The association of German plastics processors has once again complained about continuing increases in electricity costs due to the government's energy policy U-turn.
The move to phase out nuclear power generation in Germany came after the nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan.
The association says continuing increases in surcharges on electricity bills under the EEG renewable energy law, to subsidize and further encourage power generation from renewable sources, continues to place an unacceptable burden on medium and smaller sized companies.
This is a “killer factor in international competitiveness,” said GKV, Gesamtverband Kunststoffverarbeitende Industrie eV,
It has been the predicted increase in surcharges from 6.17 euro cents (6.8 cents) per kWh in 2015 to 6.39 euro cents (7.1) in 2016 that has triggered off the complaint, with GKV pointing out that 95 percent of companies in Germany do not qualify for any relief. The same applies to households, with an average German household consuming 3,500 kWh/year paying an extra 270 euros ($300) per year just to finance the change in the energy policy.
GKV is working together with five other industry associations representing 10,000 companies and more than 1 million employees in metal casting, ceramics, textiles and fashion, potassium and salt and steel and metal processing. In a joint statement, the groups called for alternative financing to support continuing expansion of power generation from renewable sources. They suggest support should come in future from the central government's budget, instead of via electricity bill surcharges.
Aside from surcharges for solar and wind energy development subsidies, there are now surcharges to cover subsidies for central power-and-heat plants (CHP) and for keeping high CO2-emitting brown coal plants in reserve to cover periods when renewable energy does not suffice to fulfill demand.
Other issues include payments to windmill operators on windless days and to finance power transmission cables to take wind energy from North Sea windparks to Bavaria in the south.
In absence of sufficient cable transmission, with protesters calling for more expensive underground lines, German electricity has gone south via neighboring countries. This threatens network stability and leads to power being blocked from entering those countries.
Although brown coal is the cheapest way of producing electricity, even that is not profitable if underutilized, due to priority given to renewable source energy production.
Environmental activists overran an opencast brown coal digger in September. And Greenpeace announced on Oct. 6 its intention to buy out the German subsidiary of the Swedish power company Vattenfall, just to close down its brown coal operations.
That may not be so easy: EON has applied to the electricity regulator to close Europe's most modern and efficient gas powered power plant, as it is unprofitable when just kept in reserve against a background of falling wholesale electricity prices, which consumers and most of industry don't feel, due to surcharges. But getting approval for closure takes one year and may be refused if it means putting energy supply at risk. The industry minister wanted to apply an environmental penalty on brown coal power generation, but climbed down amid trade union protests, in favor of gradual closures.