Germany may shut down eight more coal power plants, document shows, SMH, November 24, 2014 Germany is working on a new law to force energy companies to shut down several more coal-fired power plants as it tries to reach ambitious climate goals, a document seen by Reuters showed on Sunday.
According to a draft legislation prepared by the economy ministry, energy companies will be asked to reduce carbon emissions by at least 22 million tonnes by 2020.
Some 50 facilities already registered for decommission will not count, however, meaning that a further eight coal-fired power stations may be closed down……..
Although Germany has seen a boom in green energy, accounting for about 25 per cent of overall power generation, environmentalists criticise the country for its continued dependence on coal-fired plants, which made up nearly half of power generation last year.
The latest reduction in carbon emissions, if put into effect, would be shared equally between Germany’s power companies, among them major energy firms RWE, E.ON and Vattenfall…….
The latest measure is part of a raft of new climate rules which Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet is expected to decide on Dec. 3. The programme will also include steps to boost energy efficiency.
Merkel’s government wants renewables to make up between 40-45 per cent of power generation by 2025 and 55-60 per cent by 2035 – targets that experts say are ambitious for an industrialised country.
The European Union agreed last month a pledge to cut greenhouse gases by at least 40 per cent in 2030. http://www.smh.com.au/business/carbon-economy/germany-may-shut-down-eight-more-coal-power-plants-document-shows-20141124-11sfdn.html#ixzz3KE3Ddv19
After nuclear phase-out, Germany debates scrapping coal, Yahoo 7 By Mathilde Richter | AFP – Sun, Nov 23, 2014 After deciding to scrap nuclear power, Germany is pondering saying goodbye to coal, its biggest energy source but also its top polluter and main threat to ambitious climate goals.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is split on the issue, which pits a vocal environmental movement against energy giants and coal mining regions, with only weeks until her cabinet is set to present its next climate action plan.
Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks has said that if Europe’s biggest economy doesn’t reduce coal use, it has no chance of meeting its 2020 target of cutting Earth-warming carbon emissions by 40 percent from three decades earlier. Hendricks’ cabinet colleague in charge of the economy and energy, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, sees things differently and has argued that coal is here to stay, citing energy security, cost and many thousands of jobs.
“We can’t simultaneously get out of nuclear and coal,” Gabriel, the leader of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) who co-govern with Merkel’s conservatives, has said.
Merkel decided after Japan’s 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster to shutter all atomic reactors by 2022. By mid-century Germany aims to meet 80 percent of its power needs with renewables such as wind, solar and biogas, which now generate around a quarter.
But an unintended consequence of the “Energiewende”, or energy transition has been a rise in the use of coal, which now generates 46 percent of electricity.
The coal boom in Germany is in part an echo of US shale gas boom.
Cheap natural gas in the United States means coal is being exported to Europe where it undercuts expensive Russian gas, making cleaner and more flexible modern gas plants unprofitable, and several have shut down.
Another factor has been the collapse of the European emissions market, a system meant to factor in the environmental cost of burning fossil fuels. As the penalty for carbon emissions has dropped in price, coal plants have become more lucrative.
- Two birds, one stone -
Environmental pressure groups have campaigned to shut down Germany’s coal plants, and the opposition Greens party, deprived of its signature anti-nuclear crusade, has been at the forefront of the fight, backed by some research institutes………https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/nuclear-phase-germany-debates-scrapping-201640616.html
When the supervisory board of the Jülich research centre meets on 19 November to discuss what to do with the CASTORS there, activists will mount a protest outside.
The activists argue that several expertises show that the thought-about exports of highly radioactive materials to South Carolina would be illegal. They say government plans to produce legality by simply relabeling the commercially operated Jülich reactor an experimental one won’t work.
“The AVR reactor is without a doubt an output reactor and is listed that way by the Federal Agency for Radiation Protection. That brings it under the law changed last summer which bans the export of radioactive fuel elements and requires the safest possible storage in Germany,” suggests Rainer Moormann, who used to work in the power station and the research centre.
Peter Bastian of the SOFA Münster group emphasises the aspect of societal responsibility: “Though the operators of atomic facilities try to shirk their responsibility for highly radioactive waste, exporting the radiating problems abroad is no solution in our view. An out of sight, out of mind strategy that makes innocent third parties suffer is unacceptable for the disposal of our atomic waste.“
Kerstin Ciesla, of BUND, the German section of Friends of the Earth, demands that the coalition parties in the North-Rhine Westphalian state government, Social Democrats and Greens, keep to their coalition agreement. “That stipulates that the CASTORS, especially those stored in Jülich, will be transported only one more time, and that is to a final repository once a location has been found for one. We will not sit back and watch the coalition agreement being broken, we will try to stop this transport with all the means we can muster.”
