Germany approves pilot tenders for ground-mounted PV plants

The new law regulating tenders for renewable energy subsidies comes just in time for the scheme’s scheduled start in April.

Chancellor Angele Merkel’s cabinet on Wednesday adopted a draft law regulating tenders for ground-mounted PV installations. The first auction round is set for April 15.

The Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagetur) will oversee the tender process and carry out three tender rounds from 2015 to 2017. The government plans to realize an average of some 400 MW a year of ground-mounted installations. This year the agency will tender 500 MW, followed by 400 MW in 2016 and 300 MW in 2017. If the annual target capacity is not reached, the following year’s tender will be adjusted accordingly.

The federal government will use the pilot tender scheme to gain experience as it gradually transforms the country’s entire support system for renewable energy.

Sigmar Gabriel, federal minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, said the government has created an initial basis for a competitive support system for renewable energy. In a second step in 2017, federal subsidies for other renewable energy sources will likewise be changed to a tender system. Gabriel said the tender process would make renewable energy capacity expansion targets more planable and cost-efficient.

While the energy minister has said the tender process will help maintain the diversity of players in the industry, although the view has been widely challenged by Germany’s solar sector.