Germany slows pace of green energy transition

Germany is phasing out nuclear power by 2022
Germany is phasing out nuclear power by 2022

Germany on Wednesday moved to slow the rapid growth of subsidised renewable energy to cap rising costs, drawing fire from environmentalists who charged it is betraying its ambitious climate goals.

To boost competition in the sector, wind and solar projects will from next year be put out to tender, rather than automatically launched with generous state subsidies and guaranteed returns.

Under its energy transition plan, Europe's top economy is phasing out nuclear power by 2022 and reducing climate-harming carbon fuels while boosting clean energy sources to meet 80 percent of power needs by 2050.

State support has helped raise the share of wind, solar and other renewables to about one third of electricity production last year.

But those subsidies are financed by households and many companies as they are largely passed on as surcharges on power bills.

Big power companies including EON, REW and Vattenfall have meanwhile suffered as the price of wholesale electricity has plummeted amid the surge in green energy output, making many conventional plants unprofitable.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government hailed its reforms as a "" to make the energy transition more economically viable, but environmentalists charged it torpedoes Germany's ambitious clean energy and climate goals.

Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the German Association of Energy and Water Industries in Berlin, on June 8, 2016
Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the German Association of Energy and Water Industries in Berlin, on June 8, 2016

'Halve pace of expansion'

The latest reforms—which Merkel agreed in marathon talks last week with her coalition partners and the 16 state governments—are aimed at slowing the growth of on-shore wind farms in particular.

Wind towers have mushroomed across the coastal north and outpaced the construction of high-power transmission lines to industrial centres in the country's south.

Merkel's government also agreed to a plan by her Bavarian allies to expand state subsidies for biomass plants, an energy source favoured by farmers in the south.

The changes are set to take effect at the start of next year, pending approval by parliament where Merkel's coalition has a crushing majority.

Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel of the centre-left Social Democrats said the cabinet agreement readied Germany for a "paradigm shift in supporting ".

Germany is aiming for clean energy sources to meet 80 percent of its power needs by 2050
Germany is aiming for clean energy sources to meet 80 percent of its power needs by 2050

Old, new energy

Gabriel, who is also economy minister, said it was key to "synchronise" the expansion of renewables rather than follow a motto of "the more, the better", to ensure the electricity generated ends up where it is needed.

He insisted the goal was still for renewables to make up 40-45 percent of Germany's energy mix by 2025, and 55-60 percent by 2035.

The opposition Greens party—historically the driving force behind Germany's nuclear exit and clean energy revolution—sharply criticised the changes.

"By putting the brakes on renewable energy, the government is imperilling a central future project of our country," said its chairwoman Simone Peter.

Greenpeace said the change to a more market-based approach favours large corporate players at the expense of the many small projects that have so far driven the energy transition.

Germany's energy giants have been struggling to adapt to the energy transition, with E.ON splitting into "old" and &qu
Germany's energy giants have been struggling to adapt to the energy transition, with E.ON splitting into "old" and "new" energy companies

Rather than work determinedly to boost clean energy and meet German climate obligations, "Gabriel is threatening to halve the pace of expansion of recent years," said the group's energy expert Tobias Austrup.

Despite its gains in green energy, Germany also relies heavily on dirty coal—a politically sensitive sector because of the tens of thousands of jobs it generates—which accounts for 40 percent of electricity production.

Germany's energy giants have been struggling to adapt to the , with two of them, EON and RWE, deciding to split up into "old" and "new" energy companies.

Shareholders of market leader EON were expected to sign off Wednesday on dividing the company into a clean firm under the same name, and a spin-off called Uniper to run its conventional gas, coal and hydropower interests.


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Germany eyes swift cuts in renewable energy subsidies

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Jun 08, 2016
There will be many tacks on the course to renewables. Each society has to find the best way to proceed in their own situations, as long as the destination is the same.

Even I would rather see them slow down the retirement of the better nuclear plants and close down more coal.

Jun 08, 2016
"Greenpeace said the change .."
Greenpeace should be more concerned about protecting wildlife's habitats and start campaigns to phase out these pseudo-eco-friendly bird-choppers/landscape-destroyers wind/solar farms backed by coal and other fossil fuels to compensate intermittency. Unhappily Greenpeace seems to be just a bunch of pseudo-environmentalists driven by the "green money" and other vested political/ideological interests.

