Merkel – German RE no longer 'niche'

Now that they account for a quarter of Germany’s power generation, renewables no longer have a "niche existence" that has to be supported by environmental policies but should be integrated in the energy market as a fundamental pillar, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told parliament.

“The world looks with a mixture of a lack of understanding and curiosity on whether and how the Energiewende (Germany’s move from nuclear to renewable energy) will succeed,” Merkel said in her first major speech of her third term.

“If we succeed, then she (the Energiewende) – and I’m convinced of it – will become another German export hit. And I’m also convinced that if any country can succeed with this Energiewende, then it’s Germany.”

Merkel expressely backed energy minister Sigmar Gabriel, whose outline of a reform to Germany’s Renewable Energies Act (EEG) was approved by the cabinet last week.

The reform outline foresees a cap on RE of 45% of German electricity output by 2025, and of 60% by 2035. It also stipulates a 10% to 20% cut in feed-in tariffs of onshore wind and a yearly cap to its expansion, as well as more hardship for PV.

The ability to plan, as well as cost efficiency, needs to be the yardstick of the further build-up of RE, which also has to be coordinated with an expansion of power grids, Merkel stressed.

The Chancellor also said the reform will be coordinated with a European climate strategy, and has to be accepted by Brussels. The European Commission currently is checking whether exemptions to the payment of a renewables surcharge on power bills for energy-intensive industries are in breach of EU competition rules.

RE groups already have criticised Gabriel’s reform proposals, as have several German states. The energy minister tomorrow (Thursday) will meet with state energy ministers to discuss the measures.