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Germany should embrace US-style energy rules – lobby head

(Montel) Germany must cut unnecessary bureaucracy in energy rules and should consider US-style legislation to help spur the transition towards a decarbonised economy, said the head of energy lobby BDEW.

“We need the freedom to do what we have to do,” said Kerstin Andreae said at the lobby’s energy conference in Berlin on Thursday. “We have to get micromanagement out of our mindset.”

She said Germany needs to look to the US, which is investing huge sums as it implements the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), legislation that authorises significant spending on green transition projects.

Andreae said Germany needs to consider options like the tax credits employed by the US bill, which have boosted investment. “The IRA impresses with its simplicity,” she said.

Economy minister Robert Habeck has addressed the problem of excessive bureaucracy multiple times and trumpeted various procedures that he has sidelined.

“Keep it simple”
Germany is pushing various initiatives towards its goal of being climate neutral by 2045, including the annual installation of dozens of gigawatts of renewables, plans to add 10 GW of gas-fired, hydrogen-ready power plants by 2030 and laying connector cables to bring renewable power from the north to the industry-heavy south.

But industry heads look at those plans and worry that they will carry with them reams of new rules that have to be followed.

“Keep it as simple as possible. We have no time to lose,” GP Joule CTO Heinrich Gaertner said on Wednesday during a panel on transmission lines.

The sentiment was echoed earlier that day during a talk about Germany’s goal of someday using 100% renewable energy, when Helene Bistrom, a senior vice president and head of wind at Swedish utility Vattenfall, said a key priority was “swift permitting”.

Meanwhile, Thomas Koenig, chief operating officer of energy networks at utility Eon, pointed to examples like solar power firm Enpal, which has to negotiate deals with hundreds of different providers as it hooks up solar networks.

Moritz Koerner, a member of Germany’s pro-business FDP party in the European Parliament, said Germany needs to look at simple solutions.

“We should not go back and have detailed rules for every single area,” he said.

Koenig expressed similar sentiments, saying the time for debates, disagreements and delays was past, because German industry needs to be freed up to build the projects that the EU’s biggest economy needs for its energy transition.

“Infrastructure is a matter of survival for our country,” he noted.

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