Political change

The End of the Energy Transition?

Braunkohlekraftwerk Jänschwalde
A return to coal? Source: dpa

Andreas Pinkwart is on a mission. The Minister for Energy for North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, wants to tear up many aspects of Germany’s much lauded transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies in a bid to halt electricity price hikes in his region.

In a speech last month, Mr. Pinkwart, a member of the economically liberal Free Democratic Party, or FDP, talked at length about the side effects of the country’s energy transition and his plans. He wants the market to do more of the work and for there to be fewer subsidies for wind and solar. He wants to preserve the use of fossil fuels and place greater restrictions on where wind turbines can be built. He thinks the energy transition, as envisioned by former chancellor Gerhard Schröder and current leader Angela Merkel, is a mistake.

Mr. Pinkwart is the most powerful FDP politician in the state’s coalition cabinet, led by Armin Laschet, a member of Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, or CDU. Which means he is the master of power grids and renewable energies, with the power to reinvent energy policy in North Rhine-Westphalia. But more importantly, and much to the concern of climate protection experts, nuclear power proponents and energy companies, his controversial plans could soon serve as a blueprint for an energy about-turn across the country.

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