No master plan needed for energy shift: German minister

BERLIN Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:05am EST

Philipp Roesler, German Economy Minister and leader of the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) gestures before a party leaders meeting in Berlin January 21, 2013. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Philipp Roesler, German Economy Minister and leader of the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) gestures before a party leaders meeting in Berlin January 21, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

BERLIN (Reuters) - No master plan is needed for Germany's titanic effort to exit nuclear power by 2022, while taking a step-by-step approach will be more useful, Economy Minister Philipp Roesler said on Tuesday.

Companies and investors have called for a full blueprint on how Germany, Europe's biggest economy, aims to accomplish the shift away from nuclear to alternative energy sources, a decision taken after Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

The costs of the energy shift, estimated at a staggering 550 billion euros ($732 billion), in particular have led potential investors to ask for advanced regulation to better evaluate their risks.

"A plan drawn up today until 2022 will not work. Those planned economies that are not functioning have five-year plans, and to draw up a 10-year plan would be presumptuous," Roesler said at the annual Handelsblatt Energy conference.

Roesler said that all measures needed to be intertwined, pointing to laws to promote renewable energy and network expansion, but he favored a step-by-step approach to maintain flexibility.

He confirmed that the government aims to present a wide-ranging review of the renewable energy act, which through its lavish subsidies has made Germany the world's No.1 solar market but is now burdening consumers with higher power bills.

"Renewables were a niche sector when the law was created. But now we're no longer talking about a niche," said Roesler, who spoke with confidence following a state election on Sunday in which his pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) party fared better than expected.

The total bill for supporting renewable energy rose to 20 billion euros in 2012 from 17.1 billion in 2011, with solar power costing over half the total while accounting for less than 5 percent of the country's energy mix.

"You need to create a more efficient law to boost renewables," Roesler said.

($1 = 0.7510 euros)

(Reporting by Christoph Steitz and Vera Eckert; editing by Jane Baird)