German government criticised for energy transition

Protesters gather in Germany's government district to rally for getting the Energiewende back on track. The plan, originating in the 80s, is intended to promote a transition to renewable energy sources. Berlin 2014 [Ruben Neugebauer/Campact]

Protesters gather in Berlin's government district to rally for getting the Energiewende back on track. The plan, originating in the 80s, is intended to promote a transition to renewable energy sources. Berlin, 2014. [Ruben Neugebauer/Campact]

In a recent report, Germany’s Federal Court of Auditors issued sharp criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “Energiewende’, a project aimed at transitioning to renewable energy. The government says the auditors are wrong to only consider financial aspects. EURACTIV Germany reports.

A recent report published by the German Court of Auditors scrutinizes the government’s “Energiewende” renewable transition project, calling the campaign expensive, disorganised and inconsistent.

To this day, the Merkel government does not have a clear overview of the financial effects of the Energiewende, the Süddeutsche Zeitung quotes the auditors as writing.

The report came out earlier this month, at a time when criticism has been growing over rising energy costs and disagreement over whether the plan can maintain Germany’s prized position as a leader in promoting green energy.

>>Read: Germany losing prestige in energy transition, study reveals

According to the report, the extra burden on the budget is in double-digit billions annually. One of the reasons for this, the authors claim, is that responsibilities are not delegated clearly enough.

“As a result federal ministries implement measures that are often uncoordinated, inconsistent and sometimes redundant”, the report says.

The auditors repeatedly indicate a lack of coordination. According to the report, four ministries each had independent reports drawn up to assess the government’s strategy. This shows “that the ministries and therefore also the federal government lack comprehensive oversight over measures they themselves initiated”.

Where’s the bigger picture?

The German government reacted with sharp criticism. According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Sigmar Gabriel, the Minister of Economic Affairs, claimed that the report overstates the cost, but omits an “overall economic, social and ecological assessment”.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Economic Affairs explained in Berlin on Wednesday (20 August), that the ministry believes the Federal Court of Auditors “took a very broad definition of the Energiewende when observing the fiscal effects”.

The report included “practically all measures that are in some way related to energy policy”. “But in our view, a simple compilation of expenditure and reduced revenue is not sufficient to assess the success of the Energiewende,” the spokesman said.

In addition, he indicated that the report studies organisational and financial aspects of the Energiewende along with its implementation during the previous legislative term.

As a result, the German government has “already tackled the organisational conditions that were proposed in this organisational-methodological area”.

A regularly published monitoring report releases positions on the financial aspects of the energy transition plan, said the ministry’s spokesman. Individual opinions were also published in response to the Federal Court of Auditors’ report.

Stemming from the 1980s, the term Energiewende describes a movement in Germany to shift to clean energy, reducing the country's dependence on gas, coal and nuclear energy. In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster 2011, the campaign was picked up by the Merkel administration. The German government quickly reacted, passing legislation that would phase out the country's nuclear power plants by 2022 while introducing a number of targets for shifting to renewable electricity generation.

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