Jun 08, 2016
"Greenpeace said the change .."
Greenpeace should be more concerned about protecting wildlife's habitats and start campaigns to phase out these pseudo-eco-friendly bird-choppers/landscape-destroyers wind/solar farms backed by coal and other fossil fuels to compensate intermittency. Unhappily Greenpeace seems to be just a bunch of pseudo-environmentalists driven by the "green money" and other vested political/ideological interests.


If they backed something like Windsheers' INVELOX design, it would prevent the vast majority of bird and bat deaths that occur yearly from wind farms.

Jun 09, 2016
There will be many tacks on the course to renewables. Each society has to find the best way to proceed in their own situations, as long as the destination is the same.

Even I would rather see them slow down the retirement of the better nuclear plants and close down more coal.


If even YOU would rather....well, what you said, shit is getting serious indeed.
France can provide Germany some nuclear energy anyway, until things go stable.

Jun 09, 2016
Gkam,

It is time for you to swallow your pride and admit you are wrong. Wind and solar power are dog's breath. Third rate technologies that will not save mankind from global warming. A CO2 tax is the way forward - not government choosing technologies.

Jun 09, 2016
Wind and solar power are dog's breath. Third rate technologies that will not save mankind from global warming.


Hey now, they're very good source of energy, very plentiful and reasonably cheap.

The problem is the subsidies and the lack of investment in supporting technology to make use of the energy. The past two decades of hysterical panic and industry lobbying has just put us in a situation where all the advanced countries are allocating extraordinary amounts of resources on renewable energy systems that can't work without being perpetually state subsidized at many times their actual value, which breaks the grids and grid market mechanisms.

A complete re-structuring is needed to go forward, because the subsidy schemes were not set in place to enable renewable power, but to make the renewable industry and the politicians supporting them a lot of money. All of the money went into erecting more windmills, and none of it went into figuring out what to do with them.


Jun 09, 2016
A CO2 tax is the way forward - not government choosing technologies.


A CO2 tax is shooting yourself in the foot, because it is "government choosing technologies", and it's hurting your ability to develop other technologies by making it more expensive to use energy. Suddenly a wind turbine or a nuclear reactor too starts to cost more money to make, and the tax will be vain because the cost of the tax is rolled into all the products made with the energy - since you can't actually avoid emitting CO2 in producing steel, concrete, glass... etc.

And when a government starts to tax things, it starts to spend the money on things, and it becomes addicted to tax, and subsequent governments then become reluctant on actually doing anything about the CO2 problem because they would lose tax revenue. It becomes just another state cash cow.

If you want something to never go away, tax it.

Jun 09, 2016
It has already been pointed out to you that in the U.S. - the subsidies are being phased out.


They've been "phased out" multiple times. Every time the subsidy programs end, or threaten to end, the lobby groups with the government whip up a new one that's bigger than before, and that's just on the federal level. There are literally thousands of different state subsidies and incentives for solar and wind power that come and go, which makes it a bit difficult to track how much is actually being paid for it.

See graph: http://dqbasmyouz...-ITC.jpg

Every time the PTC gets extended, the industry rushes to build, every time the PTC expires, the industry rushes to lobby a new extension.

My money is on the cost curve for renewables continuing down

They have to, because of the external costs of using renewable power. That's why the spot prices for wind/solar power regularily dip into the negative in Europe.

Jun 09, 2016
There are also plenty of examples of unsubsidized renewables around the world coming in dirt cheap. One example - http://electrek.c...0299kwh/ There are plenty more.


Yes, and while we're at it, might we also talk about the cost of geothermal power in Iceland, the cost of sand in Sahara, and the cost of tea in China?

You can't talk about the unsubsidized cost of nukes can you? http://www.iisd.o...at-cost/


The reason why the Brits are paying such exorbitant sums is because Hinkley Point C is being built by.... guess who? Areva.

They're offloading the cost overruns of their failed projects in Finland and Flamanville onto the UK, and UK is in such a dire need for dependable power that they're willing to pay.

Jun 09, 2016
Areva has so far bungled up three nucler power stations by sub-sub-sub-sub contracting the work to companies and workers that have no business being in the business, which ended up them re-designing and often re-building and re-certifying everything multiple times with massive delays.

The company is in lawsuits up their ears, and they're now being bailed out by the French state which owns EDF, who is in the deal with the British government over the Hinkley Point reactor and demanding £95/MWh guaranteed prices to offset the losses from Arevas incompetence to build it in the first place. They're also suing the Finnish government for money because the Finns are refusing to pay more than the €3.5 billion in the original deal while the real costs have run up to €9 billion.

