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Energy reforms approved

January 22, 2014

The new cabinet of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and center-left Social Democrats (SPD) has endorsed key points of a planned revision of renewable energy law in a bid to limit subsidies and price hikes.

Deutschland Regierung Treffen in Meseberg Angela Merkel und Sigmar Gabriel
Image: picture-alliance/AP

Germany's new economy and energy minister Sigmar Gabriel on Wednesday got endorsement from cabinet colleagues for a rewrite of law regulating Germany's push for energy sources such as wind, solar and biogas.

Opening a two-day cabinet retreat at the government guesthouse Meseberg, near Berlin, Merkel and Gabriel (pictured above), who also chairs the SPD, acknowledged that pricing and start-up problems with renewables would be the focus of their four-year term.

"That's a project for the whole federal government and not just a project of a single minister, Merkel said, adding that Gabriel's revision had her "absolute support."

In the wake of Japan's Fukushima disaster in 2011, Merkel's previous coalition, then comprising her conservatives and liberal Free Democrats reaffirm a German exit from nuclear power generation by 2022.

On Wednesday, Gabriel presented legislative proposals to appease consumers by reining in recent electricity charges, partly on the rise because of the inclusion of surcharges to finance renewables and extra power grid capacity.

Under pressure from three cabinet ministers for farming, development aid and transport, Gabriel agreed to continue to grant incentives for biogas plants with outputs of up to 75 kilowatts per hour.

By 2022 Germany plans to have increased its share of power generated by renewable sources to 40 percent, or 45 percent by 2025.

The current share is nearly 24 percent, although recent figures showing a rise in output from coal-fired power stations alarmed environmentalists.

ipj/kms (APF, dpa)