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05 May 2009

German Federal Minister Gabriel: nuclear power is incompatible with renewable energy sources

Muenster - In an IWR interview, the German Federal Minister for the Environment, Sigmar Gabriel, has now outlined the future prospects for Germany with regard to renewable energy sources and climate protection. Alongside the successful electricity sector, says Gabriel, the field of renewable heat has now "hit the ground running." The goal is to use the various instruments to promote renewable energy sources in buildings, to whittle down the enormous backlog in renovation and modernization work and thus to realize a 25% reduction in the fossil fuels required for the heating of buildings by the year 2020, he adds. In the biofuels sector, Gabriel sees the future in second-generation biofuels and "not in the rapeseed mill around the corner." As of 2015, the emissions caused by the manufacture of biofuels are to be factored in, and only the actual net contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gases is to be taken into account. Gabriel emphasizes that in the transport sector, the prospects of renewable energy sources and electromobility fit together wonderfully, making the electric car a real zero-emissions vehicle.

Regarding the utilization of wind energy, Gabriel expects offshore turbines with a total capacity of around 10,000 MW to have been installed in Germany's waters by the year 2020, which at the same time signifies an enormous boost for the maritime economy and coastal locations. "Here, we are tapping into an enormous potential for jobs, energy supply security and climate protection," states Gabriel. In the field of research, and in view of Germany's status as an exporting country, Gabriel envisages further development of offshore wind turbines suitable for the global market. "In wind power, Germany is the technological leader, and we want it to stay that way," says Gabriel. Another area of funding focus within the renewable energy research spectrum is the optimization of electricity supply systems, so as to integrate renewable energy sources more effectively. The goal is to establish an innovative, future-proof energy system, with a high share of renewable energy sources. Projects have been initiated, which are intended to demonstrate how electric vehicles can be used for system integration of renewable energy sources.

Gabriel once again rejected the idea of extending the service life of nuclear power plants, stating that an extension would massively hinder the development of renewable electricity generation in Germany, as corroborated by the arguments of electricity suppliers in Great Britain. "Nuclear power is simply incompatible with renewable energy sources," claims Gabriel. "Whether the big old nuclear reactors remain in the electricity market as suppliers and competitors, or whether they gradually disappear from the grid, as contractually agreed upon between the German government and the energy industry, certainly makes a difference."

On the subject of climate protection, Gabriel expects a successor to the Kyoto accord to be negotiated in Copenhagen, which really will restrict climate change, and which at the same time is accepted by all states as fair. While Gabriel says that this two-fold challenge must be met by December, he admits: "It won't be easy." According to Gabriel, the evident antagonism in Germany between emissions trading and the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) is firstly academic, secondly erroneous and thirdly put forward with relish by those who actually don't want either of them. "We need emissions trading, quite literally, so that we can act internationally and on the EU level. This means that greenhouse gases come at a price," insists Gabriel. "The EEG works on a completely different level. It is an incredibly effective instrument, which brings us the boom in renewable energy sources at remarkably low prices." He adds that this has been experienced by all states which have developed and enforced their own versions of the EEG.

The complete interview with Sigmar Gabriel, German Federal Minister for the Environment, can be read in the current IWR monthly report 05/09 "Renewable energy industry".

Download (German):
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Muenster, 5th May 2009

Publication and Reprint free of charge; please send a voucher copy to
the International Economic Platform for Renewable Energies (IWR).

Attention editorial offices: For further questions please contact Mr.
Dr. Norbert Allnoch, International Economic Platform for Renewable
Energies (IWR).

Soester Str. 13
48155 Muenster
Phone: +49 (0)251 / 23 94 6-0
Fax: +49 (0)251 / 23 946-10


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