Merkel's coalition to coordinate changes to renewables policy
A week ago, German Environmental Minister Peter Altmaier surprised everyone – including his coalition partners – with his proposals to revise the country's Renewable Energy Act before the upcoming elections in the fall. Yesterday, he announced a roadmap for the coordination of such proposals by mid-March. But despite what one German PV publication claims, support for the Energiewende remains strong.
Just last Monday, Altmaier (CDU) proposed to put a limit on the surcharge that covers the cost of renewable electricity. The proposal not only met with criticism from his political opposition, but also took his own party and coalition partner by surprise.
Now, it appears that Altmaier wants to coordinate his actions with his colleagues over the next two months. Over the next five weeks, he will work with Industry Minister Philipp Rösler (FDP) to come up with a unified concept. On February 14, he will present the concept for a revised Renewable Energy Act (EEG) to environmental and energy representatives of state governments. On March 21, the concept will be passed on to Angela Merkel and the governors of Germany's 16 states.
In practice, all of this coordination is unlikely to produce any outcome. After losing the state elections in Lower Saxony in January, Merkel's coalition no longer has a majority in the Bundesrat or in the negotiating committee, which severely delayed the cuts to support for solar power last year – when the Merkel's coalition did have a majority. In other words, Altmaier is now suddenly taking action probably because he knows he cannot get anything done, so he has nothing to lose.
As readers of Renewables International know, there is a lot of misreporting about the German situation in English, and it turns out that misleading reports are not limited to the foreign press. Berlin's PV Magazine quoted Altmaier yesterday saying that, "The energy revolution is a national effort that we can only fight if we all bring [ideas] to the table." The original German is available at the magazine's sister publication, photovoltaik.eu: "Die Energiewende ist ein nationaler Kraftakt, den wir nur stemmen können, wenn wir alle an einen Tisch holen.“
That sentence could be translated as, "The energy transition is a tremendous national project that we will only accomplish if we manage to get everyone to work together." Specifically, Altmaier does not argue that we need to "fight the Energiewende." At present, no political party officially opposes the energy transition, and only the FDP – Rösler's party – consistently produces proposals to slow down the switch to renewables. (Craig Morris)