The catchcry of the anti-nuclear movement, “Nothing in, nothing out!“ is the basic tenet of the new alliance, currently comprising 13 groups, with more likely to come on board.
At the end of September a tour through Germany with Tom Clements, a South Carolina environmental activist and politician, who heads the Savannah River Site Watch, kicked off the joint activism. The alliance plans to build on that success and decided on continuous cooperation.
The following organisations have joined the alliance:
- Aktionsbündnis Münsterland gegen Atomanlagen, www.urantransport.de/uran.html
- AKW-Nee-Aachen, www.anti-akw-ac.de
- Antiatomplenum Köln, www.antiatomkoeln.de
- Anti Atom-Bündnis Niederrhein, www.antiatom-buendnis-niederrhein.de
- Arbeitsgemeinschaft Schacht Konrad / Atommüll-Alarm, www.ag-schacht-konrad.de
- attac Jülich
- .ausgestrahlt, www.ausgestrahlt.de
- Bündnis Stopp Westcastor, www.westcastor.de
- BUND NRW e.V., www.bund-nrw.de
- Montagsspaziergänger gegen Atomkraft Wegberg
- Robin Wood, www.robinwood.de/Energie.energie.0.html
- Sofa Münster, www.sofa-ms.de
- Strahlenzug Mönchengladbach, www.strahlenzug.de
from Diet Simon, 15 Nov 14 Under strict secrecy work began on Tuesday 11 November 2014 on dismantling a radioactively highly polluted German nuclear reactor with a scandalous cover-up history. The “experimental” nuke at Jülichwas shut down in 1988, ten years after serious mishaps which included radioactively polluted water escaping into the ground water. The incident was kept secret, then played down.
The operating company says the deconstruction is not dangerous to the public but experts doubt that claim. The work was to be completed tomorrow, 13 November. Continue reading
Anti-nuclear activists stopped a trainload of ”yellow cake” uranium in Hamburg harbour, Germany, for more than seven hours. The train is taking 15 containers of the ore from Kazakhstan to Malvési in southern France for processing, a frequent run.
While two activists suspended themselves over the railway track, eight were temporarily arrested on the ground. Whatever route the trains take – and the Railways always try to keep that secret – all of them run through densely settled parts of Germany.
Activists usually find out the train runs and are again being alerted to mount protest actions in their areas.
After the processing in southern France, the uranium comes back to Germany as uranium hexafluoride for enrichment in Gronau and later processing into nuclear fuel in Lingen.
“That has nothing to do with getting out of nuclear power,“ activists note, alluding to 2023 when all German nukes are slated to be closed down.
If you understand German, go to Robin Wood for updates.
The activists have demanded that Mayor Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat, close Hamburg harbour to nuclear shipments, as the city of Bremen has done.
From 28-30. November an international meeting to oppose uranium transportation will be held in Münster, hosted by SOFA Münster.
Germany looks to fast-track exit from coal, as well as nuclear http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/germany-looks-dump-coal-well-nuclear-16716 By Giles Parkinson on 5 November 2014 Germany is looking to achieve exactly what Australia says is not possible – and wean one of the world’s largest manufacturing economies off coal – as well as shutting down nuclear.
The conservative government of Chancellor Angela Merkel last week issued a discussion paper proposing to implement the strictest controls on coal fired generation yet to be seen in Europe, and to redesign its energy system around renewables, which will account for around two thirds of supply within two decades.
The discussion paper has been prompted by the need to deal with massive over-capacity in its energy system, and as Germany commits to phasing out the remainder of its nuclear generators by 2022 and sourcing nearly half of its electricity supply from renewables – hydro, biomass, wind and solar – within a decade.
The government discussion paper said too many fossil-fired power plants are in the system and overcapacities “have to be cut” to help meet climate targets. The response is in stark contrast to the situation in Australia, where the conservative government of Tony Abbott is using the argument of “overcapacity” to shut down the pipeline of new renewable energy projetcs, rather than forcing coal to exit the market. Continue reading
Ticking nuclear time bomb up for grabs URANTRANSPORT.De 3 Nov 14 As discretely as possible, the German power companies EON and RWE are trying to sell their holdings in URENCO, the tri-national company that produces weapons-grade uranium. The prominent German newspaper, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, reported that not only respectable potential buyers are lining up to bid and that intelligence services are on alert.
