GE boss undermines German wind business efforts

GERMANY: GE's initiative to improve German and European wind business with new management may have been torpedoed by comments made by the boss of the US giant.

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GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt claimed Germany's Energiewende — the transition to increasing reliance on renewable energy — was "not viable" in the long term.

He underpinned his argument with a comparison of the electricity price paid by a steel works in Texas of EUR 0.05/kWh and a claimed EUR 0.20/kWh paid by a steel works in Germany, stressing "these are facts" in an interview with German business newspaper Handelsblatt published on 21 June 2013.

Four environmental organisations — WWF, Germanwatch, Greenpeace and BUND—  pointed out to Immelt in a letter dated 24 June 2013 that energy-intensive industries such as steel works in Germany currently pay an average price of less than EUR 0.04/kWh thanks to very low wholesale prices, reductions or exemptions from renewables and co-generation levies and network usage charges and compensation for the CO2 emissions certificate component in wholesale electricity prices.

Concerned about views such as Immelt's on the Energiewende programme being spread among the international community, they invited Immelt to meet for a discussion on their point of view on renewables developments in Germany.

Immelt's comments came just a month after his company replaced its general manager for renewable energy in Europe and created the new role of general manager of GE's German wind business.

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