Germany's push towards renewable energy sources will cause a sharp increase in electricity prices for consumers next year, reported AFP on Monday, with green power surcharges expected to rise by 47 percent while overall electricity costs will also go up by 7 percent.
According to the report, the consumer subsidies for renewable energy will rise to 5.3 euro cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) from 3.6 euro cents, while network operators will also receive 20.36 billion euros ($26.4 billion) to utilise green energy sources.
"It's clear that the energy switch-over that we all want and that I want to succeed, won't come free," Environment Minister Peter Altmaier told reporters last week.
"I think it's better to invest 1 percent of our GDP per year in expanding renewable energies at home than transferring increasingly high sums to people in Russia or the Middle East who are making a lot of money on fossil fuel reserves," added Matthes, of the Institute for Applied Ecology, to Bloomberg.
Germans have long been paying an additional surcharge on their electricity bills, which guarantees producers of alternative energies a return on their investment above market rate.Today, Germany has one of the highest electricity rates across Europe, averaging about 24 euro cents kWh compared with about 13 euro cents in France or 14 euro cents in the U.K.
Under the current system, the amount of surcharge levied unto consumers is also automatically linked to the amount of energy produced by renewable sources. As such, with the country determined to shut down all nuclear power plants by 2022 - while ensuring that 40 percents of its energy needs will be supplied by renewable sources by 2020 - electricity bills for consumers are expected to increase even further.
"The electricity price goes up, and the population's support for phasing out nuclear power is declining," warned Germany's center-left opposition leader Sigmar Gabriel on Sunday.
"Electricity should not become a luxury item," added Michael Fuchs, a leading lawmaker from Merkel's center-right coalition. "The energy switchover will at the end only be successful when met with broad public support."
German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler urged Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition over the weekend to launch a quick reform of the subsidy system, as it had spiralled "out of control."
"The surcharge has more than quadrupled since 2009. It has crossed the tolerable level of pain," Roesler said.
In a poll released on Sunday, as cited by Bloomberg, two-thirds of Germans surveyed also said they were not prepared to pay more than 50 euros per year to finance the switchover from nuclear energy - far less than the additional 60 euros increase expected to arise for an average three-person household next year.
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By 2050, the government aims to supply four-fifths of Germany's power needs from alternative energy sources such as solar or wind energy.
Claudia Kemfert, from the DIW economic institute, told AFP that the poor was likely to suffer the most from the price increase, though she stressed that the renewable energy sector in Germany would continue to create jobs.
"The increase in this charge is manageable for many households, but there are also very poor, low-income households which could be negatively affected by this type of price rise," Kemfert said.
"We need to think about ways to help these households financially, so they can save energy and electricity," she added.
With more than 400,000 people in Germany presently employed in the renewable energy sector,"this number will rise," Kemfert said. "Therefore, this is a positive development for Germany."