German parliament plans to drastically cut funding for energy research
Tagesspiegel Background / Clean Energy Wire
The German government majority in the federal parliament (Bundestag) late last year decided to drastically cut future funding for energy research, reports Susanne Ehlerding in Tagesspiegel Background. The biggest reduction is planned for 2021, when funds the administration can appropriate will amount to ten million euros, instead of 105 million euros as previously planned. The plenary had adopted the decisions taken by MPs from Germany’s government coalition of Conservatives (CDU/CSU) and Social Democrats (SPD) in the budget committee in November 2019, writes Ehlerding. In a separate article, budget policy spokesperson of the CDU/CSU group Eckhardt Rehberg told Tagesspiegel Background that the economy ministry gauged the remaining funding as sufficient and parliamentarians agreed with this assessment. Research results have too often simply been shelved, and thus the future goal was not just research for research’s sake, but the implementation of more real-life projects, said Rehberg – including the government’s so-called “regulatory sandboxes for the energy transition”. In sum, funding for such projects and traditional energy research will even increase, the economy ministry told Tagesspiegel Background.
Chemicals industry association VCI criticised plans to cut funding. “In this way, politicians are cutting funding for important ongoing research programmes, which might thus dry up,” said managing director Wolfgang Große Entrup. “This also puts the energy transition as a whole at risk, for which we need innovations that cannot be achieved without such research.”
The German energy research funding is laid out in government programmes, with the seventh and latest presented in 2018. It stipulates about 6.4 billion euros for 2018-2022. Since the first programme in 1977, the government has funded more than 17,300 projects with more than 12 billion euros, says the economy ministry.