Apr.08 - Germany is reforming its renewable energy law in a bid to stop costs rising so quickly, as it makes the transition from nuclear and fossil fuels to green energy, which accounts for 25 percent of Germany's electricity. As Joanna Partridge reports it will force new investors in green power to take some risk.
Europe's largest economy - with some very green goals. Germany wants to nearly double its green power usage to 45% by 2025. Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet has agreed a wide overhaul of renewable energy laws. It's a centre-piece reform for her new coalition government and she wants it to come into effect by August. The aim is to stop the cost of energy rising so quickly and make the transition from nuclear power and fossil fuels more sustainable - and without harming industry and jobs. The reforms will slow the rapid expansion of green energy, force investors in green power to take some risk and protect households from future cost rises by forcing industry to pay more. Most voters support the move but not all think the government's doing enough to help consumers. Household power prices are already among the highest in Europe. And consumers and some companies pay renewable energy surcharges on their electricity bills. Thorben Becker is from BUND - Friends of the Earth Germany. SOUNDBITE: Thorben Becker, Energy Expert, BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany), saying (German): "We haven't had any new answers from the government about costs. Because whoever wants to reduce costs for consumers, shouldn't put the brakes on expansion of renewable energy, but should instead spread the costs more fairly and reverse industry subsidies." Industry subsidies were also a concern for Europe. But Berlin and the European Commission have reached an agreement on exemptions to renewable energy surcharges which benefitted big power users. There had been fears the discounts would give Germany's industry an unfair advantage over rival companies in other EU countries. The biggest casualties in the reforms are the big utility firms RWE and E.ON which own a large portion of the country's coal and gas power stations. Massive overcapacity has pushed down wholesale power prices and dented earnings - and the greener Germany gets, the more they may suffer.