Germans support for renewables strong ahead of elections

An overwhelming majority of Germans continues to back the expansion of renewables and most are also willing to pay for it, a new poll for the Agentur für Erneuerbare Energien (AEE) think-tank shows just weeks before general elections on 24 September.

“The results of the poll prove how broad the societal consensus is that supports the Energiewende (energy transition) in Germany,” says Nils Boenigk, deputy managing director at AEE.

Sixty-five percent out of 1,016 people polled in July said an increased build-up of renewables is “very or extraordinarily important”, while another 30% think it is “important”. Only 4% of those polled said the renewables expansion is “not so important” or “not important at all”.

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“Ninety-five percent is a clear signal to the next federal government to push through the expansion of renewable energies with determination,” Boenigk says.

Angela Merkel after the election is likely to remain Chancellor of Germany, but it is unclear under what type of coalition.

If her Christian Democrats (CDU) were to enter a coalition with the free-market Free Democrats (FDP), who recently have been regaining strength, subsidies for renewables could be subject to much stricter scrutiny or abolished altogether. Such a centre-right coalition currently has a majority in opinion polls.

Two-thirds of the respondents in the AEE survey also said they would accept renewable energy plants within a five-kilometre radius of their homes, with the percentage rising among residents of areas that already host RE installations nearby.

Although the cost of the financing of renewables has been subject to frequent debates in the German media, 48% of those polled said a current average subsidy of around €20 ($23.60) per month for the RE expansion in a three-person home is adequate, while 8% would be willing to pay even more.

The build-up of renewables in Germany is subsidised via a surcharge on consumers’ electricity bills that has been increasing in recent years as a result of shortcomings in the pricing mechanism of wholesale electricity markets.