In anticipation of an eventual resumption of the "energy consensus talks" in Germany, the federal renewable energy association (BEE) has prepared a strategy for the next round of negotiations. It is calling for an "integrated concept" for renewables to contribute 10,000 MW, with the different technologies complementing one another. The BEE's suggested market introduction programme to achieve the 10,000 MW goal would run for five to seven years. The association describes its plan as a "flexible and finely-tuned combination of support measures." These include increased payment for renewables under the electricity feed law (EFL), capital subsidies provided by regional government, and shared grid connection costs. Under the scheme the minimum EFL rate for wind and solar would be raised to 95% from 90% and renewables power plant not in a position to operate economically would be eligible for further subsidies. The BEE says: "The 10,000 MW programme should provide a framework in which all renewables can achieve an income which covers their full cost of production."
The entire programme would cost DEM 3.5 billion, some DEM 0.5 billion a year over seven years. The BEE anticipates that 10,000 MW of nominal renewables capacity would replace at least 5000 MW of coal or nuclear capacity. The cost of the programme is not alarming compared with subsidies to the fossil fuel power industry. The subsidy for German steam coal, raised through the Kohlepfennig levy on electricity prices to fire 33,172 MW of hard coal fired power station capacity, amounted to around DEM 5.3 billion in 1993 and DEM 5.6 billion in 1992.
Whether these facts and figures will ever come to the fore remains an open question. A revival of the consensus talks is expected soon, but it is not sure if the BEE's renewables strategy will be allowed onto the negotiating table. The talks, which broke down in October 1993, were started to address the future of nuclear power in Germany and the country's expensive coal production. So far they have only driven energy policy into a dead end.
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