BERLIN, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Investors say enough money will be available for Germany’s 550 billion euro ($730 billion) shift away from nuclear to other sources of electricity, dismissing doubts over funding.
Germany’s decision to pull out of nuclear power, spurred by Japan’s Fukushima plant disaster, has created the need for massive investment to upgrade its energy grid and support the expansion of renewable energy sources, such as wind.
Investors had hesitated to commit funds, due to regulatory concerns, but last week’s move by Japan’s Mitsubishi to invest in German offshore cables has suggested the financing bottleneck is coming to an end.
“I don’t think the issue of financing will be a problem,” Hilko Schomerus, managing director at Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, a big player in European energy infrastructure investments, said at the Handelsblatt Energy conference in Berlin this week.
Energy agency Dena has suggested that up to 42.5 billion euros of investment is needed up to 2030 in distribution infrastructure and equipment such as cables and converters to ensure success in the switch to renewables.
Dutch grid operator TenneT, in charge of connecting offshore wind farms in the North Sea to Germany’s grid, said it is confident it can convince more investors to pump in money, after securing Mitsubishi’s commitment last week.
Mitsubishi is investing 576 million euros ($767 million) in four German cables.
“The ice should be broken now,” said Martin Fuchs, head of TenneT’s German unit TenneT TSO GmbH.
Ulrich Schroeder, head of German state development bank KfW , says prospects for investment in the energy shift are good.
“There is enough capital,” he said, adding about 40 percent of all of KfW’s credit in 2012 had been granted in the field of renewables, climate change and energy efficiency.
KfW last year said it planned to put up about 100 billion euros to finance the shift to renewables.
An obstacle to investment had been uncertainty over who would be liable for any delays in connecting wind farms to the grid so the German government, in November, decided liability risks should be borne partly by taxpayers.
Schroeder still said more had to be done to bring on board other investors such as pension funds and insurers - a view shared by Germany’s Economy Minister Philipp Roesler.
Roesler said he was in talks with the European Commission to create a separate category for energy network investments as part of new risk-capital rules for insurers - called Solvency II - to minimise risks for private investors.
$1 = 0.7530 euros Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Additional reporting by Markus Wacket; Editing by Anthony Barker