What will Power Germany in the Future? | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 15.08.2003
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What will Power Germany in the Future?

As much of North America experienced its biggest ever blackout on Thursday, Chancellor Schröder met with the bosses of Europe's largest energy concerns to discuss German power. But the environmental minister is wary.


Can renewable energy help Germany avoid power outages like the one that hit New York?

The heads of Germany's top four energy companies met with Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and his economics minister for dinner Thursday evening to discuss how Germany will be powered in the future.

The poignancy of the meeting was increased by the huge power outage across much of North America, which has left millions without electricity from New York City to Toronto.

Most experts think a similar blackout it unlikely in Germany, but recent heat has heavily taxed energy supplies throughout Europe. Though Schröder's talks with the energy bosses were private, the participants already hinted at the direction they were thinking by excluding one prominent politician: Environmental Minister Jürgen Trittin.

The Green Party minister has said again and again that Germany's future is in sun, wind and water power. That runs against the plans of energy concerns like E.On, RWE, Vatenfall Europe and Energie Baden-Württemberg who still deal in traditional energy like coal and nuclear power.

Observers are pointing to a showdown in a not-so-far-off future. Next year, Germany begins a massive restructuring of its power resources. According to a law successfully pushed through parliament by the Green Party, nuclear power reactors will begin to shut down.

Trittin: sun, wind, water are the future

Trittin would like the traditional power resources gradually scaled down in favor of renewable resources. A revamped bill proposal, dubbed the Renewable Energy Law, has already been presented by the environmental ministry.

In line with European Union plans, it aims to double renewable energy's piece of the overall German energy output to 12.5 percent by 2012. By 2020, it should hold 20 percent of the market. Trittin attacked the company bosses for their hesitation on German television Thursday ahead of the meeting.

"There is not a lack of conditions, there is lack of acceptance," Trittin said.

Energy company bosses say renewable energy, though booming in recent years, isn't competitive enough to survive the market over the long-term. Opposition politicians from Germany's conservative and liberal parties have joined them in demanding the Social Democratic-Green Party coalition develop a more practical energy philosophy.

Protestors: 'Chancellor, do something!'

Chancellor Schröder is keeping quiet. His office told reporters that the meeting was nothing more than a get-to-know-you session, as three of the four energy bosses are relatively new to their jobs.

That hasn't stopped environmental groups like Greenpeace from giving them an earful. Before the meeting took place, Greenpeace members protested in front of the Chancellor's Office, unfurling a transparent that read: "Through oil and coal into a climate chaos. Chancellor, do something!"

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