Capital Stage, Belectric welcome German energy minister's proposals


German renewable energy investment group Capital Stage has welcomed proposals German Economics and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel to reform the country's Renewable Energy Act (EEG).

Gabriel's plans, unveiled earlier this week, call for self-consumption fees, feed-in tariff cuts, the introduction of a PV tender system, limits on new capacity expansion and the introduction of mandatory direct marketing, requiring operators of new plants to sell their electricity directly.

The proposal, which Gabriel is presenting to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet this week, has riled much of the country’s solar and wind industry.

However, Capital Stage said, "Especially the determination on binding expansion targets for renewable energies, the unrestricted preservation of protection for existing plants as well as the focus on the most cost-effective technologies, PV and onshore wind, are important fundamentals and signals for investors."

The Hamburg-based solar and wind park operator also welcomed the fact that clarity in numerous sectors had alread been generated with the first draft.

Capital Stage CEO Felix Goedhart added,"It is positive that Federal Minister Gabriel is tackling the subject EEG 2.0 determinedly already after a few weeks in office, as from our point of view as an investor, clearness is of paramount importance."

Goedhart emphasized that Capital Stage's corporate interest remained focused on its existing assets rather than future projects.

"The speciality of our business model lies in the concentration on existing parks. In this respect a change of feed-in-tariffs for new plants does not affect us directly. Furthermore, we are invested in Italy and France as well and are therefore to a large extent independent from developments in Germany."

Capital Stage states on its website that it "focuses on investments in solar parks and wind farms, mainly in Germany, but also in other European countries that operate with stable feed-in tariff (FIT) systems."

The group, the largest independent solar park operator in Germany, operates 34 solar parks and five wind farms with a total output of 241 MW.

Meanwhile, German solar company Belectric is calling for the immediate implementation of the proposed tender model for ground-mounted PV plants called for in Gabriel’s proposal.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Belectric CEO Bernhard Beck said, "We support the government plans to revive the segment of ground-mounted solar power plants as one of the cheapest forms of electricity generation in Germany. The future of ground-mounted solar power plants as the most cost-effective solar power and a German export success in the renewable energy industry is at stake if the competitiveness of ground-mounted solar power plants is not restored soon."

Therefore, it's necessary that the proposals be implemented as soon as possible, Beck added.

Gabriel is calling for an end to feed-in tariffs by 2017, to be replaced by a tender system for ground-mounted plants.

Beck said an immediate implementation of the new model, would allow the industry enough time to evaluate and gain experience with the system. "The evaluation of tender models takes time, so the federal government should not wait two more years," he added.

The Belectric chief stressed that transparency, competition and comprehensible criteria (socio – economic, ecological and systemic) must form the cornerstone the design in the model’s implementation, adding that it also had to ensure European Union legal compliance.

"Determining the price through a tender offers a great chance to offer the real market price," Beck said. “But for that you need understandable and applicable rules."

Merkel's cabinet is expected to approve a draft law based on the the proposals in April. The bill will then go to the Bundestag, which will vote on it in June.

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