In detail: EEG draft changes

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The deliberations of the German grand coalition government parties – the CDU, CSU and SPD – party leaders on Monday evening apparently made the breakthrough. The German Parliament’s Economic and Energy Committee also took part in the EEG bill discussion. On Tuesday, an EEG policy document, made available to pv magazine, finally came into circulation.

It shows that the German government has now agreed to a levy on the self consumption of electricity generation in a distributed fashion – however is not applied to plants smaller than 10kW and consumption great than 10MWh a year. Existing plants and off-grid systems are also not required to pay any EEG levy on private consumption. For everyone else it is, however, complicated.

The EEG bill now allows for a 40% levy on the self-consumption of electricity from renewable energy plants and highly efficient cogeneration (CHP) plants. For all other plants this value should be increased to 100% EEG apportionment, according to the policy document. However, a staggered introduction is planned.

To begin with, all affected plants should be charged 30% of the EEG until the end of 2015, increasing to 35& in 2016. Plants under construction at this time would also have to take this proportionate charge on in-house consumption into account. From 2017 it would then be increased according to EEG guidelines. At the same time the German government would write an evaluation of the mechanism into the EEG draft.for 2017.

However, whether the reformed legislation will come into being in this form is not at all certain. "These new regulations must be compatible with state aid rules," it says in the formulation aid.

EU involvement

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia recently called for both new and existing plants to be charged with the EEG surcharge for self-consumption. Still included in the bill is that the energy-intensive industries should only pay a 15% EEG surcharge for self-consumption. The German government wants largely to preserve industry privileges in the EEG apportionment. Contrary to original plans, the EEG levy rate for licensed end consumption should now continue at 0.05 cents per kilowatt-hour. It was supposed to have been doubled.

It appears as if the German government has reacted to criticism from Brussels. In the policy document it now reads: “In future tenders, 5% of the to-be-installed capacity should also be open for foreign projects; this is already the goal in the pilot tenders for ground-mounted systems.” A judgment from the European Court of Justice is expected, according to which foreign and domestically produced green electricity must be treated equally.

As previously reported, a swift introduction to mandatory direct marketing of electricity produced by distributed generators, including PV, is now planned. "From 2016, all plants with an output of 100 kW must market the electricity they produce directly. This strengthens the market integration of renewable energies," says the paper.

It was understood that such a move had not been planned to take effect before 2017. Also new is the following passage: "In line with European environmental and energy aid guidelines, subsidy claims for new renewable energy plants will lapse when, over an extended period (about six hours), negative stock exchange figures are recorded.” In addition, plants must in future be able to be controlled remotely.

The published EEG draft still envisages a target annual expansion range between 24 and 26 GW. The flexible ceiling mechanism is to be retained. The expiry of solar subsidies for an installed PV capacity of 52 GW is still included in the law.

The government parties will sit in special session on Tuesday to discuss the now submitted EEG bill. The final reading in the German Parliament is planned for Friday.

Translated by Kevin Campbell.