German economics minister seeks PV self-consumption readjustment

The states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg have submitted a proposal to Federal Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD), whereby the industry’s self-consumption from existing power stations should remain completely exempt from the EEG reallocation charge. This should also apply to the modernization and upgrading of equipment, urged SPD state politicians during a meeting on EEG reform with Gabriel.

Electricity from newly constructed power plants will, however, be included in the "special compensation scheme" and therefore only a greatly reduced levy will be due, as suggested by the federal states.

German Economics Minister Gabriel described it as "a clever evolution of the previous development plan." He promised North Rhine-Westphalia state premier Hannelore Kraft (SPD), state premier of Rhineland-Palatinate Malu Dreyer (SPD) and Baden-Württemberg’s Minister of Economic Affairs Nils Schmid (SPD) to introduce the proposal into the proceedings. In addition, Gabriel was confident that any additional burden on the industry would be averted.

When Gabriel published the current version of the EEG draft bill earlier this month, detailed regulation on self-consumption was omitted. Just last week a new proposal appeared, suggesting that in future, self-consumption should be divided into three sections.

According to this proposal, companies benefiting from the special compensation scheme should in future pay the privileged EEG levy on their own consumption. The second category is for companies that come from sectors for which the privileged EEG surcharge applies, but which do not meet the criteria. For self-consumption from existing and new plants, they should pay the difference between the current EEG reallocation charge, 6.24 cents per kilowatt hour this year, and that of last year, 5.277 cents per kilowatt hour. So, for the year 2014, these companies would pay 0.96 cents per kilowatt hour for self-produced and consumed electricity. Gabriel reiterated on Monday that the ministry will advocate the inclusion of new industrial in-house power plants in the "special compensation scheme" in his talks with the European Commission.

So while the industry has no reason to fear any sweeping charges for self-consumption, things looks quite different for private and commercial self-consumption plants. In last week’s Department of Energy’s draft outline, Gabriel stuck to his plan and still intends to set high charges. His original plan continues to apply, by which 90% of the EEG reallocation charge would have to be paid on new plants and 70% of the EEG reallocation charge on self-consumption in renewable energies and cogeneration plants. For existing plants, the difference between the full EEG and the 2013 EEG charge will continue to be payable.

After the meeting with the SPD state representatives, Gabriel said that incentives for the self-generation of electricity in highly efficient cogeneration plants and renewable energy systems in commercial, trade and private households should continue to be provided. He will take this into account in the conclusive EEG regulation. Specific amendments were, however, not mentioned. The cabinet will adopt the EEG bill in about two weeks’ time.

In a statement, the Federal Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar) criticized Gabriel’s plans. The self-consumption of solar power for homes and businesses must remain completely exempt from the EEG reallocation charge in future. This must also be the case in models where solar power would be delivered directly to tenants.

"It’s a crying shame! The ‘polluter pays principle’ has been turned on its head," said Carsten Körnig, Chief Executive of BSW-Solar. "The biggest perpetrators behind greenhouse gases are to remain largely free from the costs of the energy transition, while the majority of future solar power plant operators will be asked to pay three to five times as much."

Article translated by Kevin Campbell.