The farce has gone on to the point that the Finns dropped their option for a second EPR and instead started negotiations with the Russians for their next new reactor.

Jun 09, 2016
The other thing about the UK is that they have expensive electricity in the first place. For example, the strike price for new hydroelectric power in the UK is £100/MWh and off-shore wind power at £115/MWh at 2015 prices. Mind you, this is not LCOE but what you need to pay for a company to pick the project up and build it.

It's a small island with a tiny grid and not a lot of options.

So crying about the price of nuclear power in the UK is like going to a Starbucks in Switzerland and crying about the price of coffee.


Jun 09, 2016
" That's why the spot prices for wind/solar power regularily dip into the negative in Europe."
------------------------------------

It is the result of piss-poor European planning, but why are you griping about free power?

Jun 09, 2016
Unless something big changes - they are toast.
"The case for nuclear power rests on its unmatched capacity to provide energy that is dependable, affordable and, above all, clean."
"One problem for nuclear is the extraordinarily low wholesale price of electricity -- held down for now by cheap, abundant natural gas, and intermittently pulled lower when wind power floods the grid."
"Unloved and underappreciated, America's nuclear reactors supply almost two-thirds of the country's low-carbon energy -- reliably and without harm to human health or the earth's atmosphere. Nuclear is the biggest, sturdiest force against climate change there is."
http://www.bloomb...e-people

Jun 10, 2016
Why are renewables kicking nuclear's arse?
Oh Yeah renewables now include natural gas, fracking, wind/solar landscape-destroyers, oil and coal; nature devastators group is now complete.

The "renewables" term is very dynamic; for example, it can include or exclude hydropower to show more exciting results, now it seems to include natural gas/fracking and even coal as in Germany.
"renewables (excluding large hydro) accounted for more than half of new power generation capacity for the first time last year.Including large hydro, renewables' share of all global electricity generation rose to more than 20%."

Jun 10, 2016
Argue all you want Willie. Copy and paste away.

You already lost.

Jun 10, 2016
You already lost.
and natural gas/fracking, not renewables, wins in the real world. LOL. oil and coal barons are dying from laughter while investing in more fracking thanks to pseudo-environmentalists.

Jun 10, 2016
..bankruptcies in the oil and gas business. Maybe you could spend more time understanding the world you live in. http://marcellusd...0152016/
"Since that time more have fallen to low commodity prices for oil and gas. There are now 59 drillers who have declared bankruptcy–42 last year and (so far) 17 in 2016."
Maybe because people are buying wind/solar-powered vehicles manufactured in "off-the-grid" wind/solar-powered factories; oh yeah bankruptcies have nothing to do with natural gas/fracking.

Oh no!!! "Troubled Solar, Wind Energy Giant SunEdison Inc. (SUNE) Files For Bankruptcy Protection" - 04/21/16
http://www.reuter...CN0XI1TC
http://www.ibtime...-2357359
http://www.powerm...mpanies/
They should ask more subsidies.

Jun 11, 2016
- wind and solar are still kicking their ass. So oil and gas companies are going bankrupt.
Oh yeah the very profitable, not subsidized, intermittent unicorn fart energy is phasing out fossil fuels.
"United States domestic production has nearly doubled over the last several years, pushing out oil imports that need to find another home."
"..the producers are forced to drop prices"
"..vehicles are becoming more energy-efficient. So demand for fuel is lagging a bit, although there are signs that demand is growing in the United States. .." oh yeah wind/solar-powered vehicles
http://www.nytime...tml?_r=0
http://www.cbsnew...uzzlers/
http://www.thever...ute-2016

Jun 11, 2016
I just returned to Canada from a three week fact finding mission in Germany. One would think that the ubiquitous electric train system that is most active in daylight hours would be a good match for wind and PV solar because these alternative energy systems produce most or all their electricity when most needed by the electric train system. But there was virtually no wind and heavy overcast almost every day I was there. Hydro-electricity is rare because the land is so flat and the established river vessel operators etc. would be furious. The Rhine is even used to move hydrocarbons versus pipelines.

IMHO - based on a 35+ year career as an electrical engineer which included wind, solar, hydro, nuclear and even methane extraction from landfill sites for Canada's NRC under Canmet, it is my opinion that the politicians and mainstream news media provides too much press for the scientifically challenged agencies such as Greenpeace which no longer employs any scientists, engineers or techs.

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