Germany and France to talk energy

Germany and France will discuss closer co-operation over energy matters in coming weeks and months, said a German economics and energy ministry official, following statements earlier this week by French President François Hollande.

Hollande envisaged forming a joint company to foster the countries’ energy transition, modelled on the European aerospace giant Airbus.

“We welcome the initiative for a closer co-operation in energy,” the German ministry official told Recharge.

“We are very open to discuss this in coming weeks and months,” she said, without giving details.

Both France and Germany plan a rapid expansion of renewables as Germany decided to phase out nuclear power by 2022 and France wants to reduce its nuclear capacity from 75% to 50% of its energy consumption.

Germany currently is discussing how to reform its Renewable Energy Act, or EEG. Economics and environment minister Sigmar Gabriel is slated to discuss ideas for the reform during a major government coalition meeting next Wednesday at Meseberg Castle close to Berlin.

Gabriel by April wants to present an outline of the reform that he earlier said will be brought before parliament before Easter.

After President Hollande’s statement about an “energy Airbus” caused puzzlement in the energy sector on both sides of the Rhine, a senior aide to the Elysée Palace told the Reuters news agency that the cooperation would be mainly in renewables, smart grids, energy efficiency and storage.

French and German research bodies are already co-operating over solar projects.

The Freiburg-based Fraunhofer ISE institute, France’s Institut National de l’Energie Solari (INES) and Switzerland’s Centre Suisse d’Électronique et Microtechnique (CSEM) are working on setting up a solar consortium called X-GW, Fraunhofer ISE head Eicke Weber said, according to French newpaper Les Echos.

The consortium could build a factory for advanced PV modules with a massive capacity of at least 1GW, Weber is quoted as saying.

Weber couldn’t immediately be reached when contacted by Recharge this morning.

Most large German PV module producers have become insolvent in recent years amid a global overcapacity and under the pressure of cheap Chinese competition.