With the Green/Bündnis 90 party back as the third largest party in Germany both the CDU and the SPD may be forced to become serious about their electoral promises regarding more funds to promote renewables. The winner of the election, the CDU, had the least radical plan of the three in connection with changing the conditions for wind energy.

With Helmut Kohl returned to power in Germany with the narrowest of majorities -- just ten seats -- following last month's general election, his party's promises to the renewables lobby might now have to be given serious attention.

In their election manifestos, both Kohl's Conservative CDU and the SPD Social Democrats in opposition stressed they would make more funds available to promote the use of renewables. The SPD had by far the most radical plan, however. It intended to reshape the fiscal system, introducing progressively higher energy taxes while reducing basic tax to achieve an overall unchanged tax burden. In part, the proceeds of the energy tax would have been used to support the expansion of renewable energy. This ambitious scheme will now have to wait.

In the meantime, the new balance of power could mean that Kohl's government might be forced to take its own utterances on more support for renewables more seriously. Certainly, with the major comeback of the Green/Bündnis 90 party as the third largest party, the political pendulum will be drawn towards environmental issues.

Both major parties also vowed that the "energy consensus talks" broken off at the end of 1993 should be continued once the elections were over. The aim is for Germany's industrial and power sectors to reach a joint position on the highly controversial subjects of nuclear power and continuing support for Germany's expensive coal industry. The renewables lobby continues the fight to have a real say in these talks and may well be aided by the stronger presence of the Greens in parliament.