EEG Clearing Agency Clarifies Requirements for Premium on Hydro Power Feed-in Tariffs

Pursuant to Section 23 Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG 2009) operators of hydropower plants commissioned prior to 1 January 2009 and modernised after 31 December 2008 can claim feed-in tariffs that differ and are (on the whole) higher than the regular fixed feed-in tariffs the EEG provides for hydro power plants. Clearingstelle EEG (EEG Clearing Agency), which serves interested parties with regard to the interpretation and disputes relating to the EEG, has now clarified the requirements under which the special feed-in tariffs are paid.

In a decision regarding an individual case, the EEG held that

  • Modernisations in the sense of Section 23 para. 2 EEG 2009 are not limited to structural or technical changes, but can also consist of organisational changes;
  • A certificate issued by an environmental auditor (Umweltgutachter) provides the refutable presumption that the modernisation fulfills the requirements under Section 23 EEG, i.e. it leads to a good ecological status or a substantial improvement of the previous status has demonstrably been brought about;
  • However, the certificate must fulfill formal minimum requirements (which are further detailed by the EEG Clearing Agency) in order to create the refutable presumption described above;
  • In addition, the certificate has to be objectively verifiable, free of contradictions and consistent (again the EEG Clearing Agency further eleborates);
  • Grid operators may not replace the findings of the environmental auditors regarding the ecological status of the plant or substantial improvements after the modernisation by individual assessments;
  • Should grid operators doubt the certificate provided, the EEG Clearing Agency recommends that the plant operator agrees with the grid operator to provide further evidence by an environmental auditor;
  • Grid operators are free to suggest that a supervisory procedure be carried out by the German Association for the Accreditation and Registration of Environmental Auditors, should they be in doubt about the trustworthiness, the independence or the competence of the auditor.

The EEG has been revised recently in connection with Germany’s shift in its energy policy following the Fukushima nuclear accident. As of 1 January 2012 the revised EEG 2012 will enter into force. With respect to hydro power feed-in tariffs have been simplified and a uniform remuneration period of 20 years for all plants irrespective of the capacity has been introduced. Plants commissioned before 1 January 2009 can receive the new tariffs (certain limitations apply) under certain conditions, in particular if the installed capacity or the performance have been enhanced after 31 December 2011.

Source: Clearingstelle EEG

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