Optimism and criticism aimed at Germany’s new PV subsidies

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Peter Altmaier of Germany’s Christian Democrat Union (CDU) is positive about the progress of photovoltaic subsidies in the country. "That was a good day for energy transition in Germany," he said. "For us, it is important that renewable energies are competitive. I am optimistic that solar power without subsidies will be market ready in a few years."

He again verified the results, which have been reached by the federal and state governments in the mediation committee. Besides the introduction of the new plant class between 10 and 40 kW, the market integration model for photovoltaic plants smaller than 10 kW has been removed.

Meanwhile, in the future, subsidies for 90 percent of the energy for plants between 10 kW and one MW will be paid, and the rest must be sold by the individuals. This rule applies to all photovoltaic systems that have been grid connected on or after April 1. However, the rule will only be valid from January 1, 2014, and until then, the full amount of the fed-in solar electricity will be paid.

Furthermore, with regards to the proposed subsidy limitation for solar systems over 10 MW, there should be an exception. "In the EEG, there will be regulatory power, which allows the federal government, with the consent of the Bundesrat and Bundestag, to introduce a subsidy for plants with a capacity of more than 10 MW," continued Altmaier.

He added that the transition period remains unchanged for roof systems that have made a connection request before February 24, and for ground-mounted plants, where the planning process was begun before March 1.

If there is no objection to the new law, it should retroactively come into force on April 1, and will be published this Friday in Germany’s Federal Gazette, following the final decision of the Bundesrat (federal council).

Criticism

In response to the compromise, economic policy spokesman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, Joachim Pfeiffer and coordinator for energy politics for the CDU/CSU, Thomas Bareiß commented that it was a "major step". However, they both believe that the planned changes are not sufficient and, thus, have renewed their calls for a photovoltaic capacity cap to be introduced.

"For now, despite the success of the remuneration adjustment, the amendments are not suitable to effectively limit growth," they said. They added that it was particularly regrettable that the "much needed market integration" of photovoltaic plants was moved to 2014, and completely removed for smaller installations of up to 10 kW.

According to Pfeiffer and Bareiß, the return on investment for photovoltaic systems is "still too high". "Therefore, this year can also expect a new record for photovoltaic installations," said the CDU politicians.

On a positive note, they did welcome the newly introduced phase out of subsidies once an installed capacity of 52 GW is reached. "Thus, the terror has an end, even if it is very expensively bought through high economic costs, and the aim is too high. Whether concerns about a further explosion in costs can be prevented, will be demonstrated in autumn. Initial projections assume a significant increase in the EEG surcharge."

Similar remarks have also arisen from the Free Democrat (FDP) party. Spokesman, Michael Kauch, commented, "Despite this agreement, the EEG surcharge for electricity consumers will increase in the next year. The policy will be achieved with the reform of the solar subsidies, but a moderate price increase."

Translated and edited by Becky Beetz.