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Merkel must change wind energy aid law, German opposition says

Germany’s opposition Social Democrats and Green Party called for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to make changes to planned renewable energy subsidies to promote onshore wind and repowering projects.

Onshore turbine operators will see aid slide by an additional 1.5 percent in 2012, the Environment Ministry said in a draft law published June 6 on its website. The bonus for repowering, replacing turbines with new models with higher generation capacity, will be limited to units that started by 2001 and pose a problem to the network, it said.

“If you design it like this, then we won’t achieve the potential of renewable energy,” SPD parliamentary leader Frank- Walter Steinmeier said in parliament today.

Germany plans to close its nuclear reactors by 2022 after the disaster at the Fukushima station in Japan stoked safety concerns and helped lose Merkel’s party votes. The government is balancing aid for energy from solar panels and wind turbines with the cost for consumers, who will finance the shift through higher power bills.

“Explain to us how you’ll push for the growth of renewable energy at manageable prices if you continue to treat repowering and onshore wind worse than is necessary,” Juergen Trittin, the floor leader for the Greens, said in a speech to Merkel and fellow lawmakers in Berlin.

Cap on Aid

Trittin and Steinmeier spoke after Merkel addressed the lower house of parliament, where lawmakers will today hold a first reading of 10 energy bills, including renewable energy and the country’s nuclear power exit.

The government doesn’t want aid to the renewable energy sector to exceed 3.5 euro-cents a kilowatt-hour in consumer power bills. Merkel plans to boost renewable energy output to 35 percent in 2020 from 17 percent last year.

Wind turbines made up 6.2 percent of Germany’s power supply in 2010 while nuclear accounted for 23 percent, according to the BDEW utility association.

Germany had 21,607 onshore wind turbines with capacity of 27.2 gigawatts as of Dec. 31, according to the BWE German Wind Energy Association’s website.