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EU jabs at German renewable energy law



The EU competition commission is reviewing the law on clean energy in Germany, over claims it contrasts with European competition legislation, according to Der Spiegel magazine.

Germany’s renewable policy is often lauded as a role model for other countries, as the clean energy industry has experienced incredible growth since the introduction of state subsidies.

However, according to Der Spiegel, the Renewable Energy Sources Act has come under fire for violating European competition law, and is currently being scrutinised by the EU commission.

In particular, exemptions for about 4,500 energy intensive firms from charges levied on power users has been pointed out as unfair with regards to competition rules. If breaches are found, companies might have to pay back millions of euros.

Germany planned a phasing out from nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster occurred in Japan in 2011, and many reactors have already been switched off.

However, by eliminating a low-carbon source of power, the country has had to rely on fossil fuels. In fact, it possesses six of the 10 most polluting plants in Europe, according to one source.

To meet its carbon reduction targets, Germany has tried to boost the renewables sector, which grew by over 25% in 2012 and created over 300,000 jobs, thanks to the Renewable Energy Sources Act.

Der Spiegel reported that the EU investigation would start on Wednesday. According to Reuters, a representative for the commission declined to comment on the review.

Germany will hold elections in September and current chancellor Angela Merkel said that if she is re-elected, she would reform energy subsidies to decrease pressure on consumers.

Further reading:

Germany’s solar subsidy reforms ‘a great success’, says energy minister

Germany sets solar benchmark over sunny weekend

Surviving without nuclear power

The Guide to Limitless Clean Energy 2013