BERLIN — (AP) — German lawmakers on Thursday approved a major reform package aimed at boosting renewable energy production, as Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned that the country has depended too long on energy supplies from Russia. .
The government unveiled its 600-page “Easter Package” in April, less than two months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine deepened the simmering energy crisis between Moscow and its Western European neighbours, many of whom were buyers of Russian fossil fuels.
Germany has sharply reduced its energy imports from Russia in recent months. The government aims to end the purchase of Russian coal and oil this year, and natural gas by 2024.
Scholz said Wednesday night that the war was another reason for Europe’s biggest economy to step up efforts to expand the use of renewable energy.
“Germany has relied too long and too unilaterally on energy supplies from Russia,” he said at a renewable energy industry event in Berlin.
Referring to recent moves by Moscow to reduce the flow of natural gas to Europe, Scholz said “we have to realize that Russia is using energy as a weapon.”
“After all, no one believes that Russia is cutting gas supplies just for technical reasons,” he added.
Energy Minister Robert Habeck told lawmakers that “the number and scope of laws” currently being rushed through the Bundestag reflected both the scale of the challenge and the government’s ambition.
He recently pledged to rapidly accelerate the installation of solar and wind installations, setting a target to generate 80% of Germany’s gross electricity consumption from renewable energy by 2030 – almost double the share it had last year – and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from all sources. to “net zero” by 2045.
To achieve this, the government has proposed setting aside more land for onshore wind farms and reducing bureaucratic hurdles that have slowed construction in recent years.
Yet economists this week questioned whether the government’s ambitious goals were achievable even with the new measures.
Opposition MP Andreas Jung of the Christian Democrats slammed the government for keeping heavily polluting coal-fired power stations on standby to replace gas-fired ones that have to close due to a lack of supply. Instead, he suggested, Germany could expand the use of domestic biogas from agricultural waste.
Consumers in Germany, as elsewhere in Europe, have been warned that they expect significantly higher energy bills this year, mainly due to soaring fossil fuel prices.
“If we want to keep energy affordable in the long term, if we want to reconcile security of supply and climate protection, this is only possible with renewable energy,” said Scholz. “That’s why we need to accelerate the expansion of renewable energy now.”
The law still needs to be passed by the upper house of the German parliament, the Bundesrat.
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