A world of solar power and batteries / Vattenfall phases out 1GW of lignite
3rd quarter results / Two 500 MW lignite units will be transferred into new reserve
Swedish utility Vattenfall increased its underlying operating profit to 3,388 million SEK, compared to 2,750 million SEK a year ago, in the third quarter of 2015, the company said. Compared to the first nine months of 2014, the underlying operating profit dropped from 15,911 million SEK to 14,092 million SEK in 2015. Magnus Hall, president and CEO of Vattenfall, said the company managed to improve its cash flow and lower its debt. But the operating profit for the nine-month period was also charged with impairment losses, amounting to 40.7 billion SEK. Conditions were challenging, particularly in the Nordic countries due to considerable capacity surplus and low electricity prices, the Vattenfall statement reads. The process of finding new owners for the German lignite assets was on track, the company said.
In a separate statement, Vattenfall announced that it will transfer the units E (in 2019) and F (in 2018) - with a combined capacity of 1,000 megawatt - at the Jänschwalde lignite power station into the new emergency standby reserve for four years and shut them afterwards. Vattenfall operates a total of 8,000 megawatt lignite capacity in eastern Germany. The move will not lead to any job losses, the company said.
“German accord: it will take a lot more to get lignite out of Germany, let alone Europe“
The agreement between the energy ministry and brown coal power plant operators to phase-out 2.7 gigawatts of lignite capacity will not be enough to wean Germany off the form of fossil energy, writes Hamburg-based US energy expert Jeffrey Michel in energypost. Electricity from lignite is far too profitable compared to renewables and gas-fired power generation to go away any time soon, he writes. And Vattenfall’s possible sale of its lignite operations to competitor Mibrag could prolong brown coal usage in Germany, Michel adds. Other European countries are even more dependent on lignite than Germany, he says.
Read the article in English here.
“Appeal from Lusatia”
Twenty-one towns and councils in the eastern German brown coal mining region of Lusatia have send a letter of complaint to Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying that the federal government’s energy policy of shutting down lignite power plants was harming the future of the area, the Sächsische Zeitung reports. Brown coal mining and electricity production are at the heart of the industrial and economic basis of Lusatia and a socially acceptable structural change would not work without lignite, the letter reads. The states of Saxony and Brandenburg, as well as the federal government, should help to finance the changes in the local economy, the signatories demand.
German Association of Local Utilities
Municipal companies invest 5.08 billion euros into energy production
Municipal companies have invested 5.08 billion euros in energy production facilities in 2014 - a rise of 4.3 percent compared to 2013, new figures from the German Association of Local Utilities (VKU) show. However, investment was at 8.6 billion euros in 2011. Local utilities have a market share of 12.3 percent in Germany’s installed net capacity of 194.2 gigawatt, the VKU said. Decreasing investment by municipal companies since 2011 was down to a lack of clear government policy regarding combined heat and power and the power market design, VKU managing director Katherina Reiche said in a press release. Local utilities were investing more into renewables, Reiche said. The share of renewables in the municipal companies had increased from 13.5 percent in 2013 to 15.6 percent in 2014.
Read the press release in German here.
“Let the world of 150 gigawatt solar power capacity in Germany come”
The German power system could cope with four times the amount of solar power plants as long as there is also enough battery storage, think-tank Agora Energiewende* said. Politicians and energy companies should prepare for a scenario with large amounts of solar-powered battery systems as prices for photovoltaics (PV) and battery storage systems are projected to fall considerably, Agora Eneriewende suggests in a new background paper.
Germany had a PV capacity of 38.5 gigawatt (1.5 million PV facilities) installed in 2014.
Download the paper in German here.
“Germany approaches battery storage boom”
Some 37 percent of Germans think it is likely that their home in 2030 will itself generate part of the electricity that is needed by its inhabitants. And 31 percent believe that the home-produced power will be stored in a battery, a representative survey among 2,000 people by YouGov found. WWF and power provider Lichtblick, who commissioned the poll, said this showed that Germans were ready to invest into photovoltaics, battery storage and e-cars - and the government now has to make sure that this potential was harvested. Wind and solar power, together with batteries, could furthermore be used in virtual power stations and thus increase security of supply.
Read the press release in German here.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
“’Explosion’ in energy storage”
Engineers at Thyssen-Krupp Industrial Solutions are convinced that power storage, even for large amounts of volatile renewable electricity, will be possible in the near future, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. Thyssen-Krupp will start operating a large redox-flow battery next year and a demonstration facility for hydrogen-electrolysis the year after. The storage devices will be able to store more power at much lower costs thanks to very large cell surfaces, the article says.
US experts’ views on Germany’s Energiewende
The HuffPost Green has compiled the views of four US energy experts on Germany’s attempt to switch from fossil fuels to renewables, a process known as the Energiewende. “Germany's Energiewende has proven to be an effective example of how to start and accelerate a transition. The key test will be to determine whether such a transition can be completed,” writes Mark Z Jacobson, from Stanford University.
Read the article in English here.
Road to Paris - COP21
PIK / University of Melbourne
“If a major economy takes the lead, warming could be limited to 2°C”
Effectively limiting climate change to under 2°C is possible if a major economy acts as a forerunner to escape the climate gridlock, scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the University of Melbourne say. “If either the European Union or the US would pioneer and set a benchmark for climate action by others, the negotiation log-jam about fair burden sharing could be broken,“ lead author Malte Meinshausen from PIK said. The leading economy would have to approximately double its current domestic 2030 emissions reductions targets, while other countries would be following the emissions allocation scheme most favourable to them.
Read the press release in English here.
Read the research paper in Nature Climate Change (behind pay-wall) here.
*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.