German Nuclear Exit May Cost Extra $400 Billion Without Measures

Germany’s switch from nuclear power to renewables may cost the country an extra 300 billion euros ($400 billion) unless the government wins approval for plans to slow growth in green-energy prices, a minister said.

The proposals, agreed to by the coalition government last week, may cut costs from about 1 trillion euros, Environment Minister Peter Altmaier said. He’s seeking a cross-party consensus in the next six to eight weeks for the plans that include cuts in subsidies for current and new renewables projects, and reduced support for energy-intensive companies.

“I don’t want to limit the renewable expansion, I want to make it affordable,” Altmaier told reporters in Berlin.

The cost of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision following Japan’s Fukushima nuclear meltdown to shutter atomic plants by 2022 in favor of renewables has becoming a campaign theme before a Sept. 22 election. At the same time, Social Democrat opponents say government proposals will slow the expansion of renewables.

Germany would pay about 676 billion euros of subsidies by 2022 should wind turbine and solar panel installations continue at the pace of recent years, Altmaier said. The balance of the 1 trillion euros would pay for measures such as reserving capacity for when renewables aren’t able to generate power and making buildings more energy-efficient, the minister said.

Meanwhile, German carbon-dioxide emissions in 2012 may have increased for the first time in years because more coal has been burned to produce electricity instead of gas, Altmaier said.