Germany: Resistance at first parliamentary FIT discussion

Even after the slight changes in the draft by the coalition parties – Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Free Democratic Party (FDP) – the photovoltaic feed-in tariff (FIT) plans, unsurprisingly, met with resistance from the opposition.

Ulrich Kelber (SPD) said the changes attacked planning reliability, the development of goals for renewable energies and the EEG in general. Meanwhile, he considers the extension of the tariff cut deadline from March 9 to April 1 to be "less than nothing".

Kelber also sharply criticized the wish of Norbert Röttgen to fast track tariff changes without prior parliamentary approval. This leads to a loss of power in the Bundestag and brings into question the reliability of the EEG, he said. Furthermore, he believes this regulation will lead to higher interest rate risks at banks, as well as to less investment and, thus, expansion of renewable energies.

In principal, he is not opposed to a reduction in remuneration. However, he believes that compensation should not be lowered to the point where German-made solar modules cannot be sold. "We expect an anti-dumping policy from the Ministry," he said in his speech.

The Left party appeared at the first reading of the FIT proposals with its own plans for the promotion of solar energy in Germany. Under the title, "Courage to leave the solar age", it made several suggestions. These included: the withdrawal of plans for additional FIT cuts; the discharge of EEG allocation for energy-intensive industries; and the reform of the current trade system so that the decreasing prices of renewables in the electricity market are not reflected as a price driver of the EEG allocation.

Gregor Gysi of the Left Party further accused the government of acting solely in the interests of the four major energy suppliers, which to date, have only invested in offshore wind farms and biogas plants – exactly where the government is moving the subsidies now.

Regulatory power in the government debated

When it came to discussing fast tracking FIT cuts, even representatives of the coalition government relented, in part. George Nüßlein, from the CDU/CSU (Christian Social Union) parliamentary group, said that they would re-think the handover of power to make FIT cuts without prior approval. Maria Flachsbarth, also from the CDU/CSU, additionally questioned the belief that regulatory power is useful for short-term tariff cuts, while Michael Kauch (FDP) said he believed it is right to limit the originally proposed regulatory power. He further stressed the importance of maintaining legitimate companies and investors in Germany.

In terms of the second decree authorizing the reduction of the proportion of subsidized electricity, which may impact on other renewable energies too, the coalition government itself has not provided a clear policy response.

A final decision on Germany’s new FIT is palnned for March 30. Regardless of the outcome, another extension of the tariff deadline will not be applied, according to Michael Kauch. "We will not agree to a further extension beyond April 1," he said in his speech.

Translated and edited by Becky Stuart.