Thursday, 14 December 2017

New Book `European Energy Law Report XI´ Out Now

Building on the presentations held at the annual European Energy Law Seminar taking place every January in The Hague (NL), this book reviews central energy law issues from a national, EU and international perspective.  It has been an honour for me to contribute a chapter on ´Shale Gas and the EU´ (chapter XIV). The book is available from Intersentia here. The Table of Contents can be found here.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Results of ENTSOG`s `Gas Stress Test` Published

In 2017 the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENTSOG) conducted a `stress test` (security of supply simulation) for the European gas network and recently published a report on the results. This Union-Wide Security of Supply Simulation Report 2017 found that particularly South-East European countries (namely Romania and Bulgaria) as well as Finland could run into severe issues in case of disruption of gas supplies to Europe.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

29th European Energy Law Seminar

The Dutch Energy Law Association announced that the upcoming 29th round of the European Energy Law Seminar will take place on 22 and 23 January 2018 in Hampshire Hotel Babylon in The Hague (Netherlands). The finalized programme and all further details will be available asap at the Association`s  website www.never.nl. Registration will be possible via that website. Financial support for European PhD or Master students is available to enable participation in this high-profile seminar.

Friday, 17 November 2017

European Commission on `Nord Stream 2` - New Amendments to Gas Directive Proposed

On 8 November 2017 the European Commission issued a proposal for a Directive
amending Directive 2009/73/EC concerning common rules for the internal market in
natural gas COM(2017) 660 final. The main aim of the proposed Directive is to make the Gas Directive in its entirety applicable to gas pipelines that are connecting a third state with a EU state, like the envisaged Russian-German Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Friday, 10 November 2017

How Germany Could Get Rid of Coal

The phase out of coal in Germany is one of the most contentious topics in current discussions on the formation of a new German government after Germany held general elections in September 2017. The  biggest German energy law firm Becker Buettner & Held now issued a legal analysis of the possibilities to phase out coal in Germany. It finds that a phasing out of coal in Germany would be possible and the study highlights ways in which the legal pitfalls encountered with the pase out of nuclear power in the country could be circumvented. The study is available here (German language version only).

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

New EU Gas Security of Supply Regulation 2017/1938

The European Commission  published the long-anticipated Regulation to safeguard the security of gas supply (EU) 2017/1938 yesterday. From tomorrow (1 November 2017) onwards it replaces Regulation (EU) 994/2010. The new regulation is available at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.L_.2017.280.01.0001.01.ENG&toc=OJ:L:2017:280:TOC 

Friday, 27 October 2017

10 years GCEL: The North Sea as a Source of Sustainable Energy and Law


The Groningen Centre of Energy Law (GCEL) was founded 10 years ago at the University of Groningen. To mark the anniversary, an international conference titled `The North Sea as a source of Sustainable Energy and Law` will be held at the Hilton Hotel in The Hague on 8 December. Registration is now open at: https://www.rug.nl/rechten/congressen/gcel/10-years-gcel/registration-form.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

The Dutch Climate Plan - Big Leap or Pie in the Sky?

The new Dutch government has announced its climate plan. By 2030 the Netherlands wants to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 49 per cent compared to 1990 levels. Amongst the measures to achieve this is the shut down of all coal fired power plants in the Netherlands and the industrial-scale introduction of CCS in the country. But is this realistic and can it really work out?

Thursday, 5 October 2017

China introduces New Energy Vehicle quota from 2019 onwards

After years of media muttering and delays of the plan, China finally introduced a quota for new energy vehicles (covering all zero- and low emission cars like electric vehicles and hydrogen cars, but also hybrids). From 2019 onwards the so-called cap-and-trade policy obliges  automakers to obtain a new-energy vehicle score - which is linked to the production of various types of zero- and low-emission vehicles - of at least 10 percent, rising to 12 percent in 2020, according to the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The initial plan of the Chinese government was to roll-out a quota system by 2018 already, but car manufacturers from around the globe succeeded in lobbying the government to delay the plan for one year.

Monday, 2 October 2017

New book: Shale Gas, the Environment and Energy Security

The book is offering the first formal assessment of the legality of fracking bans and moratoria. Ruven Fleming examines how changes in the constitutional set-ups of EU Member States over the last 25 years have substantially altered the legal leverage of environmental protection and energy security as state objectives. He argues that the practical consequence of these changes has been the self-inflicted curtailment of legislative discretion. Fleming further proposes a new methodology  for the development of legally sound regulation of new energy technologies in the context of the energy transition. More information can be found on the website of Edward Elgar Publishing.

