German renewable energy support defended

EU must relax objections to funding, says Schröder, because transition to solar age will take time

German chancellor Gerhard Schröder yesterday appealed to the European Commission to support his government's plans to support renewable and combined heat and power production so as to double their use over the next ten years. Mr Schröder was responding to ongoing Commission scrutiny of Germany's renewable energy feed-in law and reported "scepticism" over an emergency law passed earlier this year to protect the cogeneration sector from falling power prices.

Both measures are designed to oblige grid owners to pay higher prices for energy generated from renewable sources and cogeneration respectively. After a legal challenge by power firm Preussen Elektra, the measures have received a favourable opinion by the European Court of Justice's advocate general (ENDS Daily 27 October) who said they were not state aid because it was the utility and not the state paying. However, EU competition Commissioner Mario Monti disagrees.

Mr Schröder said: "An industrial nation like Germany can only make the transition into the solar age in the long-term. In our power supply, the classical energy mix of coal, lignite and, for a limited time, nuclear, will continue to play a central role". He added that Germany did not intend to become a power importer after the nuclear industry had been shut down. "That is why I specifically acknowledge the building of new [fossil fuelled] power stations with the most modern technology and leading environmental standards".

Mr Schröder was speaking at the launch of car firm DaimlerChrysler's latest fuel cell powered vehicle in Stuttgart. He praised the German car industry for making energy-saving a driver for innovation.

Follow Up:
German government, tel: +49 30 22 44 20 30, and Mr Schröder's speech; German economics ministry, tel: +49 30 20140.

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