The European Union is beginning to question Germany’s energy revolution wrote Der Spiegel.
“As part of Germany’s switch to renewables, industry has been exempt from paying higher prices associated with solar and wind energy. The European Commission, however, believes the practice distorts competition on the Continent. Huge penalties could be in store.”
Competitors and neighboring countries have filed an official complaint with the EU about these “unfair benefits” prompting the EU competition authority to launch an investigation.The EU has concerns that Germany’s price concessions for energy-intensive companies in Germany amount to an inadmissible subsidy and will distort competition and obstruct trade in the Community. In the best-case scenario, the Commission would simply ban such subsidies. But in the worst case Brussels could demand that German companies pay back the money they had saved as a result of the discounts they have received. This would amount to several billion euros and the competitiveness of entire German industrial sectors would be put at risk. Not only do the giant energy companies get the subsidies but loopholes in Germany’s green energy legislation has allowed thousands of other large companies to get a subsidy as well. As a result the entire cost of Germany’s green energy revolution (subsidies to wind and solar companies, the cost of electrical distribution and storage facilities, and grid expansion) is being born by consumers and small business to the tune of perhaps $1 trillion euros. In an election year this is dividing the country between those who benefit and those who pay for the transition from nuclear to wind and solar. See also BBC, Who pays for the greening of Germany? and The Economist, Germany’s national energy project is becoming a cause for disunion
OILPRICE told us about the UK’s looming energy crisis. UK households and businesses face electricity blackouts in just a few years according to two of the country’s leading energy experts – Alistair Buchanan outgoing chief executive of energy watchdog Ofgem and Professor Ian Fells, emeritus professor of energy at Newcastle University. They say the UK is facing an uncomfortable squeeze in energy reserves over the next three years as aging coal-power plants are closed to meet EU imposed environmental targets, and the country is forced to import natural gas at a time of tightening worldwide supply. Half of the coal plants face closure by 2015, and possibly all by 2020. Buchanan said that within three years, the reserve margin of UK electric power generation will fall from around 15% to below 5%.
“The situation is really quite serious. We will have to keep our coal-fired power stations open and get fined by the EU,” says Professor Fells…”By 2015 we will be vulnerable. For the last four years the Government has been sitting on its hands doing nothing, and this is really unacceptable.”
Another energy expert, Janusz Bialek, professor of electrical power and control at Durham University said:
“Renewables won’t deliver in time because the costs are too high. The Government is caught between a rock and a hard place and we may run out of power. Will the lights go out? No one really knows, but I don’t think they will. However it’s an unsymmetrical risk… because if the lights do go out the bill will run into billions of pounds and will cause huge disruption to society.”
See also The Telegraph, Britain ‘faces energy crisis unless ministers abandon green policies’
Deutsche Welle asked: Will the EU roll back renewables to cut energy costs? Europe finds itself with an energy vs. climate change dilemma. Electricity prices are soaring as the continent races to install renewable energy sources (solar, onshore and offshore wind) to fight climate change. At the same time these high energy prices are adding to Europe’s lackluster economic growth and creating havoc with its international competitiveness. Indeed some European firms are already abandoning the continent for cheaper electricity sources in North America and other’s are threatening to follow. European utilities, for their part, to keep their costs down are importing more and more cheap coal to generate electricity and thereby undermining the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions mandates. Faced with this stark reality, the EU is being torn over which road to go down. Should it continue with its aggressive climate change policies or relax them to allow European industry to compete and keep jobs at home?
EU leaders want to see energy get cheaper to keep European industries competitive. But how to do it without compromising climate goals is controversial. Does it mean a return to fossil fuels?
Energy Global informed us of pending electricity shortages across Europe unless the European Union takes coordinated action to protect its electric power supplies. A new study from the IHS stresses the need for a coordinated approach to power market reforms in Europe. Without such an approach, Europe is set to face “catastrophic consequences”.
The study suggests Europe could face power blackouts if utilities shut loss-making, gas-fired power plants and aging coal generators while they wait for governments and regulators to agree to power market reforms to cope with the growing impact of renewable energy sources.
The growth of wind and solar power, combined with the slump in power caused by the recession, has resulted in major impacts on Europe’s generators, reducing the running hours and profitability of coal and gas-fired power stations and raising the risk they will close plants to cut costs.
“Reforms of the power market are becoming urgent to ensure the security of Europe’s electricity supply,” says Fabien Roques, head of European power at IHS CERA. “While reforms are under discussion across Europe, there is a patchwork of proposals from different governments and what is needed is a coordinated approach”.
renewable energy focus pointed us to an online map of hydrogen installations in the UK. The UK Hydrogen Capabilities Online Map.identifies more than 70 points of hydrogen related activities in the UK including hydrogen refueling stations, hydrogen production plants, hydrogen research facilities and demonstration projects. You can access the map here.
AMEinfo observed that energy efficiency is now of great concern in the Middle East Gulf states. A population boom and economic development has fueled the growth of energy consumption in the Middle East which, in turn, is prompting many Gulf states to seriously implement energy efficiency initiatives. Countries which have launched national energy efficiency programmes include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and The United Arab Emirates.
A report prepared by global management consulting firm Oliver Wyman, said “Growing energy consumption in the Middle East threatens to sap the region’s competitiveness and economic growth. Even a moderate adoption, however, of measures used elsewhere in the world to increase energy efficiency could significantly reduce investment needs for energy infrastructure, slow the pace of energy consumption growth, free up oil for export and help mitigate pollution and the region’s carbon footprint.”