Germany reaches deal to boost renewable energy capacity: SPD

BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU and its Social Democrat (SPD) partners have agreed to keep their promise to speed up the expansion of renewable power installations, ending months of wrangling, an SPD spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Renewable energy is one of the most important drivers of Germany’s plans to become a low-carbon economy, part of the country’s commitment to help to combat global warming.

As part of these efforts, the German government agreed in January to plan for additional tenders for 4 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaics and 4 GW onshore wind as well as an unspecified offshore wind energy contribution in 2019 and 2020, on top of regular tenders.

This was designed to help to achieve a renewables rate of 65 percent in the power mix by 2030 compared with 36 percent now, among many other measures. The additional renewables capacity would reduce Germany’s carbon dioxide emissions by 8 to 10 million tonnes a year.

The SPD spokeswoman gave no further details.

She said the agreement on the additional 8 GW tenders was reached late on Tuesday after several high-level meetings in the past few weeks had been deadlocked due to different views on the details of the deal.

“We’ve achieved a breakthrough. The additional renewable tenders can take place,” the deputy whip of the SPD parliamentary faction, Matthias Miersch, said in a statement.

Policymakers in Germany have recently shifted the renewable industry away from generous fixed feed-in tariffs towards auctions for new building permits in order to promote competition.

Manufacturers represented by engineering body VDMA have said the transition to the auctions process might have been too rapid and that this could slow down projects in Germany while other European countries have a steady order pipeline.

Companies in VDMA’s Power Systems division, including Siemens Gamesa, Nordex and Senvion, MHI Vestas and General Electric, are keen to safeguard Germany’s role as a reference market for component manufacturers.

Reporting by Thorsten Severin, writing by Vera Eckert, editing by Jane Merriman