Environment Minister Presents 10 Point Energy and Environment Programme

Yesterday, Environment Minister Peter Altmaier presented a 10-point programme entitled “With New Energy” for the remaining legislative period until the parliamentary elections in 2013. Not surprisingly, the first point of the agenda is a successful implementation of energy policy shift, which Mr Altmaier calls a key task.

In line with previous comments, Mr Altmaier calls the withdrawal from nuclear power irreversible and says the decision to promote renewable energy was right, given that prices for fossil fuels will rise in the medium and long term and have negative effects on the climate.

Economically Viability and Affordability

However, the energy policy shift had to be implemented in a way that was economically viable and affordable so that German energy prices did not differ significantly from those of competitors for a longer period. Besides, the energy transformation had a social component, Mr Altmaier points.  Hence renewable energies had to be made competitive so that they would not need the feed-in tariffs paid under the Renewable Energy Source Act (EEG) in the medium-term, Mr Altmaier says.

Consensus and Master Plan

To avoid over-capacities, a consensus had to be reached on the amount of renewable energy capacities (in particular in the wind power sector) to be built in the sixteen federal states, as well as agreement on the question where and until when new power cables had to be laid. Since no-one could foresee the technological developments and other factors influencing the energy sector over the next forty years, a master plan or script for the energy policy shift was not possible, Mr Altmaier says in the 10-point paper. Instead agreement on the fundamental principles and on the respective next steps was needed.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency would receive a high priority during the remaining legislative period, Mr Altmaier announces. This topic had so far been neglected but had great potential for reaching the energy goals. Mr Altmaier mentioned efforts to enhance energy efficiency like the recent agreement between the German Government and the German Industry, according to which energy intensive companies have to demonstrate that they have introduced an energy management no later than the end of 2015. Besides, he reiterated his proposal to help low income household to save energy by providing energy consulting.

However, no mention is made with regard to a compromise between Parliament (Bundestag) and the Federal Council (Bundesrat) on the Act on Fiscal Measures Promoting Energy-Efficient Renovations of Residential Buildings. It was the only bill of the 2011 energy legislative package, which the Bundesrat did not approve of. So far the Mediation Committee of the Bundestag and the Bundesrat has not found a compromise on the matter, although all parties emphasise the importance of energy-efficient renovations.

EEG

Regarding the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) that supports renewable energy by stipulating fixed feed-in tariffs, Mr Altmaier announces to propose a procedure for fundamentally amending the EEG (which in its current form entered into force on 1 January 2012) and strategies for the implementation by September. However, Mr Altmaier told the media that he was against taking hasty action. Therefore a bill would probably not be presented before 2013 and had to be decided about by the new government.

From the present point of view, there was no doubt that the goal of a 35% share of renewables in the energy mix would not only be reached by 2020, but exceeded, Mr Altmaier writes in the 10-point paper. The problem was that the expansion partially occured so fast that not only could the expansion of the necessary grids not keep pace,  but there were too little incentives for cost reductions and market integration. Mr Altmaier calls the EEG an inappropriate tool to ensure the competitiveness of the ailing German solar industry, but says from an industry policy point Germany was interested that a powerful solar industry could compete internationally.

Ten Key Points

The ten key points on Mr Altmaiers agenda are as follows:

  1. Successful and efficient implementation of the energy policy shift as a key task of modern environment and economics policy
  2. New impetus for climate protection topics
  3. Consensus on nuclear waste disposal
  4. Improve nature and water protection
  5. Enhance separate collection of recyclables and reusable packaging so that it becomes the main tool of the recycling management and promotes ressource efficiency
  6. Improve protection from electromagnetic fields
  7. Organise the ongoing discussion about unconventional gas and its exploitation with the fracking method in a responsible way
  8. Citizens’ participation and transparency as a precondition for a successful environment policy
  9. Lessons learnt from Rio: New ways in the European and international environment policies
  10. Perspectives until 2030
A reorganisation of the environment ministry (BMU) shall help to achieve the above aims. Three new sub-departments will deal with the matters.

Source: German Government

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