• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Energy firm sues EU over Brit nuclear plant

The Local · 5 Mar 2015, 15:00

Published: 05 Mar 2015 09:00 GMT+01:00
Updated: 05 Mar 2015 15:00 GMT+01:00

The Hamburg company says that the huge subsidies involved in the UK project will upset German energy markets and harm small renewable energy providers, and argues that the  the European Commission (EC) should not have given the project the go ahead because the subsidies would distort competition.

Silvia Brugger, director of the Climate and Energy Programme at the Heinrich-Böll Foundation - closely linked to Germany's Green party - told The Local that the lawsuit is "justified" and an "important signal," and denied that a favourable ruling would threaten Germany's subsidy programme for renewable energy.

"[This process] should expose the full costs of nuclear energy and conversely highlight the competitive advantages of renewable energy," said Brugger.

As part of its strategy to reduce carbon emissions, in 2006 the British government announced plans to build the country's first nuclear power plant in a generation at Hinkley Point in southwest England.

Two new nuclear reactors were to be built at a cost of €40 billion and were supposed to be operational by Christmas 2017. But the project has been beset by problems and controversy, meaning it is now five years behind schedule.

Finally the government had to entice investors with €22 billion of subsidies and a guaranteed electricity price of €0.11 per kilowatt-hour - twice the current market rate.

Greenpeace Energy claims that these massive subsidies will push down energy prices across Europe, effectively reducing profits for renewable energy firms, which buy energy at a fixed rate from producers.

A spokesman for the company, Christoph Rasch, told The Local that the EC had taken its decision “without sufficient scrutiny” of its consequences for the European energy market and particularly for renewable energy.

"The studies we have commissioned show that a significant competitive disadvantage for us as a company in the electricity single market would develop," he said.

German taxpayer hit

The UK project may also cost the German tax payer due to the subsidy system Germany has put in place to reduce its carbon emissions.

Story continues below…

Germany subsidises the difference between the market price of energy and the expensive production costs of renewable energy.

According to a report by think-tank Energy Brainpool, the Hinkley Point plant will undermine German energy prices, meaning the government will have to pay more to make up the difference.

The overall impact of the UK project would be small - €17 million out of a €20 billion fund for renewable energy.

But the fear is that the European Commission decision to allow the construction would encourage countries like Poland, Romania and Lithuania, which all have plans to invest in nuclear energy, to push on with their schemes and further destabilise the German renewable energy market.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Erdogan to Berlin: be sensible on Armenia genocide bill
Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: DPA

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday called Angela Merkel to ask for "common sense" over a resolution recognising the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces as "genocide", local media reported.

3 asylum seekers arrested for sexual assaults at music fest
The Schlossgrabenfest in Darmstadt. Photo: DPA

Update: Police in Darmstadt have received 14 complaints of sexual assault from women who attended a music festival in the city over the weekend.

Dalai Lama says there are 'too many' refugees in Europe
The Dalai Lama. Photo: DPA

The Dalai Lama said in an interview published Thursday that Europe has accepted "too many" refugees, and that they should eventually return to help rebuild their home countries.

Footballer Özil’s Mecca visit was unpatriotic, say AfD
Mesut Özil. Photo: DPA

When national football star Mesut Özil posted a picture of himself in Mecca on Facebook it received 21,000 ‘likes’. But Germany’s far right party see it is an act of provocation.

Star winger axed from Germany Euros squad
Marco Reus. Photo: DPA

Marco Reus endured more injury heartache with Germany on Tuesday - his 27th birthday - as he was cut from their final Euro 2016 squad, two years after missing the World Cup.

Every third child in Berlin now dependent on welfare
Photo: DPA

Child poverty is on the rise across Germany. But in the national capital and Bremen the situation is particularly severe.

Kraftwerk defeat makes Germany safe for DJs
A Kraftwerk stage show. File photo: DPA

Techno pioneers Kraftwerk have lost a near 20-year court battle over sampling - making the practice A-OK in Germany for the first time ever.

Hanover teen stabbed police officer 'on orders from Isis'
A police officer standing on a platform at Hanover main station. Photo: DPA

A 15-year-old girl who knifed a policewoman at Hanover's main train station in February may have been acting under orders from Isis terrorists, media reported on Tuesday.

Support for Merkel govt dips below 50 percent
Chancellor Angela Merkel (l) and Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel (r). Photo: DPA

Germany came in for a political first on Tuesday as a new poll showed combined support for Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government dropped below 50 percent for the first time.

Med rescuers share human cost of refugee crisis
A refugee boat capsizes in the Mediterranean off the Libyan coast on May 25th, in an accident in which five people lost their lives. Photo: Marina Militare/Italian Navy/DPA

GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING: A photo of a dead migrant baby pulled from the Mediterranean was published by a charity hoping to force European leaders to grant migrants safe passage, after hundreds were presumed to have died at sea last week.

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
National
The future belongs to these 10 German regions
Society
Pegida enraged by black children on chocolate bars
Health
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
National
Bayer's Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists
Lifestyle
10 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
Politics
MP recites explicit Erdogan bestiality poem on live TV
National
China beats Germany in readiness to help refugees
Hamburg
The headless sex doll that put Lübeck police on high alert
National
Pensioner claims to have found hidden Nazi nukes
Business & Money
Here's why Munich is worth 20 times more than Berlin
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that will stay with you forever
Technology
Church plans to connect with faithful at Wi-Fi 'Godspots'
Technology
Online hate speech can cost users thousands of Euros
Society
Bavarians in rush for non-lethal weapons licenses
Sport
Here's Germany's Mannschaft for Euro 2016
Culture
The Syrian pianist playing his way into Germans' hearts
The parrot who flew fast enough to trigger a speed camera
Technology
New law could let free Wi-Fi bloom across Germany
Politics
Berlin's plans to beef up the German army
7,813
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd