Germany presents new Ukraine-accelerated renewables plan

The Green Party politician says the government will remove hurdles impeding the advance of renewable energy across Germany, calling a new set of laws the “biggest comprehensive energy package in two decades.”

Germany’s vice-chancellor and minister for economic affairs and climate action, Robert Habeck, on Wednesday presented the Berlin coalition government’s so-called “Easter Package” for renewable energy. 

The Green Party front man hailed the 600-page legislative road map as “the biggest comprehensive energy package in two decades.” he said the plan would streamline existing laws to “turbocharge” the expansion of renewable energy sources “at sea, on land and on roofs.”

Habeck said passage of the package and the expansion of renewables is now “doubly urgent” as the ever-worsening climate crisis is compounded by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — highlighting the threat that fossil fuel dependency represents to Germany’s energy and economic security.

The plan foresees Germany producing at least 80% of its energy with renewable sources by 2030, with a shift to nearly 100% by 2035. In 2020, Germany produced 41.1% of its energy with renewables.

Massive production expansion and consumer protections

Planning and approval procedures are to be simplified to facilitate the quick expansion of both the production and distribution of energy along Germany’s energy grid — which is also slated for expansion.

Part of that plan will require adjustments to several existing energy laws, as well as a study on overall federal energy needs related to the expansion to Germany’s electricity grid.

The plan envisions an annual increase of 10 gigawatts of wind energy production on land (totaling 115 gigawatt by 2030), and 22 gigawatts for solar (215 gigawatts by 2030).

Plans for wind energy at sea are even more ambitious, moving from at least 30 gigawatts by 2030, to 40 gigawatts by 2035 and at least 70 gigawatts by 2045.

Although local communities will be encouraged to expand usage rights for land — even parcels not previously assessed by Berlin — obstacles remain. These are to be tackled in an extra “Summer Package” still to be negotiated by the Cabinet.

The “Easter Package” also contains a number of consumer protections as well as rebates and funding incentives for those households and communities feeding some or all of their renewable energy into the grid.

FDP: ‘Desirable but practically impossible’

Habeck took the opportunity to voice optimism over passage of the new package, singling out the neoliberal FDP for praise and highlighting the “fairness” and “trust” enjoyed in the coalition.

He said he was confident that any differences between the partners could be easily resolved. The environmentalist greens and pro-business FDP campaigned on quite markedly different energy policies before joining the three-party coalition. 

Lukas Köhler, vice-chairman of the FDP’s parliamentary caucus sounded less enthusiastic, noting the need for changes to the package and quipping, “Although a climate-neutral energy system by 2035 is desirable, it is practically impossible in Germany.”

Renewables offer communities a competitive advantage

Habeck also voiced confidence that Berlin would find approval for its plan to dedicate 2% of land to wind energy in its dealings with the country’s 16 state governments.

After stressing the urgency of the plan in light of climate change and fossil fuel independence, Habeck offered one more argument to win over skeptics, namely the fact that those offering businesses access to renewables would have a leg up on other municipalities.

To illustrate, he pointed to Swedish Northvolt’s decision to build a new battery plant near the western shores of Schleswig-Holstein — with access to renewables being the key determiner.

Habeck said other states quickly took notice: “You could say it was a wake-up call for many politicians, who are now seeing what a competitive advantage renewable energy represents.”

Source : DW

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