The German URENCO plant is located at Gronau, a small town only a stone’s throw away from the border with the Netherlands. And not far into that country is another URENCO plant at Almelo.
The newspaper incorrectly describes Gronau as “the last bastion of the nuclear industry in Germany”, which it is not. There is also a nuclear fuel plant at Lingen and centrifuge research and development in Jülich, run jointly by a Urenco/Areva subsidiary.
With a world market share of 31% the German-Dutch-British URENCO, which also operates plants in the UK and the USA, is one of the major suppliers of nuclear fuel. Almost unnoticed by the general public, URENCO keeps Germany a major player in nuclear power, which officially is planned to end in the country in 2023.
As the newspaper points out, “URENCO possesses highly sensitive knowledge: the key to the atom bomb“. The one-third-each owners, which apart from the two power companies include the British and Dutch governments, want to sell the firm to investors.Ten billion euros is one figure being mentioned. Bids to be accepted until the end of December.
It’s a scary scenario: “Up for sale is the simplest path to the atom bomb,” suggests Michael Sailer of the Eco-Institute in Darmstadt, an advisor on nuclear matters to the German government.
Finance circles say the list of potential buyers includes firms and hedge funds around the world, in Canada, Japan, Britain, Hong Kong, India and the Middle East. There’s even talk of questionable billionaires and states.
Experts say in Gronau alone enough highly enriched uranium to make a bomb could be produced in a few weeks.
If the state owners give up their controlling majority, it will get ever harder to protect the technology against unpermitted access, notes Sailer. “I find it irresposnible to leave a technology with such destructive power to the market.“
The Sueddeutsche Zeitung says secret documents from the Netherlands make clear how far plans to sell up are advanced in London and The Hague.
German parliamentarians have been told by the government that intelligence services have been brought in to study potential buyers. The same is said to be happening in Britain and The Netherlands.
“Every transfer of knowledge of uranium enrichment technology also increases the knowledge of atomic weapon technology,“ warns Sylvia Kotting-Uhl of the German Greens, and calls on the German government to veto the sale.
“We demand the immediate closure of the Gronau uranium enrichment plant,“ writes a group of activists in Muenster, which is close to Gronau, as well as centrifuge research and development in Jülich, run jointly by a Urenco/Areva subsidiary, ETC.
The Aktionsbündnis Münsterland gegen Atomanlagen (SOFA) will host an international uranium transportation conference from 28-30. November in Münster.
“……..Last year, renewables accounted for 24 per cent of the country’s electricity.The German government introduced generous subsidies to kick-start the sector, amounting to 16 billion euros last year. But the government claims the program has already saved billions in fuel costs for the heavily import-reliant country.
“We have created new businesses worth 40 billion euros per year,” Ecologic Institute analyst Andreas Kraemer said.”We have created additional employment for up to 400,000 people. They all pay taxes, they all pay social security charges.”
German households and small business pay the largest share for the renewable turnaround.They pay around 29 euro cents per kilowatt hour and much of that goes towards a renewable energy surcharge.
Big industrial users are exempt from the surcharge and pay just 3.5 cents per kilowatt hour……..
A new-look energy market The energy turnaround has clouded the future for the dominant utility companies in Germany.Germany’s big four, Vattenfall, E.on, RWE and EnBW, have enjoyed an oligopoly driven by nuclear power and fossil fuels………
Investors look for exposure to renewables market The makeup of the German energy market already looks very different, with hundreds of companies and cooperatives being formed in a decentralised industry.
While banks, industry, and project developers own 40 per cent of renewable installations, farmers and private investors own half.A number of new investment vehicles have formed to take advantage of the new industry. Crowd funding start up Bettervest has financed 14 projects since its inception a year ago.
Company spokesman Julien Schroder-Gianoncelli said investors are attracted by the projects and the returns,\. “We are offering 5-10 per cent in interest, which is pretty good at the moment,” he said.
Ceramic Fuel Cells believes Germany’s regulations, incentives and market make it the place to be. Mr Obernitz said that, for the time being at least, there are no incentives available in Australia.
“I’m not sure if that is going to change,” he said.
“We would favour that because we have invented the technology in Australia, and it’s something that will change the world.”……… https://au.news.yahoo.com/vic/a/25372077/germanys-renewable-energy-incentives-and-regulations-attracting-australian-companies/
Where Shall We Store Our Radioactive Waste? Red Baron’s Blog, 18 Oct 14, From September 20 to 22, 2014 the Deutsch-Schweizer Fachverband für Strahlenschutz (Swiss-German Radiation Protection Association) held a symposium in Mainz dealing with the topic: Zwischenlager – Dauerlager – Endlager: Wohin mit unserem radioaktiven Abfall? (Intermediate, permanent and final storage: Where shall we store our radioactive waste?)
