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Germany Needs More Ambitious Energy Targets, Merkel Rival Says

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is “failing” in a plan to exit nuclear energy and run Europe’s biggest economy on renewable energy sources, Green Party co-leader Juergen Trittin said.

Trittin said Merkel’s government blocked European Union plans to introduce a binding energy efficiency target, has failed to unlock money to reduce consumption and should back more ambitious targets for renewables such as wind and solar.

“You can’t just exit, you have to enter,” to transform the German energy mix, Trittin, an environment minister in Gerhard Schroeder’s Social Democrat-led government from 1998 to 2005, said in an interview in his Berlin office yesterday. “The government’s 2020 targets are not ambitious.”

Germany, Europe’s biggest power market, shuttered more than a quarter of its nuclear capacity after the Fukushima disaster in Japan last March and plans to complete an exit by 2022. The government wants to get 35 percent of the country’s electricity from renewables by 2020 compared with about 20 percent now.

Trittin, the architect of the Schroeder government’s policy to exit nuclear power before Merkel in 2010 reversed that decision, said he would support the renewable industry in its aim to push the share of renewables to “far more than 40 percent,” by the end of this decade.

“The government has failed to explain how it will plug the gap between the shuttered reactors and targets for renewables,” that have been unchanged since the decision to close the country’s eight oldest reactors last year, he said.

A binding EU efficiency target and a bloc-wide goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2020 would push up CO2 prices, unlocking money to make buildings more energy-efficient, he said.

Germany should also incentivize the construction of energy storage facilities and efficient natural gas plants to “enable a new energy supply dominated by renewables,” he said.

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