Germany: Frustration over wait for new PV storage subsidy announcement

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First of all, Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economics did not want to continue supporting battery storage for small solar PV systems, announcing at the start of November that the KfW-storage program, established in May 2013 to incentivize distributed battery storage, would be wound up on December 31, 2015.

Performing an about turn just two weeks later at the 16th Forum Solarpraxis, Volker Hoppenbrock from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economy, said a parliamentary budget committee was in fact discussing extending the subsidies. He said that while a timeframe had not been set regarding final decisions, it appeared likely the subsidies would be extended for another three years.

However, while the ministry evaluates the expired program, the industry is currently in limbo, with operators of small solar PV systems now having to wait to submit their applications.

The Federal Government will set the conditions for the orientation of the new program, based on the results and balance sheet of the old one, a government reply to a request from Green Party politician, Oliver Krischer on December 18, read. It is planned that the new PV storage program will start "as early as possible in 2016," it continued.

A ministry spokesperson confirmed to pv magazine that the time gap between the two programs should be kept to a minimum. No other details could be shared, however, although the ministry has said the new funding round is expected to end in 2018. Exact conditions will only be published in the wake of the funding announcement.

"To begin with, the PV battery storage program was not to be continued and then, actually, it is to be extended, but it is not clear when and under what conditions. This back and forth is poisonous for an innovative storage market," Krischer told pv magazine.

He is also critical of the Federal Government’s overall energy policy, which pays out billions in subsidies for fossil fuel power stations, while the renewables industry continues to be unsettled. "These energy policies leave skid marks on the expansion of renewables," he stated, adding that a seamless continuation would have been an important component for the decentralized energy revolution.

"It is already absurd not to mention the beginning of the program, but already to say when it stops," he concluded.

Translated and edited by Becky Beetz from pv magazine Deutschland