SPD to make energy efficiency a post-election priority, warning of early coal phase-out
Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) are to make energy efficiency a priority for energy policy in the coming legislative period, Hubertus Heil, deputy chairman of the SPD’s parliamentary group, said during a speech on his party’s energy policy ambitions after the general elections in September. “Germany has to become the most energy efficient country in the world,” Heil said, adding that this would also mean modernising conventional power plants. He warned that Germany had to retain its industrial basis and maintain acceptance of the energy transition among affected population groups, citing political disaffection in the United State’s deindustrialised “rust belt” as the result of a badly managed transformation. Heil said the country still needed conventional power plants for the foreseeable future, although their owners were already reconsidering continuing their operation due to dwindling profitability. He rejected the idea of a fixed coal phase-out timetable, saying a clear structural change strategy was needed first. The Energiewende’s “true test” would come in the 2020s, when the last nuclear plants will be shut down and a “tough transformation” set in, adding that Germany could not expect to reap an economic return from the switch to renewables before the early 2030s – “if we’re lucky.”
For background, see the CLEW dossiers Vote2017 – German elections and the Energiewende and The Energiewende and Efficiency.