The Federal Government has set up a commission of 33 persons to deal with the deposition of highly-radioactive waste according to the Standortauswahlgesetz(Law for selecting a site). The German government called scientists, members of environmental associations, representatives of the Churches!!, economy, trade unions, members of parliament and state governments into the commission to find a consensus on a site until December 31, 2015. In their initial sessions the members of the commission lost their time on points of order; so I doubt that they will meet the deadline set by the government…….http://mhoefert.blogspot.com.au/
Germany: Exiting coal-fired energy at same time as nuclear impossible http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/383277/economy/business/germany-exiting-coal-fired-energy-at-same-time-as-nuclear-impossible October 12, 2014 BERLIN – Germany dismissed on Sunday a report suggesting it planned to exit coal-fired power generation in order to protect the climate, saying this would impose too great a burden on industry as the country is also phasing out nuclear energy.
Der Spiegel weekly said Economy and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel was planning a medium-term exit from coal due to environmental concerns. Its report cited no sources.
“For a country like Germany with a strong industrial base, exiting nuclear and coal-fired power generation at the same time would not be possible,” a spokeswoman for his ministry said in an emailed statement.
Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is currently going through an “Energiewende”, an energy shift which moves the country towards renewable sources following a decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government wants renewable energies to make up 40-45 percent of German energy consumption by 2025 and 55-60 percent by 2035. The Spiegel report said the government wanted to remove 10 gigawatts of coal-fired power generation, equivalent to around two dozen small power plants, from the network.
The ministry spokeswoman said it was first and foremost for the operators to decide which plants to shut down and they must then apply for approval to the federal network agency.
“It’s clear, though, that the conventional generation system must adapt to the needs of the Energiewende,” she added.
Coal-fired power accounted for around 45 percent of German power generation in 2013. — Reuters
Germany kicks our butts, again, at clean energy Grist, By Liz Core 2 Oct 2014 Germany has hit a new clean energy milestone: So far this year, the country has gotten more electricity from renewables than from any other single source, 27.7 percent. That (just barely) beats the 26.3 percent of power generated by lignite coal, according to Agora research organization.
“This is a real success and watershed moment,” said Famke Krumbmuller, an analyst at Eurasia Group.
Wind accounted for 9.5 percent of the power fed into the country’s grid in the first nine months of 2014, biomass for 8.1, solar for 6.8 percent, and hydropower for less than 4 percent.
Last year, Germany got 24.1 percent of its electricity from renewables, so it’s up more than 3 percent. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is aiming to get as much as 60 percent of the nation’s electricity from clean sources by 2035, even while phasing out nuclear power by 2022. (If you’re still looking for a star quarterback for your climate hawk fantasy league, Merkel is looking like she might be ace at pummeling her way to a climate goal.)
The U.S., by contrast, got just 6 percent of its electricity from wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal last year, and other 7 percent from hydro……http://grist.org/list/germany-kicks-our-butts-again-at-clean-energy/
Radioactive Boars From Chernobyl Are Still Wandering Around Germany, Sarah Zhang, http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2014/09/radioactive-boars-from-chernobyl-are-still-wandering-around-germany/4 Sept 14 Nearly 30 years later, radiation from Chernobyl still scars the landscape. Perhaps most remarkably, some of that radiation travelled hundreds of kilometres downwind, settled into the soil, and moved up through the food chain. So now we have radioactive wild boars, still roaming around Germany causing trouble.
Since 2012, according to the Telegraph, the state government of Saxony has required that boars hunted for food be tested for radiation. One in three regularly exceeds the safety limit. How did wild boars born decades after the Chernobyl disaster become radioactive? The Telegraph explains:
Even though Saxony lies some 700 miles from Chernobyl, wind and rain carried the radioactivity across western Europe, and soil contamination was found even further away, in France.
Wild boar are thought to be particularly affected because they root through the soil for food, and feed on mushrooms and underground truffles that store radiation. Many mushrooms from the affected areas are also believed to be unfit for human consumption.
Wild radioactive boars may be dangerous to eat, but wild boars in general are a menace across Germany. They’re digging up gardens, shutting down the Autobahn, and even attacking the occasional poor soul. Read more about the boars at the Telegraph.
Renewable energy share reaches record high in Germany, PV Magazine 31. JULY 2014 New installations coupled with favorable climatic conditions helped boost the share of renewables to a record 28.5% in the first half of 2014. The share of renewable energy in gross domestic energy consumption is expected to rise to a record high of 28.5% in the first half of 2014, according to a preliminary survey by the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW).
