October 14, 2012

German Environment Minister plans to reform Renewable Energy Act

With a focus already on federal elections in September 2013, German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier wants to push a common legislative initiative with the goal to limit steadily rising energy costs for consumers and to better coordinate the further expansion of renewables in Germany. In a paper presented today, he proposes to reform the current renewable energy act (EEG). This, according to the minister, should be done in a transparent process by hearing stakeholders as well as the 16 Laender.

The legal definition of temporal and quantitative expansion goals for renewable energies is a major goal of the reform plan. For the year 2050, the goal should remain to reach an 80% share on renewable energies, according to the paper. However, the expansion of renewables to reach this goal should go in consistent steps in order to avoid an overheating. Altmaier also thinks about adjustments regarding the specific renewable energy sources, and takes the already existing limitation of FiT for PV to a total installed 52GW in Germany as an example for wind and biomass subsidies.

At the same time the achievement of marketability should be codified as a target in the proposal, which makes clear that renewable energies cannot be permanently dependent on subsidies, if the energy transition will succeed.

Furthermore, according to the minister, the new EEG needs to emphasize the adjustment of the expansion of renewables by providing opportunities to geographically and regionally control expansion in order to go in line with grid expansion.

Also, since Altmaier doesn’t expect the enacting of a separate law on energy storage in short term, he proposes to include this topic in the revised EEG, as well.

The background of the initiative is to limit the costs of the energy turnaround (Energiewende) in Germany. The costs of implementation of renewables into the energy mix through FiT systems are being carried by the industry and – for the most part – by the population that both pay a higher electricity bill through an “EEG Apportionment” scheme. Just recently, it was announced that the EEG apportionment will significantly rise from now 3.5 Eurocents/kWh to 5.3 Eurocents/kWh next year. Also, according to many critics of the current system, the law includes too many exceptions to the EEG appointment for so-called energy intensive industries.

On the background of the rising costs of the energy turnaround for consumers and growing criticism on the exceptions to the apportionment for all kinds of enterprises, Altmaier was forced to make a proposal. But also his coalition partner, the liberal party (FDP), has become impatient with the current layout of the renewable energy law.


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