Germany’s move away from nuclear in favour of renewable energy has been described as a “Herculean task” by the country’s new environment minister Peter Altmaier.

Altmaier took up his post on Tuesday after Chancellor Angela Merkel last week fired his predecessor, Norbert Roettgen, after he took the blame for a heavy regional election defeat for the Christian Democrats party.

He said that Germany’s new strategy – decided in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year – was “a Herculean task, but it is achievable”.

He was speaking as Merkel met with the leaders of 15 other European states to thrash out her energy blueprint and its implications on other countries. Their agenda was believed to include talks on wind and solar power, grid upgrades and possible sites for storing nuclear waste.

The push to significantly boost renewable power has met with industry opposition in Germany, with transmission companies in particular stating that they cannot keep pace with the urgency to integrate wind and solar power into the grid.