BERLIN, Jan 17 (Reuters) - German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler said on Tuesday it was time for a review after two decades of state support for wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy to safeguard the sector’s competitiveness.
“After 21 years, we have to discuss whether renewables have grown up and whether they need to face the free market,” he said at the annual Handelsblatt Energy industry conference.
“We must start thinking today about how we can deal with this,” he said.
High costs for renewable energy, mainly solar, have sparked a debate about a review of Germany’s energy law EEG, with Roesler calling to abandon the current subsidy scheme and instead force utilities to market a determined share of renewable power.
“Subsidies lead to disadvantages. There’s a lack of innovation,” Roesler said, adding the EEG would have to be developed further to reflect current market conditions.
Costs paid by utilities to generators of renewable energy, so-called feed-in tariffs, have helped spur strong expansion in renewables, particularly in solar power. These costs are ultimately passed on to consumers’ energy bills.
About 8 billion euros ($10 billion) of the total 17.1 billion in costs paid by German electricity consumers to fund the expansion of renewables was expected to flow into solar power in 2011, figures from the German network regulator show. ($1 = 0.7891 euros) (Reporting by Christoph Steitz and Vera Eckert; editing by Jason Neely)