Germany foresees end to subsidies for renewable energy in 4-5 years

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By Teresa Dapp and Andreas Hoenig, dpa

German companies producing electricity from renewable energy sources will have to reckon with an end to their state subsidies in a few years’ time, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Tuesday.

“I expect that renewables will have completely reached full competitiveness in the foreseeable future, meaning in four to five years, and that we then will be in a position to finance renewable energy without additional subsidies,” he told an international energy conference in Berlin.

Altmaier noted that the costs for expanding wind power in rural areas had been cut in half. “Today, the expansion of renewables is possible at only a fraction of what it was in the past,” he said.

His remarks came at a two-day international conference attended by ministers and top-ranking delegations, as well as business and civil society representatives, from 40 countries.

Altmaier said that Germany’s energy transition – the push to cover the country’s electricity needs without nuclear power and increasingly through renewable energy sources – was admired by many countries around the world.

A “business model” should emerge from the energy transformation, he said.

Altmaier said that he wanted to accelerate the expansion of electricity networks in the country.

“We have succeeded in reducing the costs for renewables in the past few years. We have succeeded in better organizing the expansion, making it market-based. Now we must see to it that power lines are built everywhere,” he said. This is a key aim of the federal government, together with the states and municipalities.

“In the past few years we were prepared to accept more underground cabling. We want to accelerate the approval procedures and want to make it clear that the energy transformation can only work if the necessary power lines are available,” Altmaier said.