Leading Energy Experts Call on Parliament to Change EEG Feed-in Tariffs

In an unprecedented move, leading energy experts appealed to Members of Parliament to quickly and extensively reform the energy promotion scheme so as to reduce the exploding costs and save the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), Süddeutsche Zeitung reports.

In Germany, the Renewable Energy Sources Act (Erneuerbare Energien Gesetz – EEG) promotes renewable energy mainly by stipulating feed-in tariffs that grid operators must pay for renewable energy fed into the power grid. Consumers have to bear the difference between market prices for renewable energy and the feed-in tariffs pursuant to the EEG, in particular by paying a so-called EEG reallocation charge.

As of January 2011, electricity consumers will have to pay a 72% higher EEG reallocation charge (EEG Umlage) of 3.53 Cent/kWh, the transmission system operators announced in October. The 72% increase from previously 2.047 Cent/kWh is mainly due to skyrocketing costs for additional solar capacities, despite a regular yearly degression of feed-in tariffs and two additional solar feed-in tariff cuts in July and October 2010. A total of 3.9 GW of new solar capacity were installed in 2009 (2008: 2 GW). The transmission system operators forecast additional solar capacities of about 9.5 MW for 2010. They are supported by the findings of the Federal Network Agency, the German grid regulator.

Therefore, the signatories of the letter demand a swift reduction of solar feed-in tariffs and call for abolishing certain privileges with regard to the EEG reallocation charge. Major PV systems above 100 kW shall also provide system services, as otherwise local grid problems would arise. The changes should not wait until the scheduled 2012 amendment of the EEG, but should be implemented much more quickly, as part of the currently discussed (more technical) EEG revision in the context of the European renewable energies directive (Directive 2009/28/EC). In principle, the due date for transposition of this directive was 5 December 2010.

The signatories include the research coordinator of the Ökoinstitut (Institute for Applied Ecology), Felix Mattes, the Vice-President of Wuppertaler Instituts für Klima, Umwelt und Energie (Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Enery), Manfred Fischedick, Professor Claudia Kemfert, Head of the Energy Department of German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Professor Eberhard Jochem of ETH Zürich and the Head of the Fraunhofer-Institute Institute for Wind Energy, Jürgen Schmid, all of them proponents of renewable energy.

Renewable energies in Germany were at a crossroads, Süddeutsche quotes the experts as saying. The expansion of photovoltaics had to be limited by introducing lower feed-in tariffs or else “one would be left in 2012/2013 to pick up the pieces of the expansion of renewable energies as a whole”. As of 2011, new solar capacities had to be capped at 3.5 GW per year, feed-in tariffs cut much further and the “green electricity privilege (Grünstromprivileg) abolished. The green electricity privilege exempts electricity suppliers that purchase the majority of their electricity from renewable energy sources from the EEG reallocation charge.

Not surprisingly, the German solar industry, which heavily relies on feed-in tariff support, is not necessarily pleased by potential further cuts. Süddeutsche quotes Solarworld’s CEO Frank Assbeck as warning politicians that further cuts would be “stupid and destructive”. However, the trade association BSW Solar has reportedly also submitted its own suggestions for cuts to Federal Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen.

Sources: Süddeutsche Zeitung; SolarServer

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