German power giants hold back clean energies


Despite the energy and climate crisis, the giant transnational power companies dominating the German market, RWE, E.on, Vattenfall and EnBW, are neglecting to grow clean technologies and continue to bank on nuclear and coal electricity generation.


This is the finding of a study commissioned by the German Greenpeace branch from the Berlin-based Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW).


In the stations mix of the four giants the share of wind, biomass, earth heat and solar power, without old hydro installations, is only 0.1 to 1.7 per cent, compared with the German average of 10.8%.


At a maximum 10 to 15 per cent renewables are also negligible in the corporations’ investment plans.


"With their self-service mentality big energy corporations are blocking decisive steps for climate protection and supply security,” says

Andree Böhling, energy expert at Greenpeace.


"They’re delaying the conversion of the energy supply and with monopolistic profits damage Germany as an economic location. Their big-ticket public relations campaigns can’t disguise that.”


The study states that although the four corporations, which dominate 80 to 90 per cent of the German electricity supply, produce between two and 20 per cent of their power with renewable sources, these were mainly old hydropower installations.


The main producers of power from wind, biomass, earth heat and the sun were independent municipal corporations, medium-sized firms and private households.


E.on and RWE are now announcing investment of billions in renewables, but the actual sums amounting to less than 10% (E.on) and about 15% (RWE) of the totals, fall far short of what’s needed.


The corporations are mainly pursuing expansion of large power stations in order to consolidate their market-dominating position in electricity production and to achieve high profits.


At the same time their monopoly ownership of the transmission grids enables them to block their necessary extension.


For constant growth of clean energy generation and fair competition on the energy market, Greenpeace demands the establishment of an independent grid corporation to which all large energy suppliers have to surrender their transmission networks.


The biggest corporations, E.on und RWE, should also be forced to sell their holdings in municipal power companies and large power stations and be stopped from building any more large stations.


"The renewable energies have a stand-out role to play for the climate and the German economy because they reduce damage to the environment, durably secure affordable energy and create jobs.


“If the power companies additionally block the growth of renewables by delaying grid expansion, politicians have to break up RWE and Co. and thereby remove the oligopolistic structures on the energy markets,” says



Contacts: Andree Böhling, Tel. #49 (0)151-180 533 82 or press spokeswoman Cornelia Deppe-Burghardt, Tel.: #49 (0)151-145 330 87. The complete study (in German) is at www.


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While many industrial enterprises complain that it's hard to get loans from the banks, wind turbine makers in Germany don't feel any downturn in their business. Expensive turbines are still being financed despite the world
crisis, with double-digit growth figures still the norm for manufacturers. The news comes from the Hannover industrial fair, the world's biggest, where the turbine makers plan to shine with their latest models. It opens Monday. Wind energy is one of its focal sectors. Wind energy firms can count on more stimulus from government programmes launched in many countries to counter the crisis. Many firms are looking to the US where President Obama has announced a turnaround in energy policy.

Despite Europe's boom in solar and wind energy, CO2 emissions haven't been reduced by even a single gram. Now, even the German Greens party is taking a new look at the issue -- as shown in e-mails obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE.

Germany's renewable energy companies are a tremendous success story. Roughly 15 percent of the country's electricity comes from solar, wind or biomass facilities, almost 250,000 jobs have been created and the net worth of the business is €35 billion per year.

But there's a catch: The climate hasn't in fact profited from these developments. As astonishing as it may sound, the new wind turbines and solar cells haven't prohibited the emission of even a single gram of CO2.

Der Spiegel’s story is at,1518,606763,00.html.


The argument set out in the Spiegel Online  article is misleading and simplistic.   Renewable energy generators  have in fact  ‘offset’ millions of tonnes of CO2 that would have been produced by fossil fuels power stations.  Renewable generation is not an end itself, it is a tool.  


The fact is, if we are to curb greenhouse gas emissions,  we need to pursue energy conservation and efficiency (such as the  building renovations discussed in the article) at the same time as we  develop clean, renewable energy sources.  These are parallel strategies, and emissions trading  must  be designed to support them in order to achieve  a low or zero carbon future.


 To avoid climate catastrophe  we  need to set  targets that make deep cuts to our carbon emissions, that  are informed by the science and that are reviewed regularly.  This will prevent the dirty coal fired stations, and Australia has a lot of those,  buying up cheap permits. 


Emissions trading cannot and should not operate without a  host of complementary measures.  We need to reduce the energy intensity of the economy through energy and resource efficiency and conservation measures driven by policies and laws with legally binding, time-framed  targets.   We also need to develop a clean energy sector  based on renewable energy technologies that will displace the need to produce energy from fossil fuels or nuclear power.


The Spiegel article fails to concede that both the renewable energy law and emissions trading can and must be adjusted regularly to ensure that the objectives are aligned.  The article also fails to acknowledge the role of a vast array of complementary targets and initiatives that are needed to achieve carbon emissions reductions.


Scratch below the surface and you will find  a robust debate about the effectiveness  of emissions trading and renewable energy targets and a lot of other issues  in the Greens- that is healthy.  You will find that there is universal agreement on the need for urgent climate action. For that reason,  you  will find many initiatives for energy, water and building efficiency materials recycling on Greens MPs websites from all around Australia.  (for a start see )  



Paul Llewellyn

Paul Llewellyn MLC

Greens Member for the  South West Region

mobile: 0428 317 182

Ph:    08 9848 1555

Fax:  08 9848 2200

Freecall:   1800 641 440