Big industry will quit Germany if green energy costs rise -minister

January 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News


* European Commission investigating German green subsidies

* Minister says wants 2030 renewable energy goal

* EU officials to vote on plan to prop up carbon market

By Tom K├Ârkemeier

BRUSSELS, Jan 7 (Reuters) – Germany’s will risk losing its
big industries unless they are sheltered from the cost burden of
renewable energy, its economy minister said while restating his
commitment to a shift to low carbon fuel.

In December, the European Commission, the EU executive,
announced it would investigate Germany’s management of subsidies
and the discounts given to heavy industry on renewable energy
surcharges.

That has raised fears within industry that its costs will
rise, when it is already struggling to compete. The enquiry has
also alarmed environmentalists, who say Germany’s shift towards
renewable energy is in danger.

“We must ensure in Germany that energy-intensive industry
remains unburdened by the EEG law (Germany’s renewable energy
law),” Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel told reporters during a
trip to Brussels to meet Commission officials.

“Anything else would result in us de-industrialising
Germany. This is not an exaggeration. Europe cannot have an
interest in damaging German industry.”

The European Commission is investigating the waiver of green
charges for thousands of intensive energy users because of
concerns it is unfair to others that have to pay them.

Germany has acknowledged there must be reform, but also says
industry must be sheltered from energy costs, which are of
particular concern in Europe when the United States is
benefiting from cheap fuel because of its shale gas revolution.

Brussels policy-makers have also launched a debate on wider
energy and environment policy and are expected to publish
discussion documents later this month on goals for 2030 to
succeed a set of 2020 green energy targets.

Gabriel, who has responsibility for energy as well as the
economy, is among a group of eight EU ministers to have signed a
letter urging the European Union to set a 2030 goal for
renewable energy use, as well as a target to cut carbon
emissions.

For 2020, the European Union has a renewable energy and a
carbon-cutting goal, but some nations such as Britain, and
energy companies such as Germany’s E.ON, say a single
goal is more effective.

Britain is particularly keen for a relatively high
carbon-cutting target, which would help to support
emissions-free nuclear generation.

The German government in addition wants a renewables goal to
help it continue with its Energiewende, or shift away from
nuclear power to renewable energy, such as wind and solar.

A strong carbon market would also help that transition,
although concerns from German heavy industry that it would drive
up costs meant that until last year’s German elections, Germany
failed to back EU policy to prop up the EU Emissions Trading
Scheme (ETS).

EU officials are expected to vote on a plan to remove some
carbon allowances from the oversupplied ETS on Wednesday and
Gabriel said he now backed a stronger market.

“We must get emissions trading back on track. If CO2
certificates are cheap, coal power stations are cheaper than
modern gas-fired power plants. We must change this,” he said.

(Writing by Barbara Lewis and Sarah Marsh; Editing by Anthony
Barker)

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