The country has not managed to match deeds to words on greenhouse gas emissions. In two weeks’ time, there could be a new German government based on a grand coalition between Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats under their new leader Andrea Nahles. The painful negotiations to get to this point have taken four months and have destroyed the career of Martin Schultz, the former SDP leader who resigned this week. The agreement could still be derailed by a vote of the SPD membership, the results of which are due to be declared on March 4. What would a new coalition mean for energy policy? Germany has led the way in rhetoric on energy in the European Union over the past decade in supporting action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but has not managed to match deeds to words. A rapid subsidised growth in renewables has increased costs, especially to German households but the country is failing to meet its 2020 emissions targets. The reason is Mrs Merkel’s knee-jerk reaction to the Fukushima accident in 2011 that led to the acceleration of the closure programme for the country’s nuclear power stations, which will now be eliminated from the system by 2022. Even with a rapid growth in renewables, declining nuclear has left coal as the largest single source of power – more than a third of Germany’s electricity was coal fired last year. It is not yet clear whether the final coalition agreement will accept that Germany cannot meet its 2020 targets. A draft which suggested this has been amended to take out the admission but the point is essentially academic. The target won’t be met, even with the last-minute promise of an extra 8GW of wind and solar that will supposedly be auctioned and built within the next two years.
FT 19th Feb 2018 read more »