German 'green revolution' may cost 1 trillion euros - minister

Wed Feb 20, 2013 8:10am EST
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BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's transition to renewable energy may cost up to 1 trillion euros ($1.34 trillion) in the next two decades, the environment minister said on Wednesday, piling pressure on his opponents to back plans to cap power price rises before the election.

With an eye on the September vote, Peter Altmaier, one of conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel's most trusted ministers, has outlined plans to rein in subsidies for renewable power which have pushed up consumers' electricity bills.

However, his plans may be doomed as the opposition Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens have reservations and could block legislation in the Bundesrat upper house.

"The costs of our energy reform and restructuring of energy provision could amount to around 1 trillion euros by the end of the 2030s," Altmaier told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

"We have maybe our last big chance to lay the right foundations to make this a success. That means the energy switch must be economically justifiable and must be affordable."

Soon after Japan's Fukushima disaster in 2011, Merkel set out ambitious targets for green energy and accelerated the phaseout of nuclear plants.

Renewables are due to account for 35 percent of German power in 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.

High subsidies have boosted solar power and to some extent wind energy in Germany but have been financed in part by a surcharge imposed on households and many firms who have warned they may grow less competitive in global markets.

To ensure power is affordable, Altmaier wants to cap increases in subsidies for renewable power for two years and suspend feed-in tariffs to new installations.   Continued...

Germany's Environment Minister Peter Altmaier, Lower Saxony federal state premier David McAllister and entrepreneur Edwin Kohl (L-R) pose as they unveil a wooden wind power plant tower in Hanover December 20, 2012. REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen