16 Mar 2020, 14:04
Rachel Waldholz

Coronavirus no excuse for renewables gridlock, says German env min

dpa / Energie & Management / Der Spiegel

Environment minister Svenja Schulze is calling on German state and federal officials to act quickly to resolve disagreements over the expansion of renewable energy, adding that the current situation threatens the country’s solar industry, newswire dpa reports in an article carried by Energie & Management. Some federal states, along with certain officials in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance, want a rule that would require wind turbines to remain 1,000 metres from residential areas, a regulation widely seen as a major obstacle to the continued expansion of wind power. Meanwhile, officials have not been able to agree on a policy lifting the current cap on subsidies for solar power -- a cap the solar industry says it is likely to hit within months and will choke off much-needed investments. Officials were supposed to discuss the impasse during a meeting between Merkel and the country’s 16 state premiers last Thursday, but they ended up discussing the emergency response to the coronavirus instead. “I can well understand why there was no time yesterday at the conference of state premiers to deal with the energy transition. Nevertheless, it is important that politicians remain capable of acting on this issue,” Schulze wrote in a tweet on Friday. “In the solar industry, serious job losses are possible if the funding cap for solar power is not quickly removed.”

A new federal-state working group has been established to address the dilemma, and Schulze said in her tweet that she expects the working group to announce its initial decisions this month.  The working group will include representatives of the German states, the federal government and parliament, similar to a group that successfully negotiated a CO2 price last year, reports Der Spiegel. The states of Bavaria and Hamburg will lead the working group, Der Spiegel reports.

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