BERLIN, July 17 Germany may need to adjust its
energy efficiency targets but remains committed to the "green
revolution" it outlined last year, the country's environment
minister said on Tuesday.
Peter Altmaier said he wanted to achieve the government's
target of reducing power consumption in Europe's biggest economy
by 10 percent by 2020 but added that Germany must remain
competitive and that power must be affordable.
The minister caused a stir on Sunday by comments to a
newspaper that the target would require an enormous effort and
that he doubted whether it was even possible.
"I said this in order to consider what measures must be
taken to achieve such goals," Altmaier said at a conference in
the German capital on climate change.
"If you have such an ambitious goal, it must be underpinned
by demanding measures," he said, adding that an honest look at
the plans, which he added would strengthen Germany in the long
run, had to take place.
Such comments are something of an embarrassment for
Chancellor Angela Merkel, who abruptly announced an accelerated
exit from nuclear energy last year after Japan's Fukushima
disaster and laid out a vision for a switch to renewable power.
Earlier on Tuesday, Economy Minister Philipp Roesler became
the second cabinet minister to cast doubt on green energy goals,
saying the government should adapt its ambitious renewable
energy target to protect jobs and competitiveness.
Roesler told Bild daily that politicians had to use their
judgement on decisions on energy provision.
"The time frame and goals for the energy switch are there.
But we must adjust them if jobs and our competitiveness are
threatened," said Roesler, head of the pro-business Free
Democrats (FDP) which shares power with Merkel's conservatives.
Merkel's goals are to increase renewable energy to at least
35 percent of power generation by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.
Twenty percent of electricity now comes from renewables, nearly
half of that from wind turbines.
Critics say little has happened since the announcement of
the targets and have warned of power shortages if the government
does not do more to encourage investment in the renewable energy
Thomas Oppermann, a leader for the opposition Social
Democrats (SPD), said the ministers were right.
"The problems the ministers describe are long known. The
coalition's energy revolution is nothing more than rhetoric ...
The expansion of the grid is not making progress, and the
integration of renewable energy is a failure," he said.
"The question of energy costs will decide whether Germany
writes a new chapter of success in industrial history," he said
German media have long warned that power prices could rise
as a result of the energy switch.
Altmaier also told the conference, convened to prepare for a
major UN climate conference in Qatar at the end of the year,
that he wanted measurable progress to be made in Doha.
(Reporting by Markus Wacket; writing by Madeline Chambers,
editing by Jane Baird)