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German energy program benefits offshore wind over turbines based on land

Germany’s energy legislation would benefit offshore wind farms over land-based ones under a government proposal aimed at limiting the cost of new sources of renewable energy as it scraps its nuclear power plants.

Offshore wind park owners will see their guaranteed above market rates decrease starting in 2018, three years later than the government had planned, the Environment Ministry said in a draft law published on its website yesterday. Onshore turbine operators will see the aid they receive slide by an additional 1.5 percent in 2012, according to the document.

Germany plans to close its atomic plants during the next decade after the disaster at reactors in Japan stoked safety concerns and helped lose Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party votes. The government is balancing aid for energy from solar panels and wind turbines with the cost for citizens and industrial users, which will finance the shift through higher power bills.

“The changes in the digression are nothing but window- dressing and cosmetic to pacify the opposition and state governments,” the BWE German Wind Energy Association said on its website. “If the law goes through the upper and lower houses of parliament in this form, it will slow onshore wind energy development.”

Grid Subsidies

Subsidies for onshore and solar power fed into the grid are currently adjusted every six to 12 months to reflect the cost of generating electricity with the technology.

Germany has 27.2 gigawatts of onshore turbines, according to the BWE. EnBW Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG (EBK)’s 48.3-megawatt Baltic 1, the first commercial offshore wind park in the nation, started in May, according to the company.

The bill also increases support for energy efficiency, electric vehicles and power storage technologies as the country seeks to halve its primary energy use by 2050.

The government aims to double funding for research and development into electric vehicles to 2 billion euros ($2.9 billion) until 2014, increase support for energy efficiency in buildings by a third to 1.5 billion euros by 2013 and spend 200 million euros in energy storage projects by that year, according to the draft posted on the government website.

Offshore Ambitions

The German government has said utilities could build 20 gigawatts to 25 gigawatts of offshore wind turbines by 2030. The country’s 17 nuclear reactors have a combined capacity of 20.7 gigawatts.

An Environment Ministry plan to keep a 2 euro cent a kilowatt-hour “sprinter” bonus for utilities with offshore wind parks up and running by 2015 by “strengthens” investment security, said Windenergie-Agentur Bremerhaven/Bremen.

The group, which represents northern German companies in the wind energy industry, said it also supports the option for turbine operators to receive more aid up front, according to an e-mailed statement.

The Environment Ministry’s draft reiterates a call it made last month for aid to the renewable energy sector not to exceed 3.5 euro-cents a kilowatt-hour in consumer power bills. The government wants to boost renewable energy output to 35 percent in 2020 from 17 percent last year.

The draft and nine other energy bills approved by Cabinet yesterday will go to the lower house of parliament for a first reading on June 9. The upper house, or Bundesrat, will vote on the energy plans on July 8, the last day it meets before the summer recess.