German lawmakers back plan to expand renewable energy
German lawmakers on Thursday approved a major package of reforms aimed at boosting the production of renewable power, as Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned that the country has for too long relied on energy supplies from Russia.The government unveiled its 600-page Easter package in April, less than two months after Russias invasion of Ukraine escalated the simmering energy crisis between Moscow and western European neighbours, many of which were buyers of Russian fossil fuels.Germany has sharply reduced its energy imports from Russia in recent months.
German lawmakers on Thursday approved a major package of reforms aimed at boosting the production of renewable power, as Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned that the country has for too long relied on energy supplies from Russia.
The government unveiled its 600-page "Easter package" in April, less than two months after Russia's invasion of Ukraine escalated the simmering energy crisis between Moscow and western European neighbors, many of which were buyers of Russian fossil fuels.
Scholz said late on Wednesday that the war was another reason for Europe's biggest economy to double down on its efforts to expand the use of renewable energy.
"Germany has relied for too long on on and too unilaterally on energy supplies from Russia," he said at a renewable energy industry event in Berlin.
"After all, no one believes that Russia is reducing its gas supplies for technical reasons alone," he added.
Energy Minister Robert Habeck told lawmakers that the "sheer number and extent of laws" now being hurried through the Bundestag reflected both the scale of the challenge and the government's ambition.
It recently pledged to rapidly accelerate the installation of sun and wind power facilities, setting a target of generating 80 percent of Germany's gross electricity use from renewable energy by 2030 — almost double the share it had last year — and cutting greenhouse gas emissions from all sources to "net zero" by 2045.
To achieve this, the government proposed setting aside more land for onshore wind parks and lowering bureaucratic hurdles that have slowed construction in recent years.
Still, economists questioned this week whether the government's ambitious goals were achievable even with the new measures.
Opposition lawmaker Andreas Jung of the Christian Democrats criticized the government for keeping heavily polluting coal-fired power plants on stand-by to replace gas-fired facilities that have to shut down due to lack of supply.
Instead, he suggested, Germany could expand the use of domestic biogas from agricultural waste.
"If we want to keep energy affordable in the long term, if we want to reconcile supply security and climate protection, then this is only possible with renewable energies," said Scholz. "That's why we need to kick the expansion of renewables into high gear now." The law still needs to pass Germany's upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat.
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