Philippe Martin is an important man. As France’s new environment minister, he occupies a key post in a government that will be pivotal in determining the EU’s post-2020 climate and energy policy.
While no official position will be presented before the elections, there are little doubts that Germany will come out in favour a binding 2030 renewable energy target – which is critical for investor confidence in the wind energy sector – but the UK is officially against. France currently supports such a target but only at a later stage, after a greenhouse gas reduction target is in place.
The French government needs to realise the importance of setting three targets – for renewables, greenhouse gas reduction and energy efficiency – simultaneously, so that they can work together and mutually reinforce each other. Additionally, an ambitious three target package would highlight the EU’s leadership at the 2015 UN climate change meeting in Paris.
Headlines in the German media have said recently that Germany’s offshore wind sector could be facing support cuts, on top of suffering from the already costly grid connection delays. So what is the future of German offshore wind power? We spoke to Andreas Wagner, CEO of the Offshore Wind Foundation (Stiftung Offshore-Windenergie) and part of the team negotiating with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to try and find out…
EWEA Germany’s Environment Minister Peter Altmaier has proposed to substantially change the law for financial support for renewable energy in Germany. Could the offshore wind industry be affected by the same retroactive changes we’ve seen in other EU countries?
Wagner On 21 March, Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed all options to change the EEG-law [the current law supporting renewable energy – ed] with the Prime Ministers of the 16 German Länder. As a result of this so-called ‘energy summit’, we will definitely not face retroactive changes for projects for which legally binding contracts have been signed. I doubt if other changes in the EEG will or can be made before the German federal elections in September.
EWEA What were the arguments raised with Chancellor Merkel?
If all the costs of fossil fuel power generation were detailed in German power bills they would exceed the costs of renewable energy “by a wide margin”, a study by Greenpeace Energy Germany and the German Wind Energy Association (BWE) says.
Currently German power bills clearly outline the cost of the EEG – the support that is channelled to renewable energy and charged to the consumer as a levy – but the costs of conventional fuels are hidden. “State incentives for nuclear and coal are sometimes part of rules that increase the price of power and sometimes part of government budgets. In both cases consumers cannot directly see the full cost in their power bills,” the report says.
In 2012 the EEG levy cost the consumer €c3.59 per KWh, while the report estimates that if there were a similar levy for fossil fuels it would cost €c10.2 per KWh – almost three times as high as the EEG.
Freezing temperatures in both Belgium and Germany have put both countries’ power systems to the test this week, but neither country has experienced electricity blackouts despite the lack of nuclear power.
Two of Belgium’s seven nuclear reactors – Doel 3 and Tihange 2 – were switched off this summer, following the discovery of cracks, cutting 2,000 MW of electricity-generating capacity from Belgium’s electricity network. Even without this nuclear capacity online, the network survived this winter’s peak electricity demand of 13,166 MW on 17 January, L’Echo, a Belgian newspaper, reported.
Belgium’s electricity supply is guaranteed by a small amount of energy imports – including gas from the Netherlands and solar and wind from Germany – and a diverse energy portfolio, one in which renewable energy has a rising share, the paper said.
Turbine blade in front of the Reichstag
A massive wind turbine blade was this weekend set up in front of the German parliament by the German Wind Energy Association (BWE) to make a point: more renewable energy is not the only reason behind electricity price rises.
Debate in the German media and political circles is raging on the rising cost of electricity due to the increasing cost of the Renewable Energy Source Act – or Erneubare Energien-Gesetz (EEG). The EEG was designed to fund Germany’s transition to renewable energy, accelerated following the Fukushima nuclear disaster and consequent shut down of nuclear power planned for 2022.
“With this action we want to clarify the facts for the consumer…on top of that we want to point out that the positive effects of renewable energies are completely absent from the public debate,” BWE President Hermann Albers said.