Germany: PV FIT cap snuck in through the back door

The FIT proposal, presented by Ministers Norbert Röttgen and Philipp Rösler last week in Berlin, and approved by the Cabinet (Bundeskabinett) yesterday, includes an small, yet significant addition to the placement of photovoltaic systems.

The two Ministers basically want to redefine what an individual photovoltaic system means. Consequently, if ground-mounted photovoltaic systems under 10 megawatts (MW) want to receive an individual tariff, they must either be located a minimum of four kilometers from one other – measured from the outer edge of each plant – or be built at least 24 calendar months apart.

Regardless of ownership, if project developers do not adhere to these rules, they will have to share a tariff. And, if a new system is installed either too close, or before 24 months is up, they run the risk of receiving no, or a reduced, tariff.

The aim is to prevent project developers from building a series of systems, 10 MW or under, next to each other. However, in reality, it could mean that individual projects are counted together, irrelevant of who the owner is.

For example, Company A builds a three MW photovoltaic park in a large field in Brandenburg on May 1, 2012. Along comes Company B, eight months later, and builds a five MW park three kilometers away from Company A. Another seven months goes by, and then Company C decides it will build a six MW park next to Companies A and B. Companies A and B will receive a tariff for their two individual systems. However, Company C will receive a tariff for just one MW of energy produced from its system.

While the Cabinet has approved the plans, the matter is still to be discussed in Parliament.