German Lower House of Parliament formerly turns its back on nuclear

30. June 2011 | Markets & Trends, Global PV markets, Top News | By:  Sandra Enkhardt / Alan Faulcon / Jonathan Gifford

The government adopted the Renewable Energy Act [EEG] Amendment today, which will abandon nuclear and offer some support for renewable sources.

The German flag.

No increase in solar incentives as Germany turns its back on nuclear. Image: Flickr_jay.plemon.

With votes from the Christian Democratic Union, the FDP, SPD and the Green Party delegates approved the eight bills on abandoning nuclear energy and the further development of renewable energies following some heated debate in the German Lower House of Parliament. However, there was not majority support for Green Party petitions requiring the enhancement of solar subsidies.

"Renewable energies are to succeed on the market," is how German Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety Norbert Röttgen (CDU) described the German Government’s goal for the Renewable Energy Act [EEG] amendment. This morning the German Lower House of Parliament dealt with eight bills on abandoning nuclear energy as well as the further development of renewable energies. They were approved with the votes of the government coalition consisting of the Christian Democratic Union and the FDP as well as by the opposition SPD and the Green Party. Altogether more than twenty simple and several roll-call votes were scheduled.

In an at times heated debate, SPD chairman Sigmar Gabriel accused the government of a "stop-and-go" policy. Nevertheless, this day will make history. "Today is a historic day," said Gabriel with a view toward the renewed resolution on abandoning nuclear energy.

Nonetheless, he reproached the government for pushing such a complicated law like the Renewable Energy Act [EEG] through parliament in just eight weeks. Normally this requires up to one and a half years. “All of the parliamentary opposition groups would like to have seen the coalition government take the appropriate amount of time. This would have made it possible for all of the delegates to appropriately review the legislation. What the government coalition has now submitted is a renewable botch-up law with repairs guaranteed,” remarked the energy expert Hans-Josef Fell from the Green Party.

However, Röttgen was confident that Germany will manage to make the switch to renewable energies. "It is unique and the first time that an industrialized country dares to take this step," declared the Federal Minister for the Environment. However, the Green Party regards the resolutions as being only an intermediate step. "We are really only just beginning," said Renate Künast, leader of the party’s parliamentary group.

Künast highlighted that the government had been forced to back-down from their former policy. She also rejected the notion that renewable energies are too expensive.

During the debate, representatives of the government parties repeatedly stressed that the integration of renewable energies into the market and grid systems needs to be accelerated. "The Renewable Energy Act needs to grow up," said Maria Flachsbarth (CDU).

CDU economic policymaker Thomas Bareiß started a renewed attack on photovoltaic technology. In the debate he said: "Solar, solar, solar – back then the Renewable Energy Act was only put together for solar."

"Subsidizing photovoltaic technology is inefficient, the costs are too high and the share of electricity too small," said Bareiß. A large part of the costs in the amount of EUR 7 billion go to Asia. However, by cutting solar subsidies by up to 33 percent last year the government took a step toward more cost-effectiveness and acceptance for photovoltaic technology. Nevertheless, "the path toward more market and system integration will be painful and trigger debates," said the economic policymaker.

No enhancement of solar subsidies

To the very last the Green Party tried to push through better conditions for photovoltaic technology. However, they were unable to find a majority for the changes requested, which they had in part already introduced in the Environmental Committee on Wednesday. Among other things, the Greens aimed to eliminate the rigid restriction of small photovoltaic systems to seventy percent from the Renewable Energy Act [EEG] amendment – but there was no majority in the Environmental Committee.

The Greens’ other demand, to increase the targets for building additional photovoltaic installations from 3,500 to 5,000 megawatts per year, only met with support from the Left Party. Likewise the majority rejected setting aside more outdoor spaces for photovoltaic systems or an amendment of the internal power consumption regulation. The party then also summarized these points of criticism into a resolution proposal from the Green Party on the Renewable Energy Act [EEG] amendment. As expected the Lower House of Parliament rejected this request with votes from the coalition parliamentary groups of the CDU and FDP.


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