Doubts Rising over German Switch to Renewables

By David Crossland, Spiegel Online:

Germany’s revolutionary switch to renewable energies is stalling and the country’s new environment minister has now admitted as much by casting doubt on the ambitious goals set last year. Media commentators say that he and the rest of Chancellor Merkel’s government must do more.

Chancellor Angela Merkel outlined a grand vision for an energy revolution a year ago, shortly after her government had decided to shut down all nuclear reactors by 2022 in a spectacular about-face following the Fukushima accident.

Germany was to put itself at the forefront of the fight against global warming by radically expanding the use of renewable energy to 35 percent of total power consumption by 2020, rising to 80 percent by 2050. Currently, it represents 20 percent of the country’s energy mix.

But now two ministers, Environment Minister Peter Altmaier and Economy Minister Philipp Rösler, have cast doubt whether the targets are reachable and said their priority is to make sure that electricity prices don’t rise too much.

Altmaier, a close ally of Merkel who took over the ministry after his predecessor Norbert Röttgen was sacked in May, on Sunday cast doubt on whether Germany will be able to cut its energy consumption by 10 percent by 2020 as planned — a precondition for reaching the 35 percent renewables target that year.

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