Massive expansion of renewables: Habeck delivers nerve-wracking Easter package

After months of preparation and intensive struggles within the traffic lights in recent weeks, the Bundestag passed a large legislative package that increases the expansion targets for renewables and is intended to remove various obstacles.

Massive expansion of renewables: Habeck delivers nerve-wracking Easter package

After months of preparation and intensive struggles within the traffic lights in recent weeks, the Bundestag passed a large legislative package that increases the expansion targets for renewables and is intended to remove various obstacles. A relieved Habeck also admits how difficult it was.

Just in time for the summer break, the federal government's Easter package to accelerate the expansion of renewable energies went through parliament. All legislative packages received the necessary majority of the government factions, in some cases also the yes votes of the Union. "The sheer number of laws alone shows what the current phase is," said Robert Habeck, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection. It is the largest legislative package for the expansion of renewable energies in recent years. Other speakers at the traffic light also spoke of an important step towards converting the country to an energy supply that is as CO2-free as possible. However, the decision was preceded by a lot of tension within the government.

At the center of the very numerous and detailed resolutions is, among other things, the increase in the expansion target for renewable energies in electricity to a share of 80 percent by 2030. In the current year it is 49 percent. In addition: the obligation of all federal states to designate two percent area for wind power by 2032, the determination of the "overriding public interest" in the expansion of renewables when weighing up the interests in approval and legal proceedings, the elimination of the EEG surcharge and the amendment of the nature conservation law. The latter is controversial because the opposition and environmental and nature conservation organizations do not see the interests of species protection as being sufficiently taken into account.

In addition to the expansion of wind power on land, the expansion of offshore and photovoltaic systems should also progress. New federal areas will become available for wind and solar, for example along motorways or in the vicinity of airports. But the federal states also have an obligation: If two percent of land area is not designated for wind energy, the federal government threatens to delete the individual rules of the federal states concerned for the distance between wind turbines and residential areas. This sanction is aimed at countries like Bavaria. Financial incentives and the removal of democratic obstacles are also intended to massively increase the number of photovoltaic systems on roofs.

"Since the introduction of the Renewable Energy Sources Act in 2000, we have never made such a big step forward in expanding renewables," praised Matthias Miersch, the SPD parliamentary group's negotiator, on Tuesday. There was a breakthrough in the talks with the FDP and the Greens. But the final details for the 20 laws and ordinances were negotiated well into the night before today's vote. After the cabinet reached basic agreement in the spring, numerous conflicts erupted between the coalition members in the parliamentary process. Both other parties spoke of a "procrastination tactic" by the FDP.

The Greens in particular were irritated by the impression that the Liberals wanted to backtrack on the agreements made by the federal government. In particular, the FDP feared over-regulation and at the same time wanted to dismantle the protection of species and nature as an ever-recurring argument against opponents of renewable energy systems. The Greens spoke of an “attack on species protection”, which was repelled. Habeck may also have meant these internal tensions when the climate protection minister "thanked the part of the house that - it's no secret - worked to the limits of nervous resilience."

Union energy politician Andreas Jung spoke of a "package of missed opportunities", even if he didn't want to deny that things were progressing. More would have been possible for the expansion of photovoltaics and the use of biomass and geothermal energy if the Union had been more involved in the legislative process. Nevertheless, Jung announced that his parliamentary group would approve the laws on grid expansion and on wind power at sea, also because the traffic light here included proposals from the Union.

Overall, Jung criticized an "underground" legislative process. The opposition representatives in the committees only received templates and changes at very short notice, despite sometimes three-digit pages, as the AfD MP Andreas Bleck and the CSU politician Anja Weisgerber complained. Weisgerber also expressed doubts that the brake on the expansion of legal action has been substantially solved: "The law is a job creation program for lawyers," Weisgerber quoted an expert invited by the SPD to the committee. Speakers from the parliamentary group rejected criticism from the Union with reference to "16 years of standstill in climate protection" under Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The short processing times for the opposition were also due to the crunching inside the traffic lights. The package should definitely be decided before the parliamentary summer recess, which begins next week. Especially since the next tour de force is already imminent: the federal government's so-called summer package must next go through parliament. Among other things, this should then address the question of storage and energy transport infrastructure and also contain further individual measures to unleash the expansion of wind and solar power.

In order to achieve the ambitious climate protection goals, further steps are necessary. The traffic light project for an accelerated expansion of renewable energies has tailwind, above all due to the massive increase in prices for fossil raw materials as a result of the Russian war against Ukraine. In addition, the traffic light has set itself the goal of making Germany emission-free by 2045. However, the climate goals are faltering, partly because the federal government wants to reactivate the coal-fired power plants that were actually shut down or that are being phased out should Russian President Vladimir Putin stop gas exports to the Federal Republic. The general economic crisis, which could worsen further, and a lack of personnel and material at producers and in the construction industry are also slowing down the expansion of renewables.

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