Lausitz: Economics Minister: Energy transition is on track

Despite all the difficulties and protests, Economics Minister Robert Habeck sees the expansion of green electricity from wind and sun as planned.

Lausitz: Economics Minister: Energy transition is on track

Despite all the difficulties and protests, Economics Minister Robert Habeck sees the expansion of green electricity from wind and sun as planned. “If we continue at this pace, then we will have made it,” said the Green politician on Tuesday in Cottbus. “We are now embarking on the path to achieving our goals.” The East German Prime Ministers Michael Kretschmer and Reiner Haseloff (both CDU) contradicted this.

"I'm more worried about the energy transition," said Saxony's Prime Minister Kretschmer at a conference organized by the energy association BDEW. “I have already said several times at this point that you have to set it up again and recalculate it again.” Energy is incredibly expensive in Germany and there is an exodus of companies. "Our competition is much cheaper, and that has to weigh on us."

His party colleague Haseloff, Prime Minister of Saxony-Anhalt, emphasized that the goals should not be unrealistically high. Pragmatism is required. The coal phase-out may not come until 2038. “It will take many decades to change Germany’s entire system,” said Haseloff. Brandenburg's Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke (SPD) demanded that the costs of the energy transition should not be borne by the citizens.

According to the federal government's plans, 80 percent of electricity should come from renewable energy sources by 2030. Currently it is a good half. To achieve this, not only solar and wind farms need to be expanded, but also power grids. At the same time, new power plants are needed for when the wind doesn't blow or the sun doesn't shine. They will initially be operated with natural gas and later with hydrogen. The aim is for Germany to stop releasing any additional greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from 2045 onwards.

"It's solvable"

Habeck emphasized: “It is solvable, it is manageable.” Wind turbines today are six to seven times more powerful than old ones. The following applies: 10,000 wind turbines have to be removed and 10,000 new systems have to be put in. “It is of course possible.”

Habeck was open to building large overhead power lines above ground instead of laying them underground as planned. From the network operators' perspective, this would save tens of billions. “But it must not lead to delays,” demanded the minister. “It has to be done in no time.” If a consensus is not reached between the prime ministers and the federal government within a few weeks, you should not replan.

“Crushed between AfD and apocalypse”

Stefan Kapferer, head of the network operator 50Hertz, said that a lot had happened in accelerating the expansion. Basically, the following applies: "We are much further along with the energy transition than is the case in public perception. We are being crushed somewhere between the AfD and the apocalypse. And that is bad. I think we have to put the positive things in the foreground place."

At the conference, the municipal suppliers and the association of cities and municipalities called for financial support from the federal government for the switch to heat supply without greenhouse gases. They warned Building Minister Klara Geywitz (SPD) not to overwhelm municipalities when it comes to heat planning.

According to the new heat planning law, large cities should draw up heat plans by the end of June 2026, and smaller cities and municipalities with fewer than 100,000 inhabitants by the end of June 2028. The federal government is supporting the municipalities with 500 million euros.

Habeck meets farmers' president

Habeck was greeted in the morning by some angry demonstrators with a concert of whistles and horns and demands for his resignation. As he was leaving, an egg flew towards his column, the police confirmed. He wasn't hit.

During the conference, the Green politician expressed great concerns about the culture of debate. Instead of shouting at each other, we need to talk to each other and listen to each other. If compromises are no longer possible, it will destroy democracy, said Habeck. “Societal energy comes first before all the energy issues, and it also has to be renewed.”

The conference took place in Lusatia, which is particularly affected by the energy transition due to the move away from lignite. The coal phase-out has been agreed for 2038, but the federal government would like to bring it forward to 2030 if possible. Prime Minister Woidke called for this date to be taken off the table because it would only create uncertainty.