BERLIN, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Germany is the only industrial country in the world that has decided to phase out of "both nuclear as well as coal power in parallel" while increasing the share of renewable energy, economy minister Peter Altmaier said Tuesday.
"It is a big challenge to do both," Altmaier said at the Handelsblatt energy summit.
"Affordability, security of supply and environmental sustainability" would be the three factors that determine how the phase out of coal in Germany should be structured, Altmaier said in his speech.
The last coal mines in Germany have recently been closed and all nuclear plants in Germany are to be shut down by the end of 2020. Altmaier stressed that timing was important "in the face of the enormous CO2 emission" of coal plants.
To speed up the transition to renewables, Germany introduced the renewable energy law (EEG) that guarantees operators of solar plants or wind turbines for example a fixed compensation above market prices for their electricity.
Referring to off-shore wind parks in northern Germany that were commissioned without any additional subsidies last year, Altmaier pointed out that "we are now in a situation where renewables are starting to generate electricity at market prices".
At the moment, the additional money needed to pay a premium to renewable energy producers is distributed evenly on top of the electricity bill of consumers in Germany. However, Germany's energy intensive industries such as steel, aluminum and copper are exempt from the EEG charge until 2020.
Altmaier called for the compensation of electricity cost for such German industries to "continue beyond 2020" in order to maintain price competitiveness.
However, the minister made clear that the entire process would not be over anytime soon. "We will still be talking about coal in 2030", said Altmaier.