Utilities plan to invest in German power network

4th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

4 April 2006, BERLIN - Business leaders offered more investment in the German electricity system, and the federal government promised more research and development spending on energy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday.

4 April 2006

BERLIN - Business leaders offered more investment in the German electricity system, and the federal government promised more research and development spending on energy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday.

Speaking after an energy "summit" in Berlin attended by top ministers and German business leaders, she said that the utilities would be investing up to 30 billion euros (36 billion dollars) in power stations and the electricity grid by 2012.

Before the summit, she added, just 20 billion euros in such spending had been expected.

The government would pour an additional 2 billion euros (2.4 billion dollars) into related research, mainly for solar and wind power and other forms of renewable energy through 2009.

Business groups were likely to invest 33 to 40 billion euros in such technologies, she said.

Germany would seek to reduce its dependence on energy imports and restrain a rise in energy prices, Merkel added, calling the talks behind closed doors on a new energy blueprint "constructive".

Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that some speakers had suggested postponing the shutdown of Germany's nuclear power stations, but this had not taken up disproportionate time at the summit, and utilities had assured him they would abide by agreements.

Debate on the divisive issue of nuclear power has heated up in recent weeks, with pro-nuclear groups suggesting Germany's 15-year sunset period for nuclear power be extended because of rising power costs.

The meeting was called to discuss Germany's future energy security. Germany imports 97 per cent of the oil it uses but has huge fields of high-sulphur soft coal and is rapidly expanding wind and solar power generation. Soaring energy prices are worrying the Germans.

Entering the talks, Merkel told reporters that the dialogue in Germany would be continued into 2007 so as to establish a policy that would apply until 2020. Merkel said that the summit would be reconvened in September after three working parties had compiled reports.

Merkel, a physicist by training, said that Germany had an "incredible opportunity" to score advances in energy and environmental technology, which would boost exports.

DPA

Subject: German news

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