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28 Jun 2021, 13:49
Edgar Meza

New RWE head calls for "urgent" removal of hurdles for rapid renewables expansion

Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung

The new CEO of Germany's largest energy company RWE, Markus Krebber, expressed hope that Germany’s next government will quickly clear hurdles currently hampering the rapid expansion of renewable energy sources, the country’s electricity grid and the development of a hydrogen economy. “Everyone wants climate protection, and everyone wants Germany to remain industrially competitive,” Krebber told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. “But nobody wants to have large-scale facilities close by.” A political discourse is therefore necessary to resolve the conflicts in Germany’s energy transition, he stressed. The rate of expansion in Germany has to be more than doubled if the country is to achieve its climate protection goals, he said. While RWE remains largest emitter of CO2, it is undergoing a massive transformation itself, Krebber added, noting that the company had “a very clear roadmap on how we can become climate neutral by 2040." This required high investments in the new technologies and an expansion of wind and solar power as well as corresponding storage capacity "as quickly as possible." RWE is shutting down a seven coal-fired power plants in the Rhineland region in the next 18 months, with Krebber adding that more renewables meant fossil fuel power plants would be forced out of the market on their own.

 “Above all, we urgently need more space for the construction of wind turbines, not only at sea, but also on land," Krebber warned, adding that the average of five to seven years it takes to get approval for an onshore wind farm in Germany is "way too long.” A failure to ensure sufficient electricity could lead to “creeping de-industrialisation" in Europe, he said. "Wind and sun alone are not enough if we switch off coal and nuclear power. We will therefore need very high backup capacities, especially in Germany, and at the moment these are gas power plants.”

The expansion of renewable power capacity has grappled with major difficulties in Germany in the past years, with the most important sector onshore wind experiencing particularly high hurdles to its growth. All of the country's leading parties' top candidates for the upcoming elections in September said it was necessary to speed up the renewables roll-out with more rapid approval procedures and cut red tape in order to stay on track with energy transition targets.

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