Rhein on Energy and Climate

Germany is about to lose its image as the most climate-friendly EU member country.

The precipitated closure by 2022 of all nuclear power plants has led to a costly expansion of PV and wind power capacity, fed by exorbitant feed-in tariffs for widely scattered small-scale electricity producers. The German support regime for PV power generation has become the most costly in the world, causing electricity rates for households and normal business to soar out of proportion and leading to rising complaints from industry about its international competitiveness.

The government has failed to coordinate the expansion of solar and wind power generation with that of the grids by lowering the costly incentives for solar and wind generation capacity. The improvement and expansion of its grid must have absolute priority over that of additional PV or wind-power capacity.

The government should also stop resisting EU proposals to withdraw C02 surplus emission certificates from the market in order to raise the abysmally low C02 price and encourage investments in low emission technologies.

The same goes for the reservations about much stricter car Co2 emission standards – of only 70g/km by 2025.

The latest absurdity concerns the 2012 EU energy efficiency directive,which obliges members states to reduce their energy consumption by 1.5 per cent annually until 2020.

Instead of taking effective measures to reduce excessive energy consumption, e.g. by massive thermal upgrading of its building building stock, which accounts for 40 per cent of total energy consumption, the government hopes to get away with measures that have been taken years ago and are unrelated to higher energy efficiency like highway user fees for trucks, fees for grids use, electricity tax or the law on renewable energy.

Germany needs a thorough debate on how to maintain economic competitiveness with much lower Co2 emissions, after the last nuclear power plant will have been shut off in 2022.

It should phase out its expensive subsidies for renewable energies and focus on enhancing energy efficiency.
The building stock offers the widest scope for both lower energy consumption and higher employment.

Eberhard Rhein, Brussels.

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