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Germany 'plans renewables surge' led by offshore wind

The German government is said to have drawn up plans for an aggressive expansion of renewables capacity as part of an accelerated shift from nuclear power in the wake of Fukushima.

A draft plan by the country’s economy and environment ministries includes a €5bn ($7.2bn) programme for offshore wind backed by state development bank KfW, it is reported.

Designated sites for new wind farms, repowering of existing facilities with more efficient turbines and extra transmission capacity to move wind power from Germany’s north to south are also recommended, along with an overhaul of renewables legislation.

However, the report, which may form the basis for new legislation, is said to warn of opposition from local groups affected by a rapid ramp-up in generation and transmission capacity.

"After the catastrophe in Japan, we will accelerate the fundamental conversion of our energy supply already laid out in the [2010] energy concept," says a draft of the plan seen by Dow Jones as quoted by the Wall Street Journal.

New gas-fired capacity is proposed as a balance for the new renewables capacity and energy efficiency measures will also be ramped up.

Moves to support expansion of Germany’s renewables capacity have been expected since the Fukushima disaster, with political pressure growing on Chancellor Angela Merkel to abandon nuclear power sooner rather than later. She has already mothballed seven of the country's oldest reactors for safety checks.

The government is believed to be analysing an option that would see the offshore wind feed-in tariff raised from €0.15 ($0.21) per kWh to €0.18 per kWh, but offset by a shorter duration of 14 years rather than the current 18.

Earlier this week German environment minister Norbert Röttgen weighed in to support an early phase out of the country’s nuclear fleet and reverse the existing policy.

He said Germany is “correcting” last year’s decision to extend the lifespan of the stations by more than a decade to 2036, a move originally sold to the public as the price of its ambitious renewables targets.