Monday, 18 September 2017

German Election Special: Party Positions on Energy and Climate

As Germany is heading to the polls this week (Sunday 24 September 2017), the energy and climate law blog assesses  the election manifestos of the main political parties in Germany with a  view to energy and climate. What is Germany`s renewable energy future looking like? Is the German energy turnaround (Energiewende) here to stay and how shall it be steered in the coming years?  How do the parties aim to combat climate change? 

Monday, 11 September 2017

Dutch Regulator ACM says Dutch TSO TenneT broke the law

The Dutch energy regulator ACM issued an order today according to which the Dutch Transmission System Operator (TSO) TenneT was to blame for the big power outage in the Amsterdam area in 2015. One million people and several industries were affected by the outage, amongst them Tata Steel, who have launched a complaint with ACM. ACM now said thatTenneT acted in contradiction to a number of its legal obligations, above all the so called ‘enkelvoudige storingsreserve’.

Friday, 8 September 2017

10th Annual Legal Research Network Conference: 'Law and Sustainability' (Groningen, 13-15 September 2017)

The Faculty of Law of the University of Groningen organizes the 10th annual Legal Research Network Conference on 13-15 September 2017 in cooperation with the Faculties of Law of the Universities of Bristol, Budapest (ELTE), Ghent, Göttingen, Groningen, Lille–Nord de France, Turku and Uppsala. The central theme of the conference is 'Law and Sustainability'. Registration is open via: http://www.rug.nl/rechten/congressen/archief/2017/legal-research-network/?lang=en

Monday, 4 September 2017

Changes to the French Onshore Wind Support Scheme: a tortuous pathway toward an ill-conceived auction regime ?


By Romain Mauger, Post-doctoral fellow, Groningen Centre of Energy Law

Onshore wind energy development in France was marked by a very high level of legal uncertainty caused by regulation volatility in the past years. This factor is one of the main to explain the volatility of annual wind energy new connections to the grid in France from 2006 to 2016, especially with a difficult time from 2011 to 2013 [1]. Regarding the support scheme, since 2001 onshore wind energy was supported by Feed-in-Tariffs (FiT) [2], but this has changed in 2017 after a rather difficult transition to Feed-in-Premiums (FiP). The following lines provide elements on the multiple steps of this policy change, portray its current results and raise some critics.

Monday, 28 August 2017

North Sea Offshore Grid - New Study Highlights Need for Public Money

The European Commission published a new study about an offshore electricity grid in the Irish Seas and the North Sea. The grid is supposed to deal with increasing offshore renewable energy production in the region. The study points to the need for a high level of planning and coordination that has to be deployed in the construction of an offshore renewable energy system. It also suggests that considerable public money is needed for the project.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Germany`s Plans to Catch-up With E-car and Hydrogen Vehicels - `Alles Diesel, oder was?`


The scandal about manipulations of Diesel-emissions by German car-manufacturers made headlines around the globe. Among its  legacy, however, are incentives for German car-consumers to switch to electric vehicles and hydrogen cars. There is also a plan to introduce a binding e-car quota in Germany.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Summer Break

The Energy and Climate Law Blog is on summer break to enjoy the sun and recharge batteries. The blog is returning with new analyses of energy and climate law developments by August. Many thanks for your support and have a good summer time!

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Second Win For the Nuclear Industry in Germany Shatters Legal Design of Nuclear Phase Out - Case Comment BVerfG2 BvL 6/13

After ruling in December 2016 that the acceleration of the nuclear phase-out in Germany by the Merkel administration was not sufficiently designed to seal it off against compensation claims, the German Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG) yesterday delivered a second blow to the policy of phasing out nuclear power in Germany. The BVerfG declared the so called fuel element tax (Brennelementesteuer) null and void. In a groundbreaking statement the court shut down the possibilities for the state to `ìnvent` taxes, which has consequences for a proposed carbon tax in Germany.

Friday, 2 June 2017

President Trump Announces US Departure from the Paris Climate Agreement - A Legal Analysis

On 1 June 2017 President Donald Trump announced that the US is  withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement. According to the White House, President Trump thinks that the accord undermines US competitiveness and jobs. But is it possible to just walk away from the Paris Agreement? What does the law say and what would be the mechanisms and the consequences that govern such a departure?

