Merkel Seeks More Effort in Offshore Wind Power

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will push energy companies to make more effort in the offshore wind farm sector when she discusses power generation issues with key industry officials in a meeting later Wednesday, where she hopes to get an overview on planned power plants and grid expansion to prevent a possible shortfall in energy capacity.

"I want to get an overview before we get a first draft of the power grid network plan at the beginning of June. Where do we have to dig deeper and maybe put in extra work," Merkel told Wednesday’s Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper. "There are important months ahead of us to implement the energy shift."

The economic risks of offshore wind power plants must be manageable and the connection to the mainland must be ensured, Merkel said, adding that the government is current reviewing the legal framework to increase subsidies for such plants.

According to Borsa Italiana – London Stock Exchange Group, the meeting comes as Germany rapidly shifts away from nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima disaster last year, and the country has pledged a complete exit from nuclear energy by 2022 and a push into renewable energy.

The chancellor will meet the chief executives of E.ON AG, RWE AG, EnBW Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG, and Vattenfall Europe, a unit of Sweden’s state-controlled Vattenfall AB, at 1430 GMT. She will also meet with representatives from Siemens AG and power network operators.

Hildegard Mueller, the managing director of German main energy lobby group BDEW, said Wednesday a lot needs to be done to improve the country’s power transmission and distribution grid network. "We must build thousands of kilometers of grid network in order to integrate the supply from renewable energy," said Mueller on German ZDF breakfast television. Her group represents utilities that account for 90% of German electricity and gas sales.

Ahead of the meeting, Germany’s first state governor of the Green Party, Winfried Kretschmann, told Merkel she should push for the creation of new gas-fired power plants. "I am fully convinced that the power market in its current shape isn’t fit to master the challenges of the energy shift," Baden-Wuerttemberg’s state governor wrote in a letter to the Chancellor seen by Financial Times Deutschland newspaper.

Germany gives preference to electricity produced by renewable energies, with coal and gas-fired power plants only being used when there isn’t enough wind energy and sun power to meet demand.