The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Wind Subsidy Cuts Could Thwart Germany's Renewable Energy Revolution
Germany's energy minister is expected to propose cuts to renewable energy this week, despite the country's standing as the leader in solar less than two years ago and its record-breaking day for wind power last month.
Leaked documents, believed to be prepared for a conference spanning tomorrow and Thursday, show that Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel wants to cut aid for onshore wind turbines by as much as 20 percent in 2015, compared to last year's funding, Bloomberg reported. This comes about half a year after the country's former environmental minister said solar subsidies would be scrapped by 2018.
Gabriel says the cuts are necessary as Chancellor Angela Merkel tries to pay the costs associated with her plan to close the country’s nuclear plants in favor of renewables.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Gabriel wants to limit wind-turbine subsidies to no more than 9 euro cents per kilowatt hour in 2015 and halt expansion to 2.5 gigawatts (GW) a year. Developers would get the current subsidies if their units are authorized before Jan. 22 and enter operation this year, according to the plan.
Though General Electric (GE) produces components for wind energy, a company official said he agrees with reducing subsidies for the industry.
“Germany should focus on innovation rather than subsidies and building," Stephan Reimelt, GE’s head of energy in Germany, said. "There is $230 million euros of [research and development] budget for this space and $20 billion euros of subsidies for renewables.”
As Europe's top economy, Germany maintains the goal of getting 80 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2050. Today, that figure is about 25 percent.
Germany was the world’s biggest solar market in three of four years 2009 to 2012. Solar installations dropped from 7.6 GW to 3.3.
“Expanding solar energy into a key pillar of the energy supply is key for climate policy and by now affordable,” Carsten Koernig, head of the BSW-Solar lobby, told Bloomberg.
Koernig is calling for gradual subsidy cuts, so the government doesn't “choke off” the market. Meanwhile, Sylvia Pilarsky-Grosch, president of Bundesverbandes WindEnergie, said the proposed cuts would put a halt to an "energy revolution."
"The acceptance (of renewable energy) by the people is enormous, the demand for 100-percent renewable power is growing," she said. "To successfully continue on the path ... we need a courageous policy," Pilarsky-Grosch said in a statement.
"The proposals of the minister of energy are going in the wrong direction. The energy revolution is liable to be thwarted."
Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
by Jordan Davidson
Taking action to stop the mercury from rising is a matter of life and death in the U.S., according to a new study published in the journal Science Advances.
By Alisa Opar
For Chinook salmon, the urge to return home and spawn isn't just strong — it's imperative. And for the first time in more than 65 years, at least 23 fish that migrated as juveniles from California's San Joaquin River and into the Pacific Ocean have heeded that call and returned as adults during the annual spring run.
By Jessica Corbett
Dozens of students, parents, teachers and professionals joined a Friday protest organized by Extinction Rebellion that temporarily stalled morning rush-hour traffic in London's southeasten borough of Lewisham to push politicians to more boldly address dangerous air pollution across the city.
Jose A. Bernat Bacete / Moment / Getty Images
By Bridget Shirvell
On a farm in upstate New York, a cheese brand is turning millions of pounds of food scraps into electricity needed to power its on-site businesses. Founded by eight families, each with their own dairy farms, Craigs Creamery doesn't just produce various types of cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss and Muenster cheeses, sold in chunks, slices, shreds and snack bars; they're also committed to becoming a zero-waste operation.
By Jessica A. Knoblauch
Summers in the Midwest are great for outdoor activities like growing your garden or cooling off in one of the area's many lakes and streams. But some waters aren't as clean as they should be.
That's in part because coal companies have long buried toxic waste known as coal ash near many of the Midwest's iconic waterways, including Lake Michigan. Though coal ash dumps can leak harmful chemicals like arsenic and cadmium into nearby waters, regulators have done little to address these toxic sites. As a result, the Midwest is now littered with coal ash dumps, with Illinois containing the most leaking sites in the country.