Revenue Shortfall Carmakers Demand E-Mobility Help from Merkel
Berlin has spearheaded a huge transition to renewable energy, but it isn't running smoothly. Funding for renewable energy projects was meant to come from carbon dioxide emissions trading. But significant shortfalls have now prompted auto industry leaders to request that Chancellor Merkel maintain support for electric cars.
Carbon dioxide emissions trading was supposed to provide significant funding for the German government's big plan to guide the country into a renewable energy revolution. But proceeds from the scheme have been significantly lower than expected. And as a result, budgetary allotments for renewable energy products has been slashed, SPIEGEL has learned.
This year the Energy and Climate Fund (EKFG) will be reduced from 780 million to 452 million, according to a report from the Finance Ministry to the parliamentary budgetary committee obtained by SPIEGEL. The funding shortfall will affect one of Chancellor Angela Merkel's pet projects, support for electric cars. In response to the unexpected cuts, German auto industry leaders -- despite raking in record profits of late -- have written to the chancellor requesting that she follow through on her pledge to support their electric vehicle programs.
The letter asks Merkel to ensure payments worth billions that were promised for 2012 and 2013, money that was meant to go towards research and development. It was signed by Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), along with the CEO of software giant SAP, Henning Kagermann, and head of metalworkers' union IG Metall, Berthold Huber.
Meanwhile Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen has also suffered from cuts to his "market stimulus program," which subsidizes the private construction of solar panels, heat pumps and biomass facilities. Funding has been cut in half to 50 million.
In what could prove to be another blow to the Merkel administration's energy revolution, a number of German textile companies are boycotting the payment of an electricity surcharge levied to support the development of solar, wind and water power plants.
The surcharge currently amounts to 0.0359 per kilowatt hour of energy use, which would amount to some 120 per year for an average family. But the Confederation of the German Textile and Fashion Industry hopes to have their case against the payments heard by the Federal Constitutional Court. Their opposition is based on a report they commissioned from Regensburg professor Gerrit Manssen, who wrote of "quite considerable doubt" over whether the surcharge is constitutional.
According to the report, the surcharge is comparable to the "coal penny" tax, a consumer surcharge that subsidized the downsizing of the German coal industry. It was ruled unconstitutional in 1994.