Germany eyes swift cuts in renewable energy subsidies

Jan 19, 2014
Sun rays over a wind and a solar hybrid park on Pellworm island, northern Germany on August 9, 2013

Germany's new energy minister has outlined cuts in subsidies to producers of renewable energy as the country wrestles with soaring costs from its nuclear power exit, according to a document obtained by AFP Sunday.

Opposition MPs and the solar energy sector have already criticised the reforms due to be discussed by conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel's new "grand coalition" cabinet with the Social Democrats next week.

Merkel took the surprise decision in 2011 to scrap nuclear power for renewables in the wake of the Fukushima disaster but has faced pressure over how to pay for the drive.

Generous state incentives for solar, wind and biogas that have driven up prices, now among Europe's highest, would be trimmed from this year under Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel's much-anticipated proposals.

Gabriel, a Social Democrat who is Merkel's vice chancellor and also economy minister, is mulling a new law encapsulating the energy changes that would take effect from August 1.

Speaking on ZDF public television, he sought to dampen any consumer hopes that the proposals would lead to a reduction in , according to early excerpts of the interview to be broadcast Sunday.

"Falling electricity prices there will not be, but we will finally put the brakes on the increase," Gabriel told the "Berlin Direkt" programme.

Cooling towers of E.ON's coal-fired power plant at Scholven in Gelsenkirchen, western Germany, on January 16, 2012

Subsidies for new producers of would be reduced while those for biogas would practically disappear.

Producers would also gradually be forced to sell green energy competitively on the market from next year rather than enjoying priority treatment with guaranteed prices.

Europe's top economy aims to have 80 percent of its electricity consumption sourced by renewable forms of energy by 2050, compared with 25 percent currently.

But Greens party leader Simone Peter told Spiegel Online the proposals "endanger" Germany's transition from , while the far-left Linke party's deputy chief Caren Lay said they rolled back the strategy.

And the association representing the solar energy sector expressed concern after being hit by an initial wave of subsidy cuts in 2012.

Explore further: Solar energy prices see double-digit declines in 2013, trend expected to continue

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Judgeking
3 / 5 (4) Jan 19, 2014
HAHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
goracle
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 19, 2014
HAHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Your carefully-considered scientific rationale leaves us all in awe. /s
orti
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 19, 2014
So much real consumer and taxpayer wealth thrown down the rat hole of leftist fantasy.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Jan 20, 2014
Merkel took the surprise decision in 2011 to scrap nuclear power for renewables

Erm...no. She took the surprise decision to PROLONG use of nuclear power (whose end had been signed into binding law by the previous government - but she chose to ignore that law). That was 3 months before Fukushima happened. Then she 'miraculously' changed her stance (since it would have been political suicide at the time not to). She's just doing what her handlers tell her to...again.

So much real consumer and taxpayer wealth thrown down the rat hole of leftist fantasy.

Compared to what the nuclear/coal/oil industry is getting in subsidies it's a pittance. And renewables already outstrip nuclear as to power generated on such meager subisides. (For comparison: Nuclear got 70cent per kWh subsidies in the first years. Alternative energies are getting 7. Nuclear power STILL gets 5ct/kWh after all these years - not counting "free" (taxpayer-paid) waste management)
alfie_null
3 / 5 (2) Jan 20, 2014
Coal ought to be priced in a way that honestly reflects its impact on the environment. That would at least give alternative (renewable) energy a more equal footing. Subsidies should be ephemeral. In the U.S., we've got this stupid corn ethanol boondoggle. Egregiously inefficient. Not leading to anything. And which will never go away. It's supported by some of the otherwise most vocal Tea Party leaders. Because it sends government dollars into their regions.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 20, 2014
It's sort of bizarre that coal, oil and gas still gets subsidies (and massive tax cuts which are no more than hidden subsidies...to the point where some companies, like Exxon, are paying negative taxes).
You'd think that a technology that has been around for that long would be able to stand on its own. But for some reason alternative energies are demanded to achieve that from a standing start.

People have a weird sense of reality sometimes.
Shakescene21
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 20, 2014
So...Germany is going to phase out nuclear power plants and cut subsidies for renewable-source electricity. Normally this would increase electricity prices, but the Energy minister says this will put brakes on Germany's increasing electricity costs.
Does this mean Germany will import electricity to fill the supply/demand gap? Does this mean imports of French electricity (nuclear generated)?
hangman04
not rated yet Jan 21, 2014
It's sort of bizarre that coal, oil and gas still gets subsidies (and massive tax cuts which are no more than hidden subsidies...to the point where some companies, like Exxon, are paying negative taxes).
You'd think that a technology that has been around for that long would be able to stand on its own. But for some reason alternative energies are demanded to achieve that from a standing start.


Yes but when we think that a decent % of the profits (better said income since companies manage to use it as a tax shield anyway) goes back in pockets of the legislators in the form of campaign sponsorship and other benefits more or less hidden, we start to understand why Governments let this slide. And another reason they stick to coal so much is the fact from all sources of fossils I think it's the most labor intensive. Imagine having to leave without a job several 10ks or even 100ks workers / country, most of which would be incapable to adapt to another field.....