Germany could be struck by power blackouts this winter as the country struggles with a shift to renewable energy the economy minister has warned.
Philipp Rosler said Germany is faced with a repeat of the power shortages experienced last year that threatened to plunge parts of the country into darkness.
“Last winter we had a pretty tense situation, and this year we could see the same again, and perhaps even next year as well,” he said in an interview with the newspaper Passauer Neue Presse.
The move away from old forms of energy production has become one of Chancellor Angel Merkel’s key policies, and the government wants four fifths of German energy produced by renewable sources by 2050. To achieve this it has begun to take old fossil fuel power stations offline, and has also committed itself to phasing out nuclear energy by 2022.
Filling the void left by fossil fuels and nuclear power however has already placed a strain on existing capacity in the national grid. During a cold snap in February last year the pressure on electricity capacity in the Hamburg region pushed the grid to breaking point and forced some heavy industry plants to shut down.
Despite significant investment in wind and solar power Germany still faces an energy shortfall, and is also hamstrung by a lack of north-south power lines shifting electricity generated in North Sea wind farms to the industrial centres in the south.
Experts have warned that another hard winter coupled with little sunshine and wind, thus making wind and solar power redundant, could lead to blackouts.
The shift to renewable energy is also taking a toll on family budgets. On Monday Germany’s electrical grid operators announced that a special tax levied on consumers to finance subsidies for green energy would increase by almost 50 per cent.
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