September 3, 2012
Minister Altmaier has clearly stated that Germany’s phasing out of nuclear power is irreversible. He is particularly in favour of renewable energies, as (1) he expects that the prices of fossil fuels will increase in the medium and long term and, (2) fossil fuels emissions are ecologically harmful.
The government’s energy policy now has an explicit foundation. It reasonably assigns energy efficiency an even bigger role in the future energy mix. Altmaier’s pledge to reach a consensus on nuclear waste disposal is to be welcomed but it will be difficult to achieve. As far as the organisation of discussions about unconventional gas and fracking is concerned, the programme needs reworking. Most importantly: (1) by this fall, Altmaier wants to make a “proposal for a fundamental revision of the Renewable Energy Law (EEG)”. (2) He has not ruled out switching from the feed-in tariffs to a quota system to slow down the growth of renewables, but no details have been supplied. We think that the goal of a 35% share of renewables in the electricity mix will be exceeded by 2020, given a share of 25% in H1 2012 already. However, German energy policy urgently requires adjustment. The EEG reallocation charge (EEG-Umlage) will increase to around 6 cents per kWh (2012: 3.59 Ct/kWh) in 2013 and perhaps 8 Ct/kWh in 2014 (own calculations), whereas in 2011 Chancellor Merkel promised a limit of 3.5 Ct/kWh for the future. Due to exemptions for major parts of industry that account for half of German electricity consumption, the EEG charge will be financed predominantly by households. They will effectively subsidise German industry in 2013 to the tune of at least EUR 2 bn via their electricity bills.
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