Germany’s energy summit fails to produce results

The positions of both Germany’s Federal Environment Minister, Peter Altmaier (Christian Democratic Union) and his economic counterpart, Phillip Rösler (Free Democratic Party), were already very clear before yesterday’s energy summit: Altmaier is against rapid reform of the EEG (Germany’s renewable energy law); Rösler wants swift changes to photovoltaic, wind and biomass subsidies – preferably before the general election next autumn. It is wrong to press ahead with proposals, which cannot gain a majority, he told German news agency, dpa.

Ironically, while politicians and representatives from industry, employers and unions were present at the energy summit, no one from the renewable energy sector was invited to attend, leaving Altmaier’s renewed proposal to slow the expansion of renewables uncontested. In his view, the development of photovoltaics and wind power should be adapted to the expansion of the electricity grid.

He aims, according to dpa, to provide planning certainty to the renewable sector. As such, he intends to wait for the proposals from the CDU, FDP and the different states, before planning another EEG reform.

As a first step, Altmaier wants to achieve consensus among the German states for more cost efficiency in the development of renewables. Here he referred to a less strong expansion of wind power. Plans for wind parks are said to be 60% above calculated demand and could lead to billions in additional costs, although they might not even be needed, he continued.

Criticism

Germany’s Green party criticized the attitude of Altmaier. "Peter Altmaier is the first Environment Minister, who is grieving over the fact that the development goals for renewable energy are being achieved faster than planned. For an Environment Minister, this is an astonishing position," party leader, Jürgen Trittin told Reuters. In the past, the government had warned of power outages at a nuclear phase out, and now it is warning against too much renewable energy.

Rapid reform

Phillip Rösler, Economy Minister and FDP chairman, further stressed that he wanted a rapid reform of the EEG before the next general election in autumn 2013. He told dpa that the FDP wants an expansion of renewables, but at a lower cost and with more competition.

Regarding increasing electricity prices, both Altmaier and Rösler are in agreement that there must be relief for the industry. They also want to retain the existing exemptions for energy-intensive businesses. This point also drew broad agreement from the business association representatives and trade unions.

According to the Spiegel Online, president of the Federation of Industry, or Bundesverbands der Industrie (BDI), Hans-Peter Keitel, warned against making relief for the industry a scapegoat for the high electricity prices, however. The EEG exemptions for energy-intensive businesses cost €2.50 per household, per month. This is a good contribution to the preservation of industry jobs, said Kietel.

Germany’s transmission provider will announce the EEG allocation for 2013 in mid-October. It is expected to further increase from the current levy of 3,59 euro cents/kWh. Here are many exceptions for the industry, such as the extension of the rules of what is considered to be energy-intensive, and the newly created liquidity buffer, which are largely responsible for the increase.

Translated by Becky Beetz.