12.02.2013
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Integrating power markets

Germany reaches out to neighbors

The Germans increasingly face criticism – not always fairly – for "going it alone" with their energy transition. Perhaps as a reaction to the charges, the Germans have reached out in recent weeks, with agreements having been announced with France and the Netherlands.

It may be a lot of hot air, but it may also lead to something. In meetings at the beginning of the month, German Environmental Minister Peter Altmaier and Economics Minister Philipp Rösler met with Dutch Economics Minister Henk Kamp to intensify the already close energy connections between the two countries.

The two countries plan to investigate how plants in the Netherlands can be used to help provide power in Germany, when not enough solar and wind power are available. Likewise, the Dutch are increasingly importing large amounts of inexpensive electricity from Germany, mainly due to wind and solar production, providing the Netherlands with relatively inexpensive green power funded by German ratepayers. At the same time, Dutch power plant operators face similar problems as those in Switzerland, Poland, and the Czech Republic, where German green power is increasingly offsetting conventional power production – and cutting into the bottom line of conventional energy providers in those countries.

 - German Economics Minister Philipp Rösler (right), shown here with former Environmental Minister Rüttgen, recently visited the Netherlands to intensify cooperation in the energy sector between the two countries.
German Economics Minister Philipp Rösler (right), shown here with former Environmental Minister Rüttgen, recently visited the Netherlands to intensify cooperation in the energy sector between the two countries.
Thomas Köhler/photothek

In similar news, France and Germany also signed a declaration to intensify cooperation in the energy sector. The agreement was reached during the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty. The two countries reportedly aim to coordinate their future energy policy decisions not only with each other, but also with their neighbors so that any resolutions – such as for capacity markets – will not be made in isolation.

While Germany's neighbors to the East have mainly been critical of the Germany's Energiewende, its neighbors to the west have been more conciliatory. While the Dutch benefit from lower power prices and the French are major importers of power from Germany during times of peak demand (essentially meaning that Germany helps prevent power outages in France owes parent, Belgium also shut down two of its seven nuclear reactors this summer, making it more reliable on our imports from Germany, as a recent blog post by the European Wind Energy Association explained. (Craig Morris)

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