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Polish offer to run nuclear power plant embarrasses RWE

The Polish government has approached German energy giant RWE to help run a new nuclear power station, the business weekly Wirtschaftswoche reported as the company held a turbulent shareholders' meeting.

Polish offer to run nuclear power plant embarrasses RWE
Photo: DPA

Sources at Poland’s Economics Ministry told the magazine that Prime Minister Donald Tusk was planning to invite RWE to take a share of at least 20 percent of the main investor in the project, Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE).

The plan is to restart work on a nuclear power station in Zarnowiec near Gdansk, which was stopped in the 1990s. The building work is to be taken care of by the French company Areva.

The operating consortium would need RWE as an experienced nuclear power plant operator, the magazine said. Above all, “the consistent pro-nuclear policies of Jürgen Grossmann,” would be an encouraging sign to Poles to work with RWE, the magazine quoted its Warsaw sources, referring to RWE’s CEO.

But the RWE board denied knowing anything about it, a spokesman saying on Tuesday evening, “That is not true, we do not want to take part in a Polish nuclear power station.”

RWE held its annual general meeting on Wednesday where Grossmann’s celebrated pro-nuclear stance was causing problems rather than attracting business.

Shareholders were greeted at the entrance to the Grugahalle in Essen by hundreds of anti-nuclear protestors shouting for the company to close down its nuclear power plants and trying to block the route in by sitting on the ground.

Inside the meeting Grossmann defended his legal challenge to the German government’s three-month moratorium on nuclear power stations imposed after the Japanese disaster. This has closed down seven of the country’s oldest such plants.

Grossmann said there was no legal basis for this, and that the plants fulfilled all safety demands. He said his legal challenge to the government was unavoidable and in the interests of RWE’s shareholders.

Yet he admitted that the government had the highest authority over policy. “If it is the definite will of the majority of the people of Germany and the policy which represents them, to stop using nuclear power in the future, we will not ignore them,” he said.

But he said such a step would cost hundreds of millions of euros.

His attitude was not shared by all his shareholders, with Hans-Christoph Hirt from the Association of Institutional Private Investors saying that Grossmann’s his confrontation with the government on the matter was risking the firm’s reputation and acceptance.

DAPD/hc

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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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