Germany

Germany

Budget cut again

Budget cuts by the German finance minister are likely to hit government spending on wind energy -- already culled for next year by the federal research ministry. A table of provisional budget plans 1996-2000 for energy research spending is included. However, the German parliamentary budget committee has yet to give its report and recommendations on spending.

Budget squeezing by German finance minister Theo Waigel is likely to hit government spending on wind energy -- already culled for next year by the federal research ministry. In May the research ministry announced that spending on wind energy research and development would be cut to DEM 39 million next year, from DEM 43 million in 1996. A provisional budget was set at DEM 37 million for the following three years for wind, with photovoltaics and research into large scale technologies to receive the lion's share of R&D funding in the future.

Now, however, Waigel has slashed the research ministry's entire budget by around DEM 700 million, to DEM 15 billion. In the process the renewable energy and rational energy budget was reduced to just DEM 204 million, compared with DEM 246 million in 1996. Wind's share was sliced to just DEM 35 million.

Before the budget is finally approved, however, the German parliamentary budget committee is due to give its report and recommendations on spending on September 17. Sources in the research ministry are hopeful that at least some of the renewables funding will be returned to the research ministry's budget in an effort to redress the heavy weighting in favour of nuclear fission and fusion.

In the federal government's provisional budget for the Fourth Programme for Energy Research and Energy Technologies, the budget for nuclear fusion would be slightly less than the renewables budget. But a separate programme for research into decommissioning of nuclear power plant would give the sector more cash than the entire spending on all renewables. Between them, nuclear fission and fusion would receive almost three time as much as renewables.

The German wind lobby has reacted with predictable dismay. "It's high time that the allocation of research funds is changed to favour renewables technologies with a real future -- and no longer concentrated on nuclear," says the German wind energy association's Bern Nedderman.

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