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Spain’s Winning Streak in ECT Arbitration on Renewable Energy Comes to an End as the First ICSID Award is Rendered


By Cees Verburg, PhD Researcher, Groningen Centre of Energy Law

 On 4th May the first ICSID Tribunal rendered its award in a case brought by a British and Luxembourgish investor against Spain.[1] In this case the Spanish winning streak in Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) arbitration, which consisted of victories in the Charanne v. Spain and Isolux v. Spain cases, came to an abrupt end. The Tribunal came to the conclusion that the Spanish measures, which replaced a renewable energy support scheme for a less favourable new one, amounted to a violation of the fair and equitable treatment standard of Art. 10(1) ECT. Consequently, the investors were awarded EUR 128 million in damages.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Vjosa Hydropower Project Called Off by Albanian Court

In the first-ever environmental law-suit in Albania several NGOs prevailed in stopping the government to further pursue the Vjosa dam project.  At the banks of the Vjosa, which has been described as `Europe`s last wild river´, a hydropower plant was commissioned, including a dam that was supposed to be built by a Turkish company.  The Albanian court allegedly found the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project to be `highly deficient´.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

The New German `Fracking´ Package

Today my latest paper called `The new German `fracking´ package was published, open access, in the Journal of Energy and Natural Resources Law. The article analyses substantial incoherencies in the new German framework on hydraulic fracturing and shale gas extraction, which went into force in February 2017. It argues that these flaws make the framework susceptible to, potentially successful, legal challenges by energy companies in the future.

Monday, 24 April 2017

New study reveals that the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is not working

A new study of the German research group Öko-Institut found that a mere 2 per cent of projects under the clean development mechanism (CDM) had a high probability to lead to additional reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The poor performance of the CDM reflects badly on a central pillar of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which was thought to give poor countries access to new technologies and financial means.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Eurelectric pledges to end electricity production from coal-fired power plants

Eurelectric, the European association of electricity-producers, announced on 5 April that its members signed a pledge not to build any new coal-fired power plants in Europe after 2020. If implemented, the remarkable plan would put an end to electricity production from coal-fired power plants in Europe in the foreseeable future. Poland and Greece, however, are notable absentees from the commitment.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Decommissioning UK North Sea platforms comes at a huge price - tax payer likely to foot the bill

Research into the decommissioning of UK North Sea oil rigs found that the industry is facing huge costs. However, due to insufficient financial reserves it is likely that the tax payer has to pay for the majority of the costs. This poses legal questions about liability and the so called `polluter pays principle´.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Shale Gas Moratorium in Germany - Wintershall abandons research in North-Rhine Westphalia

In the wake of the Brexit referendum and the European Football Championship, the German parliament resolved a ban on shale gas extraction by early summer 2016. The ban went into force in February 2017. Now a first, controversial, decision in the German federal state of North-Rhine Westphalia not to prolong an existing authorization of the company Wintershall is the first regulatory decision, based on the ban.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Gazprom and the EU are Reaching a Deal - A Pyrrhic Victory for Central and Eastern Europe?

By Gijs Kreeft, PhD researcher at the Groningen Centre of Energy Law

Five and a half years after raiding Gazprom’s offices, the competition authorities of the European Union, namely Margrethe Vestager (Commissioner in charge of competition policy) announced on  13th March that a deal with the Russian state-owned energy giant in an antitrust investigation was reached. The deal seems to usher in an era of détente between Gazprom and the European Commission and may constitute a next step towards the approval of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project by the Commission later this year.


Monday, 13 March 2017

Final Part 3 Energy Perspective On the Dutch Elections – Where is the Discussion on Energy Transition and Climate Change?


In a series of blogs, Ceciel Nieuwenhout and Gijs Kreeft, both PhD researchers at the Groningen Centre of Energy Law, will expand on energy related topics which play a role in the campaign towards the upcoming Dutch parliament elections of March 15. See the first blog in this series for an introduction on the Dutch political landscape.
As the Netherlands are, to a large extend, located below sea-level, one would expect that climate change is taken very serious here. However, unlike other low-lying coastal areas, in the Netherlands the effects of climate change are seen as ‘manageable’.[1] Perhaps this is why climate change and the energy transition are not so much of an issue during the current election debates. This blog post will elaborate upon Dutch obligations with regard to climate action and the energy transition, what political and legislative initiatives currently exist, what the parties’ stances are for the coming elections and why climate change is not more prominently covered during election debates.

