2013 elections

What now for Germany?

Jörg-Rainer Zimmermann, 17 Oct 13
The German election campaign badly damaged the image of efforts to switch to renewables. Yet current studies show that renewables create huge amounts of value added – and are popular with the public. Will the new German government act more wisely now that the FDP is no longer involved?

Germany isn’t going to stay on track, and will instead halt its switch to renewables. That, at least, is what many European advocates of renewable energies fear as a result of the acrimonious election campaign that started early this year. Even the US media reported on how Germany seems to be having a problem financing the transformation of its energy system. The debate on the cost of renewables was fuelled by the classically liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), the conservative Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) and a think tank called the Initiative for a New Social Market Economy (INSM), and has had a long-lasting negative impact all over the world. The discussion saw arguments being twisted and the public misinformed, while the benefits of solar, wind and other renewables were swept under the carpet. And the debate is not over yet – the election results may be in, but the amendment of the Renewable Energy Sources Act is still on the “to do” list.

As environment minister in the last administration, Peter Altmaier immediately jumped in, talking about the huge costs of the switch to renewables. He said the process could cost up to EUR 1 trillion, sending ripples of shock across the country. Meanwhile, the FDP was threatening a moratorium on all renewables expansion, and there was speculation on an “electricity price brake”, which would keep the Renewable Energy Sources Act surcharge at this year’s level in 2014 and limit it to an increase of 2.5 percent in the following years.

This is an abridged version of the article – the full text is available in new energy issue 05/2013

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