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ENERGY

Vattenfall sues Germany over nuke power move

Swedish power group Vattenfall said Thursday it was joining bigger rivals E.ON and RWE in filing a complaint with Germany's top court seeking compensation for Berlin's decision to abandon nuclear power.

Vattenfall sues Germany over nuke power move

“We have recently lodged a complaint with the Constitutional Court,” a spokeswoman for Germany’s third biggest nuclear energy producer told AFP.

The spokeswoman stressed that the complaint was not against the decision to ditch nuclear power per se but against the requirement to shut down reactors early, which they say infringes their proprietary rights.

The move follows similar complaints lodged in April by RWE and in November by E.ON.

All three companies have already seen profits fall sharply.

In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, Berlin decided to phase out nuclear power, forcing energy suppliers to shut down their profitable large-scale power plants and also levying a tax on the reactors’ fuel for their remaining lifespan.

Vattenfall has previously claimed it stands to lose €700 million ($957 million) it had invested in the nuclear power stations Krümmel and Brunsbüttel after the government originally agreed to extend the life-spans of its nuclear power stations.

Both of those reactors were shut down permanently earlier this year after Angela Merkel’s government performed a dramatic U-turn following the Fukushima disaster.

Germany’s last nuclear power stations are set to be shut down permanently in 2022.

Vattenfall said it was seeking “appropriate compensation” from Germany for expected losses caused by the nuclear reversal.

Germany’s biggest power utility E.ON has said it wants at least €8.0 billion.

AFP/The Local

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ENERGY

Sweden to stop local governments blocking wind parks in final stages

Sweden's government has proposed a new law which will remove local municipalities' power to block wind parks in the final stages of the planning process, as part of a four-point plan to speed up the expansion of wind power.

Sweden to stop local governments blocking wind parks in final stages

“We are doing this to meet the increased need for electricity which is going to come as a result of our green industrial revolution,” Strandhäll said at a press conference. 

“It is important to strengthen Sweden by rapidly breaking our dependence on fossil fuels, building out our energy production and restructuring our industry. The Swedish people should not be dependent on countries like Russia to drive their cars or warm their homes.”

“We are going to make sure that municipalities who say “yes” to wind power get increased benefits,” she added in a press statement. “In addition, we are going to increase the speed with which wind power is built far offshore, which can generally neither be seen or heard from land.” 

While municipalities will retain a veto over wind power projects on their territory under the proposed new law, they will have to take their decision earlier in the planning process to prevent wind power developers wasting time and effort obtaining approvals only for the local government to block projects at the final stags. 

“For the local area, it’s mostly about making sure that those who feel that new wind parks noticeably affect their living environment also feel that they see positive impacts on their surroundings as a result of their establishment,” Strandhäll said.  “That might be a new sports field, an improved community hall, or other measures that might make live easier and better in places where wind power is established.” 

According to a report from the Swedish Energy Agency, about half of the wind projects planned since 2014 have managed to get approval. But in recent years opposition has been growing, with the opposition Moderate, Swedish Democrats, and Christian Democrat parties increasingly opposing projects at a municipal level. 

Municipalities frequently block wind park projects right at the end of the planning process following grassroots local campaigns. 

The government a month ago sent a committee report, or remiss, to the Council on Legislation, asking them to develop a law which will limit municipal vetoes to the early stages of the planning process. 

At the same time, the government is launching two inquiries. 

The first will look into what incentives could be given to municipalities to encourage them to allow wind farms on their land, which will deliver its recommendations at the end of March next year. In March, Strandhäll said that municipalities which approve wind farm projects should be given economic incentives to encourage them to accept projects on their land. 

The second will look into how to give the government more power over the approvals process for wind projects under Sweden’s environmental code. This will deliver its recommendations at the end of June next year. 

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