’s dealings concerning climate change”, says Christoph Heinrich, deputy managing director of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Germany.

 

WirtschaftsWoche

“Wind turbines are standing still – and are costing hundreds of millions of euros”

Many wind turbines have to be turned off more and more often because the expansion of the grid cannot keep track with the growth of renewables, writes Christian Schlesiger in the WirtschaftsWoche. The renewable power station operators receive a compensation for these hours and the payments, as well as costs for other grid stabilising measures, are rising. The northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, where eight percent of renewable energy was curtailed, now wants to incentivise industry and power storage facilities as well as heating networks.

Read the article in German here.

Read a CLEW factsheet about re-dispatch measures in the German power grid here.

 

Greentech Media

“As Germany Curtails Wind and Solar, Billion-Euro Grid Projects Help Bring More Green Power On-Line”

Germany is in the process of incorporating renewable power from wind and solar into its electricity grid, writes Jeff St. John on Greentech Media. But while billions of euros are being spent on grid upgrades, curtailment costs for renewables that cannot be fed into the grid are mounting, even though their level isn’t out of line with other countries.

Read the article in English here.

 

Süddeutsche Zeitung

“The last round”

The big four German utilities should pay 23.3 billion euros including a risk surcharge into a state administered nuclear clean-up fund, a government commission has proposed. But the real sum they owe would be a lot higher, writes Michael Bauchmüller in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The 23.3 billion euros is the sum they owed in 2014 - but an interest rate of 4.58 percent would be added annually. If the utilities would have to pay into the fund today, it would already be 1 billion euros more. By 2022 when the fund is supposed to be filled, the interest would add some 7.7 billion euros to the 23.3 figure, Bauchmüller writes. This means the energy companies should have a vested interest in paying up as soon as possible. Unfortunately they are currently caught in economically dire straits, says Bauchmüller.

Read a CLEW article about the commission’s proposal for a nuclear storage fund and reactions to it here.

 

Stuttgarter Zeitung

“EnBW doesn’t pay for shut-down of Fessenheim”

EnBW has escaped the risk of having to pay many millions for the decommissioning of French nuclear power plant Fessenheim in Alsace, Andreas Müller reports in the Stuttgarter Zeitung. EnBW, which used to be involved in the plant during the 1970s, has come to an agreement with French operator EDF that means EnBW has no obligations. Fessenheim is to be taken off the grid in 2016.

 

Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

Consultation process on opening of PV-auctions initiated

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) published the proposed text for the Cross-border Renewable Energy Regulation and initiated the state and association consultation process. From 2017 onwards, five percent of the annually newly installed capacity will be open to facilities in neighbouring EU countries. Facilities can only be supported in countries that in turn open their subsidy systems to German companies. Also, it must be possible to “physically import” the electricity from the individual facilities, according to a press release by the ministry. The regulation is planned to take effect in the second quarter of 2016.

Find the regulation text and a key issues paper in German here.

 

Vattenfall

“Vattenfall’s first quarter 2016: Stable earnings”

Swedish utility Vattenfall’s first quarter earnings improved as a result of increased production and lower costs, according to a press release. With net sales of 5 billion euros and a profit after tax of 720 million euros, the results are better than last year’s first quarter earnings. Vattenfall’s president and CEO Magnus Hall said that the company was shifting steadily towards renewable energy production. “We have set a clear direction in our strategy and our strategic targets, where sustainability is integrated as a natural component. The agreement to sell our lignite operations shows that we are taking strong measures to adapt the portfolio in the right direction,” said Hall.

Find the press release in English here.

 

taz – die tagesszeitung / dpa

“Belgians will receive iodine tablets”

The Belgian government plans to hand out iodine tablets to protect the population from radioactivity in case of an accident at a nuclear power station, the taz reports. The tablets will be given to people living in a radius of 100 km of a nuclear power plant. In a separate statement, German Green Party politician Oliver Krischer said that the plan was showing that the Belgian government had doubts about the security of its nuclear power stations. Handing out iodine was not the solution to the “Russian roulette played with the junk atomic power plants” - turning them off was, Krischer said.
Last week, Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks had asked Belgium to take two of its nuclear reactors off the grid amid security concerns. Belgium refused.

Read the report in German here.

 

Spiegel Online

“Fracking dispute in parliament”

The Green Party, supported by left-leaning Die Linke on Thursday proposed a law to ban fracking in Germany. The bill was voted down in parliament with the votes of the ruling coalition of social democrats and conservative christian democrats. Parliament has so far not agreed to a law proposal by the environment ministry to allow fracking under very strict preconditions either. Green Party politician Julia Verlinden said in a separate statement that 80 percent of voters – even among the christian democrats – were opposed to fracking.

Read the article in German here.

 

Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg

Getting to grips with fluctuating renewables

Scientists in Saxony-Anhalt have developed new methods and technologies that can measure the condition of a power grid in real time. They can also recognise critical situations as well as steer a system that automatically coordinates the necessary counter measures to run a grid with variable power input from renewables.

Read the press release in German here.

 

Fraunhofer IWES

“Manufacturing centre for rotor blades starts operation “

Research institute Fraunhofer IWES and 15 project partners have inaugurated a new advanced manufacturing centre for wind turbine rotor blades in Bremerhaven, where companies can do production-related testing. The target is to produce rotor blades more quickly and with a constant level of precision, to use innovative materials and automation approaches to make the process more efficient and reduce costs.

Read the press release in German here.

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