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ENERGY

German companies to build world’s biggest wind park

German companies Siemens, RWE and SWE are teaming up to build the world’s largest wind park off the coast of Wales in the Irish Sea, they announced together on Friday.

German companies to build world's biggest wind park
Photo: DPA

The German engineering conglomerate and energy companies have agreed to invest in 160 wind turbines for the Welsh-named “Gwynt y Môr” project, expected to power 400,000 British homes.

Located 13 kilometres from the shore of North Wales, the 124-square-kilometre wind park will be completed in 2014, though it will begin providing electricity in 2013.

RWE’s renewable energy subsidiary RWE Innogy has taken on 60 percent of the project, while SWE will invest in 30 percent, and RWE 10 percent. Altogether they will invest more than €2 billion.

The three companies said the 567 Megawatt wind park is the largest ever to receive investment funds, though another much larger 9,000 Megawatt project on the Dogger Bank area of the North Sea is in early planning stages. That park will generate energy equivalent to that of seven power plants.

It will be RWE’s fifth wind park and part of the energy company’s goal to increase its use of renewable energy from less than five percent to 30 percent.

On Friday RWE Innogy head Fritz Varenholt criticised Germany’s sluggish construction of wind parks off its own shores.

“We don’t have our act together,” he said. “It’s unacceptable.”

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ENERGY

German government announces fresh relief package for high energy costs

With Russia's invasion in Ukraine exacerbating high energy and petrol prices, Germany is set to introduce a second relief package to limit the impact on consumers.

German government announces fresh relief package for high energy costs

The additional package of measures was announced by Economy and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) on Sunday.

Speaking to DPA, Habeck said the wave of price increases throughout the energy sector were becoming increasingly difficult for households to bear.

“Extremely high heating costs, extremely high electricity prices, and extremely high fuel prices are putting a strain on households, and the lower the income, the more so,” he said. “The German government will therefore launch another relief package.”

The costs of heating and electricity have hit record highs in the past few months due to post-pandemic supply issues. 

This dramatic rise in prices has already prompted the government to introduce a range of measures to ease the burden on households, including abolishing the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) levy earlier than planned, offering grants to low-income households and increasing the commuter allowance. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What Germany’s relief package against rising prices means for you

But since Russia invaded neighbouring Ukraine on February 24th, the attack has been driving up energy prices further, Habeck explained.

He added that fears of supply shortages and speculation on the market were currently making the situation worse. 

How will the package work?

When defining the new relief measures, the Economics Ministry will use three criteria, Habeck revealed. 

Firstly, the measures must span all areas of the energy market, including heating costs, electricity and mobility. 

Heating is the area where households are under the most pressure. The ministry estimates that the gas bill for an average family in an unrenovated one-family house will rise by about €2,000 this year. 

Secondly, the package should include measures to help save energy, such as reducing car emissions or replacing gas heating systems.

Thirdly, market-based incentives should be used to ensure that people who use less energy also have lower costs. 

“The government will now put together the entire package quickly and constructively in a working process,” said Habeck.

Fuel subsidy

The three-point plan outlined by the Green Party politician are not the only relief proposals being considered by the government.

According to reports in German daily Bild, Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FPD) is allegedly considering introducing a state fuel subsidy for car drivers.

The amount of the subsidy – which hasn’t yet been defined – would be deducted from a driver’s bill when paying at the petrol station. 

The operator of the petrol station would then have to submit the receipts to the tax authorities later in order to claim the money back. 

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, fuel prices have risen dramatically in Germany: diesel has gone up by around 66 cents per litre, while a litre of E10 has gone up by around 45 cents.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The everyday products getting more expensive in Germany

As well as support for consumers, the government is currently working on a credit assistance programme to assist German companies that have been hit hard by the EU sanctions against Russia.

As reported by Bild on Saturday, bridging aid is also being discussed for companies that can no longer manage the sharp rise in raw material prices.

In addition, an extension of the shorter working hours (Kurzarbeit) scheme beyond June 30th is allegedly being examined, as well as a further increase in the commuter allowance.

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