The energy company Vattenfall is fighting for a green image and inaugurates its largest wind farm. But Greenpeace activists bring abruptly onto the stage, which is just the next big conflict between the group and government: the coal phase-out.By Markus Balser
Despite the billions dispute over the nuclear phase, despite the heated discussion about the climate-damaging coal opencast mines of the group: It should finally back something to celebrate in Germany give for Vattenfall CEO Magnus Hall. In Altona Kaispeicher, a place with industrial charm and Elbblick, the group wanted to do on Thursday in a sophisticated atmosphere something for his image and officially take one of the largest German offshore wind farms to the grid. Federal Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) had come, his Swedish colleague Mikael Damberg also. Together with Hamburg’s Mayor Olaf Scholz and Schleswig-Holstein’s Prime Minister Thorsten Albig (both SPD) they put around the switch. 70 km before the park Sylt Dan Tysk provides henceforth power 400 000 homes.
But from the carefree festival was nothing. Hall had just begun his speech, as already boarded environmentalists from Greenpeace, the party on the banks of the Elbe. Activists unfurled protest posters on the stage, even a fishing boat floated the message before the dumbfounded hard society up and down: “Vattenfall: coal is to remain in the ground.”
For Hall was finally clear: There are stormy times for his company in Germany. The celebration with the participating politicians should both sides to the dispute over the accelerated nuclear phase-out and the billion lawsuit the group again reconcile a little. But the activists brought abruptly to the stage, which just is the next conflict biggest caliber between Group and Government:. The coal exit
For Vattenfall a huge issue, because around 90 percent of the electricity produced by the Group in Germany , comes from coal power stations; most of them are fueled with lignite. Therefore, the Group has come to the attention of environmentalists. And precisely this particularly harmful energy sources will push piece by piece from the net the federal government. With a climate tax, which Gabriel himself drives to achieve Germany’s climate targets. They should pay to use operators of older lignite power stations as they mainly RWE and Vattenfall
However, on Thursday was also clear. The energy industry wants to fight against the tax. That made Vattenfall CEO Magnus Hall clear to journalists in Hamburg. They meet the economy too hard. Come the levy as previously planned, it was hardly possible to operate coal-fired plants by 2030 or even longer, Hall warned with regard to the approximately 8,000 employees of the Group in the eastern coal mines. “Then we have to shut down many power plants.” The group was in discussions with the policy in order to defuse the specifications. “You have to give more time for structural change in the region,” Hall called and admitted simultaneously: The change will come in any case. The business of coal in East Germany will decline significantly in the coming decades.
Gabriel’s plans threaten the “social Blackout entire regions,” warned trade unions this past weekend on a mass demonstration in Berlin. Also Vattenfall they hit hard. For they even threaten to complicate the multi-billion dollar sales plans for the coal sector. The Swedes are to withdraw under pressure from the Swedish government in the greenhouse business. Although there are several interested parties for the division, Hall said in Hamburg. But whether the sale could go as planned by the end of the year on the stage, was open.
Gabriel made already clear where he sees the future. When energy ministerial meeting in Hamburg in mid-May he planned with colleagues a flight to new wind farm. “We want to show the world what we have to offer.”