Germany: Decision about solar subsidies delayed

The eagerly-anticipated meeting of the energy task force of Germany’s coalition party of the CDU/CSU (Christian Democrat) and FDP (Liberal) parties ended in Berlin yesterday evening, without a concrete decision about the future of the country’s solar subsidies.

Nevertheless, according to reports from political circles, the Federal Ministries of the Environment and Economics have until the end of February to agree on shared solar subsidy legislation. Succeeding this, a quick amendment of the Renewable Energy Law (EEG) will follow in order to decide changes affecting photovoltaics. An annual cap on photovoltaic installations at one gigawatt (GW), however appears to be off the cards for now.

"I’m working at us having an alteration to the law effective by April 1," Federal Minister of the Environment Norbert Röttgen told Reuters after the meeting. Consultations with the Ministry of Economics were already set to begin next week, with quick action an important goal.

At the meeting, Röttgen spoke out against a strict limitation on additional installations at one GW per year, the repeatedly voiced-demand of Minister of Economics Phillip Rösler (FDP) and CDU economic policymakers. "A set cap would strangle the solar industry in Germany," he said to Reuters.

The Government target of an annual 2.5 to 3.5 GW of newly installed photovoltaic capacity remained unchanged. His goal was to "limit further installation to a reasonable level."

CDU economic policymaker Joachim Pfeiffer spoke of the agreement of all those taking part that further large cuts had to be made, Reuters continued. Diverse proposals of the amount to be cut had been offered, from a little above ten to 40 percent. On this, Röttgen confirmed that no agreement as to the amount of new cuts had been made.

It also remains to be seen how his aim of monthly, rather than biannual, cuts to solar subsidies are to be brought about. He additionally expressed what he sees as the need for alterations to large photovoltaic installations on open areas. "The larger the solar installation, the larger the strain on the grid," he stated.

With reference to those participating at the meeting, Reuters reported the consideration of a regulation, which would mean that subsidy levels could be altered without the need for the full passage of new legislature. Currently, the Bundesrat (Germany’s upper house of parliament) has to put any proposals to scrutiny, making alterations of an even quicker nature impossible.

"The unrealistic schedule of presenting a proposed law at the end of February and as such having the law in effect by April 1 is an early April Fool," was the first reaction of Green Party energy expert Hans-Josef Fell.