The construction of new renewable installations coupled with favorable climatic conditions helped boost the share of renewables to record levels by mid-year. In the first half of 2013, the renewables share of gross domestic energy consumption was at 24.6%.
Producing 18.3 billion kilowatt hours, photovoltaic power generation increased by 27.3%, while wind grew by 21.4% to 31 billion kilowatt hours. Biomass energy generation increased 5.2% to 22 billion kilowatt hours in the period……..
Energy generation by conventional plants on decline
The production by conventional power plants is declining significantly, BDEW reported……..
Gas and electricity consumption saw a general decline in the period: Natural gas consumption amounted to 445.7 billion kilowatt hours, down some 20% from 555.5 billion. The BDEW attributed the drop to significantly warmer weather in 2014, which lowered overall heating demand, especially compared to the very cold first half of 2013. A decline in production in Germany’s chemical industry likewise contributed to lower gas use. Adjusted for temperature, natural gas consumption still fell nearly 7%.
Electricity consumption in the period dropped 5% to 268 billion kilowatt hours, down from 282 billion a year ago, due mainly to the mild weather.
German green energy law clears final hurdle http://af.reuters.com/article/commoditiesNews/idAFL6N0PM3KB20140711?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0 FRANKFURT, July 11 (Reuters) – Germany’s upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, approved on Friday revamped legislation on funding renewable energy, clearing the way for the law to come into force on Aug. 1.
The far-reaching law, which seeks to cap support payments for renewables without jeopardising the country’s shift towards a low carbon economy, had hung in the balance, after months of negotiations, due to wrangling with European Union authorities over its compatibility with state aid guidelines.
But Brussels granted its consent this week, providing encouragement to the Bundesrat, which represents Germany’s 16 states, to vote through the reform package to the renewable energy act (EEG) in its Friday session.
“Germany has embarked on a long project to derive the energy supply of an industrial nation from renewable energy sources, which is historically without parallel,” Stefan Wenzel, environment minister of the state of Lower Saxony, told the Bundesrat.
Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, approved the reform package two weeks ago. On Wednesday, European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said Berlin had allayed concerns that German industry might receive unfair advantages through exemptions from obligatory payments towards the cost of funding green energy. He also said Germany had cleared up two other remaining issues – the need to bring foreign renewable power into planned auctions for green energy from 2017 and to change the system of allowing industrial companies, which produce their own power, full discounts on the EEG after that date.
In 2011 Germany embarked on a strategy to accelerate its exit from nuclear energy in light of Japan’s Fukushima crisis, stepping up its renewables expansion and lowering its dependence on power stations that run on gas and coal.
Green energy from sources such as wind or sunshine has already reached a share of 25 percent of Germany’s power mix and is meant to reach 45 percent by 2025 and 60 percent by 2035.
The EEG reform is aimed at lowering the cost of green energy funding for consumers, among a number of other elements that will be introduced in future, including compensation of conventional producers for loss of market share. (Reporting by Markus Wacket and Vera Eckert; Editing by Gareth Jones)
In short, German policy gave renewables fair access to the grid, promoted competition, weakened monopolies, and helped citizens and communities own half of renewable capacity. In 2013, Germany’s nuclear generation reached a 30-year low while renewable generation, 56% greater, set a new record, reaching an average of 27% of domestic use in the first quarter of 2014 and a brief peak of 74% on 11 May.
How Opposite Energy Policies Turned The Fukushima Disaster Into A Loss For Japan And A Win For
Germany Forbes, Amory B Lovins 28 June 14 Japan thinks of itself as famously poor in energy, but this national identity rests on a semantic confusion. Japan is indeed poor in fossil fuels—but among all major industrial countries, it’s the richest in renewableenergy like sun, wind, and geothermal. For example, Japan has nine times Germany’s renewable energy resources. Yet Japan makes about nine times less of its electricity from renewables (excluding hydropower) than Germany does.
That’s not because Japan has inferior engineers or weaker industries, but only because Japan’s government allows its powerful allies—regional utility monopolies—to protect their profits by blocking competitors. Since there’s no mandatory wholesale power market, only about 1% of power is traded, and utilities own almost all the wires and power plants and hence can decide whom they will allow to compete against their own assets, the vibrant independent power sector has only a 2.3% market share; under real competition it would take most of the rest. These conditions have caused an extraordinary divergence between Japan’s and Germany’s electricity outcomes. Continue reading
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