Energy sector relieved after Germany appoints new state secretary

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The energy sector is relieved after Germany’s appointed new state secretary, putting an end to year stagnation. [wsf-s]

Germany’s economy and energy minister Peter Altmaier on 9 January appointed municipal utility top-manager Andreas Feicht as the new state secretary for energy, putting an end to an embarrassing, nearly year-long void that has stalled Germany’s energy agenda.

Four stakeholders from Germany and Europe have reacted positively to the appointment, telling EURACTIV they expect Feicht to provide a new impetus to the country’s energy transition.

The move ended a key staffing issue that has tainted Altmaier’s tenure since he took over the ministry in March 2018. Feicht will take up his new role on 1 February, the same day that Germany’s coal commission is scheduled to release its much-awaited roadmap for the country’s coal phase-out.

Feicht’s predecessor Rainer Baake abruptly quit last March over a major disagreement with the new government’s energy and climate plans. In his resignation letter, he expressed “bitter disappointment” that the new government was “missing out on the opportunity to thoroughly modernise Germany’s economy” and that those who wanted to preserve old and climate-damaging structures had prevailed.

Because of his expertise and his key role in the country’s energy policy, Baake was seen as the mastermind of Germany’s energy transition, also known as the Energiewende. He left for a two-year world trip. 

Following are comments from energy stakeholders to EURACTIV: 

WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson:

“We welcome the appointment of Andreas Feicht to the position of state secretary for energy in the German Economics Ministry. His appointment will bring much-needed stability after the year-long search to replace his predecessor. Through his previous role as chairman of the board of the local utility in Wuppertal, Mr Feicht has extensive experience in the market and system integration of renewables. We hope that he can help navigate Germany through some tough projects like phasing out coal and building out the electricity grid”.

Matthias Zelinge, energy expert at VDMA, the Mechanical Engineering Industry Association

“The appointment of Mr Feicht as secretary of state, who will again deal exclusively with energy policy, sends an important signal that the energy transition should not slow down. Innovativeness and cross-sector system thinking are essential to switch from an energy-only approach to a real energy transition scheme. There are many signs that he combines both. He and his team are now facing the urgent task to set up the political and regulatory framework for achieving the 2030 climate and energy targets, and this should be done quickly. One can only wish Mr Feicht a quick and smooth start”.

EFET (The European Federation of Energy Traders):

“EFET Germany is pleased that Mr Feicht, who has real on-the-ground experience, enters the ministry of economy and energy. Through his day-to-day business, he gained an experience that reaches all stages of the value chain. We hope that in his new role he will focus on the core issues of energy trading (undistorted markets, technology openness, free pricing, accelerating the convergence of EU energy markets with price zones as large as possible) and keep the focus on the market.”

Claudia Kemfert, energy expert at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW):

“Andreas Feicht knows his way around in the decentralised, municipal energy transition and he can certainly provide important impulses for a successful continuation of the energy transition. After a long standstill in the field of the energy transition, things can now move forward, and there is much to do: Instead of pulling the brake on the renewable energies, incentives should be created for the development of a decentralised energy production that is close to customers. That includes incentives to improve load management, decentralised smart grids and storage. In addition, the coal phase-out should start today and be completed by 2030. Energy-efficiency measures in the building sector should be accelerated as well as the path towards a sustainable transport transition, which would mean the abolition of the diesel tax relief and the introducton to an electromobility quota. Only then would our climate and Germany as a industrial country have a sustainable chance.”

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