Chancellor Angela Merkel has rebuffed calls from her Bavarian coalition partner, the Christian Social Union (CSU) for a moratorium on the construction of major high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) transmission lines slated to cross Germany in coming years.
“We’re all in agreement that there will be HVDC lines,”
Merkel was quoted as saying during a weekend meeting of her Christian
Democratic Party (CDU) by the AFP news wire.
Merkel stressed that German state premiers overwhelmingly
agreed last year to plans to build the transmission lines that are aiming to
transport energy from coastal and offshore wind parks in the north to
industrial centres in southern Germany, where several nuclear plants will be
switched off in coming years.
Pressured by not-in-my-backyard protest groups and upcoming
local elections in his state, Bavarian state premier and CSU leader Horst
Seehofer last week called for a moratorium on the construction of major
lines crossing his state.
CSU politicians argue that a draft reform to Germany’s
Renewable Energies Act proposed by SPD energy minister Sigmar Gabriel has
altered the business case for the transmission projects.
While plans for the HVDC lines will continuously be
re-examined, it is very likely that the outcome of the verification will be
that plans remain unaltered, Merkel said. A moratorium certainly is no answer
to the lack in approval among the population, she stressed.
“We can’t start only in 2018 to talk about the plan for
HVDC lines,” Merkel said.
Germany is phasing out nuclear power by 2022. Heavily
industrialised southern German states such as Bavaria or Baden-Württemberg are
still dependent on nuclear power for their energy supply, while transmission
capacity from the windy North of the country remains insufficient.
The reaction by the Social Democratic partner in Berlin to
Seehofer’s call for a transmission moratorium ramped up the tone in the
growing conflict within the governing coalition.
“To make the republic crazy and risk the future of the
economy just out of fear of the municipal elections in Bavaria, even for Horst
Seehofer is a hitherto unmatched level of political fury (madness),” SPD
general secretary Yasmin Fahimi told the Spiegel Online website.