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Minister 'puts brakes' on German energy switch
Photo: DPA

Minister 'puts brakes' on German energy switch

Published: 12 Oct 2012 12:53 GMT+02:00
Updated: 12 Oct 2012 12:53 GMT+02:00

German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier came under fire Friday for controversial plans to put limits on Germany’s rapid extension of renewable energy sources - a key part of the country’s strategy to phase out nuclear energy by 2020.

Minister Altmaier said on Thursday that something must be done to take the financial burden off German consumers, who will be expected to pay a higher levy on their electricity bills from next year, because of the transition to renewables. To do this, Altmaier suggested a complete overhaul of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG).

Furthermore, said the minister, the current rate of growth in wind energy and biogas power plants had to be made “constant and reliable” and suggested placing limits on the number of plants allowed to be built in certain areas, similar to those placed on solar power.

According to Altmaier, in some places local authorities are planning new wind and biogas facilities that will provide 60 percent more energy than what is needed.

Although Altmaier promised to stick to the target of getting 80 percent of Germany's energy from renewable sources by 2050, opposition politicians and some states have accused the minister of putting a “brake” on the government’s ambitious plan.

Without going into detail, the minister suggested tighter controls be put in place to regulate how many and which type of facilities can be built in which areas. Renewable energy facilities should also be planned to coincide with areas where the grid is capable of taking up the electricity.

The most controversial part of this, wrote Die Welt daily newspaper on Friday, is likely to be whether the states are willing to give up their own renewable energy targets, not to mention the revenue from taxes paid on new wind parks and biogas plants.

On Friday, several opposition politicians and representatives from Schleswig-Holstein – which is currently planning a large scale extension of its wind capacity - criticised the suggested reforms as sending a “wrong signal.”

The head of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) faction Ulrich Kelber accused the government of serving lobbyists in the energy industry, whereas Left party chairwoman Katja Kipping described Altmaier’s suggestions as “falling at the feet of the energy companies.”

Even the CDU’s governing coalition partner the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) criticised the lack of concrete plans for reducing energy prices for consumers, an issue which the FDP says the CDU does not take seriously enough.

In recent weeks criticism has been mounting against government energy policy after it was revealed that the current rules exempt bigger firms from paying the renewable energy levy - at the cost of small businesses and consumers.

Industry is getting “discounts that everyone else has to shoulder,” head of Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) Hubert Weiger told the paper.

The Local/DAPD/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:01 October 12, 2012 by pjnt
I am a big fan of nuclear energy. Now that is out of the way... What really gets me is one day we have one set of goals, the next it changes. Then we go back to the first set, then to yet a third idea. I understand a certain amount of fluidity is required to stay current, however, no business can compete, plan and execute goals when the rules of the game are changed by governments faster than I change my socks.

The other side of this is the companies have not changed their goals at all and have just manipulated or influenced the government back to a stance they are happier with. Is big Corp running everything?

Finally, it was announced that our energy bills would be increasing in the new year by at least 50 euros a year to accommodate changes to renewables even though fuel prices continue to drop on average. Do you really think the energy companies will now hold off on this? Really? Do you?
17:04 October 12, 2012 by neunElf
Renewables are not economically viable!

The German people believe in this green nonsense, but don't want to pay for it!

Time to start governing by the head and not the heart.
15:54 October 14, 2012 by truth is treason
Renewable energy does not work in the cold. Industry will have to be cut back in the winter due the renewable not providing enough power.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1345233/Its-use-waiting-turbines-warm-snow-returns.html?openGraphAuthor=%2Fhome%2Fsearch.html%3Fs%3D%26authornamef%3DDavid%2BDerbyshire%2BEnvironment%2BEditor
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