German Bundesrat calls for PV subsidy mediation committee

Shortly before the Nordrhein-Westfalen elections, Federal Environment Minister, Norbert Röttgen (CDU) must admit a bitter defeat. A spokesperson has confirmed that in the Bundesrat (Federal Council), a majority vote called for a mediation committee to be established for improvements to photovoltaic subsidies.

With regards to the beginning of the negotiations on a compromise and the duration of the procedure, they could not comment, however. It is now up to the chairman of the mediation committee to set the procedure. CDU (Christian Democratic Union) state chairman of Baden-Württemberg, Thomas Strobl and SPD (Social Democratic Party) Mayor of Bremen, Jens Böhrnsen will undertake the leadership in the Bundestag and Bundesrat, respectively.

The mediation committee of 16 representatives from the Bundesrat and parliament will now consult on a compromise for photovoltaic subsidies. They must then be voted on again in both the parliament and state courts. The Bundesrat’s lead environment committee already recommended the establishment of a mediation committee in its final meeting, held in late April. It is necessary for a "fundamental revision of the law" it said.

The environment committee sees the need for photovoltaic subsidy improvements in several places: "The cap for subsidized plants and reduction in tariffs should be designed, so that a dramatic loss of jobs in Germany’s solar industry does not occur. Furthermore, the market integration model for solar plants should be removed."

Moreover, the Bundesrat’s economic committee has recommended that the new changes should enter into force on June 1, 2012, instead of April 1.

Prior to the decision, all attempts by the Federal Government to wave through the new EEG failed, just like the attempts of the east German minister presidents to place pressure on the CDU to agree. Many solar companies are currently located in the union party states of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringa. In the more underdeveloped regions, the solar industry represents one of the largest employers.

Shortly before the decision, Röttgen, again trying to look at the current energy prices, tried to advertise the drastic photovoltaic cuts. "I think, therefore, that it is imperative that we share price declines in the market to consumers, as they exist in photovoltaics," he told German news agency, dapd.

Phillip Rösler, FDP leader and economics minister, and who helped Röttgen with the original plans, sharply criticized the environment minister. "There is great anger at Röttgen, because he is unable to assert his position," one FDP representative told Reuters. "This shows how little influence he has."

Translated by Becky Stuart.