Germany: Röttgen aims to reform EEG

German Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety Norbert Röttgen (CDU) is planning a comprehensive reform of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG). Thus he aims to force faster development of renewable energies such as photovoltaics, wind and biomass.

In a benchmark paper made available to pv magazine, which was prepared in the course of the EEG progress report and the EEG amendment, Röttgen now demands introduction of an "optional market bonus".

Furthermore, the past regulations, i.e. the feed-in priority for renewable energies, as well as payment of a feed-in tariff, are to remain intact. These benchmarks are to be incorporated into an energy law package that is to be adopted by the Federal Cabinet on June 6, as the German Federal Ministry for the Environment confirmed. Officially no one at the Ministry wanted to comment on the benchmark paper.

According to the intentions of the German Federal Minister for the Environment, the new market bonus will increase incentives for investments storage facilities and thus enhance the integration of renewable energies. Producers of environmentally-friendly electricity should then be able to better coordinate their feed-in to match requirements.

As a result, a secure power supply can continue to be ensured in Germany even if the share of renewable energies significantly increases in the years to come.

According to Röttgen’s plans, suppliers will then be able to sell their environmentally-friendly electricity directly on the stock exchange. They would then be refunded the difference between the average stock exchange price and the legally valid feed-in tariff. Consequently, those able to sell electricity at an above average price – that is, in times of high demand and short supply – can even generate additional earnings.

The German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE) is skeptical of the new market bonus. One point of criticism is that only large companies will be likely to profit once again. In addition, it would increase the costs of development of renewable energies for consumers – and this is not in the interest of the industry, said speaker Daniel Kluge in response to pv magazine.

Moreover, the bonus does not create effective incentives, in order to accelerate the change in energy policy to renewable energies. For example, only a maximum of between 0.5 and one cent per kilowatt hour will be earned in addition. However, the costs for storage facilities would be higher.

A more effective measure would be to promote the use of storage facilities or construction of combined cycle power plants, Kluge went on to say. This would be best brought about with a surcharge in the case of the feed-in tariff.

Röttgen also demands a "storage offensive". To this end, a comprehensive strategy – a "storage roadmap" – is to be drafted where requirements, the development of technology, subsidy strategies, framework conditions and the available instruments are to be addressed.

The Minister for the Environment even took account of the 50.2 Hz problem in the case of photovoltaic plants. Thus they are to be incorporated into feed-in management in the future and against the payment of compensation throttled like other renewable energy installations in the event of network congestion.

Already existing photovoltaic plants would also have to be reequipped for this purpose. However, this is only to apply to larger systems. Nothing, however, is contained in the paper with regard to distribution of the costs of such an upgrade.

New rules planned for solar subsidies

Röttgen also plans various changes in the feed-in tariffs. Thus, for instance, offshore wind energy is to receive higher subsidies. In the case of photovoltaics, the Minister suggests maintaining the gradual decrease based on the construction of additional installations and, as happened this year, lowering the solar subsidy on a semiannual basis.

Additionally, he aims to reduce the remuneration classes to a total of three – thus there will be different tariffs for plants up to 30 kilowatts, between 30 and 500 kilowatts, and more than 500 kilowatts.

The independent power consumption regulation is to be limited to photovoltaic plants of up to 100 kilowatts. Röttgen also demands that outdoor installations on conversion areas no longer be subsidized if they are to be established in protected areas involving the highest nature conservation categories.