A blistering attack on the rise in renewables’ subsidies and the phase-out of nuclear power was delivered in Cologne yesterday by Martin Giesen, chairman of Advanced Power.

Delivering one of speeches at the Joint Opening Keynote Session at POWER-GEN Europe and Renewable Energy World Europe, he said the combination of the two – coming on the back of the economic crisis – had been a “truly deadly mixture”.
Giessen

And he added that this deadly mixture had resulted in combined losses of €200bn for major utilities EDF, EON and RWE. “These are horrendously large numbers” he said, adding the cost could also be counted by saying that “every citizen of the EU has lost €1000”.

“This is all bad enough,” he added, “but perhaps worse, is that confidence in markets, future price signals and asset valuations has collapsed. Government mandated subsidies for renewables – whose impact was enormously underestimated – have completely changed the industry.”

“And government-mandated shutdowns of nuclear stations have taken away trust and ownership rights and the rights to enjoy the benefits of that ownership.”

Also speaking at the Joint Opening Keynote Session was Matthias Hartung, chief executive of RWE Generation and RWE Power, and Vesa Riihimaki, president of power plants and executive vice-president for Wartsila Corp.

Mr Hartung warned that “what we are doing in this business is not sustainable”.

He said his company was already shutting down or mothballing power plants, and highlighted the case of a 48 per cent efficiency CCGT plant in The Netherlands which had been shutdown.

 “In Germany we have a complete transformation of a country’s energy sector”, yet he said that this in fact involved two transitions: a “small energy transformation until 2022” when the phase out of nuclear will be complete, and then “a large-scale transition to 2050”.

While he stressed his backing for the Energiewende – “the transition is necessary: we are supporting it and changing our business model” – he added: “To fulfil this we also need support from the political environment and the regulatory framework.”

He said for a successful energy transtition, policy reforms were necessary at both European and national levels, and these reforms were vital, he stressed, because “this will destroy the European energy system if we continue like this”.

Mr Riihimaki said that what Germany – and the rest of Europe – needed in order to rebalance the intermittency of renewables in the system was a “flexibility toolkit”.

But in order to embrace and utilise flexible generation, he said “there is a need for a flexibility market.”

“Not a capacity market – a flexibility market. Flexibility means resources that we can keep in standstill, switch on and then switch off again. This requires a new business model.”