Friday, 10 March 2017

An Energy Perspective On the Dutch Elections – Part 2: What to do with coal-fired power plants in the Netherlands?


In a series of blogs, Ceciel Nieuwenhout and Gijs Kreeft, both PhD researchers at the Groningen Centre of Energy Law, will expand on energy related topics, which play a role in the campaign towards the upcoming Dutch parliament elections of March 15.
This is the second blog. For the first blog, which also includes a general overview of the Dutch political landscape, click http://energyandclimatelaw.blogspot.de/2017/03/an-energy-perspective-on-dutch_6.html
The Netherlands hosts ten coal-fired power plants. Three of these have only just been commissioned in 2015/2016 and are state-of-the-art installations. However, there are a few older plants, which were built during the 1980s and 1990s. Currently a public debate is on its way about whether or not the coal-fired power plants in the Netherlands need to be closed. In recent years the oldest and least efficient three installations were already closed. Now, the debate focuses on the premature closure of the two remaining older power plants from 1994 and 1995 and the three newest power plants.
In the current government, the topic lead to a clash between the Minister of Economic Affairs, Henk Kamp, of the Conservative Liberals (VVD) and the State Secretary of Infrastructure and Environment, Sharon Dijksma, of the Labour Party (PvdA).[1] Kamp is against early closure of the 1994 and 1995 installations, whereas Dijksma intends to close these in 2020 in order to reach the climate objectives of the Netherlands. In the end, they decided to postpone the decision and leave this to the new government.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Energy and Climate Law at Groningen Among Top 10 Energy LLMs in the World

According to the website www.LLM-Guide.com, a leading directory of Master of Laws (LL.M.) programmes, the LLM in Energy and Climate Law at the University of Groningen is among the 10 best energy law programmes in the world. Today LLM-Guide.com launched a new Top 10 list of LLM programmes, which features Groningen´s LLM in Energy and Climate Law https://llm-guide.com/lists/speciality/top-llm-programs-for-energy-law.


Monday, 6 March 2017

An Energy Perspective On the Dutch Elections – Part 1: Gas Production in Groningen

In a series of blogs, Ceciel Nieuwenhout and Gijs Kreeft, both PhD researchers at the Groningen Centre of Energy Law, will expand on energy related topics, which play a role in the campaign towards the upcoming Dutch parliament elections of March 15.


The Dutch Political Landscape
At the start of this series of blogs on energy related topics in this Dutch parliamentary election cycle, it is useful to give an overview of how the Dutch political landscape currently looks like. In total 28 parties are competing for the favour of the voters. Obviously it goes well beyond the scope of this blog to discuss the energy agendas of all parties. Instead we will limit ourselves to the position of the parties which, based on prognosis, are expected to play a role in the formation of a new cabinet.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Building Insulation - scientific findings suggest that current building laws are outdated

A long-time study on improving energy efficiency of buildings came to a surprising result in Munich last week. More than 7 years ago the Munich building society GEWOFAG fitted 6 exactly identical multi-storey building with various different energy saving technologies to find out which was the most efficient. The stunning result: installing a simple mechanism that automatically switches off radiators in a room when the windows are opened is more efficient, cheaper and almost maintenance free, compared to more traditional approaches like ramping up building insulation. What are the indications of this research for building laws?

Friday, 17 February 2017

Saúl Luciano Lliuya v RWE - Huaraz Climate Case in Germany rejected

The German district court of Essen dismissed a case that was launched by the Peruvian farmer Saúl Luciano Lliuya. The case is reminiscent of the Dutch Urgenda case, which has been discussed earlier on this blog. Lliuya asked the court to rule in a civil lawsuit that the German energy company RWE, which is based in the city of Essen, has to pay, 17.000 Euros to a Peruvian community to compensate for its pollution, which is leading to climate change. The claim was based on § 1004 German Civil Code (BGB), which establishes that subjects interfering with alien property have to take immediate action to intercept the infringement of that property.


Friday, 3 February 2017

UK: Government and Ofgem single out price increases of npower for criticism

Today the British energy regulator OFGEM and the British government have taken the unusual step of  publicly criticising the energy company npower. Earlier today npower announced that its averaged energy prices will  rise from 16 March onwards by 10 per cent, with a whopping 15 per cent increase in the price of electricity under npower´s standard tariff.