Bundestag Debates Implementation of Energiewende – Solar Feed-in Tariff Cut Timetable

Almost a year after the Fukushima nuclear accident and the subsequent German energy policy shift, the Bundestag (German Parliament) debated a wide-ranging motion by Alliance ’90/The Greens (ref. no. 17/8898) entitled “A Year after Fukushima – the Energy Revolution Has to Continue”. In the ensuing debate the government coalition and the opposition discussed the progress made on the energy policy shift. The recent proposal for solar feed-in tariff cuts was among the many issues discussed.

The Green Party motion was aimed at adopting a Bundestag resolution asking the government to support the Fukushima victims, implement the withdrawal from nuclear energy in Germany and on an international level, accelerate the expansion of renewable energy (new target for 2020: over 45%), increase energy efficiency in line with EU proposals and provide adequate funding.

According to the energy information provider energate, the leader of the parliamentary party of the Green Party in the Bundestag, Jürgen Trittin, called the government’s energy policy a declaration of political bankruptcy in view of the proposed (solar) feed-in tariff cuts, the government’s position with regard to the EU energy efficiency proposal (which includes the obligation of energy suppliers to achieve annual energy savings equal to 1.5% of their energy sales) and on an increase of the European CO2 reduction level to 30%. Representatives of the Social Democrats also  accused the government of impeding the nuclear power withdrawal and the energy revolution by underfunding the Energy and Climate Fund (which provides funding for many of the energy restructuring projects), and financing the construction of a Brazilian nuclear power plant by a German guarantee.

Not surprisingly, representatives of the ruling CDU/CSU and FDP coalition defended the government’s policy. With regard to the solar feed-in tariff cuts, for which a first reading took place today, they pointed out the need for such cuts in view of the rising consumer prices due to high numbers of new installations in 2011. Otherwise further increases of the so-called EEG reallocation charge with which electricity consumers pay for the difference between the guaranteed solar feed-in tariffs and the revenue obtained by the sale of the electricity at the EEX energy exchange would lead to a declining support of renewables by consumers, endangering the energy shift.

The Alliance 90’/The Greens motion was referred to the Environmental Committee of the Bundestag.

Regarding the solar feed-in tariff cuts, the timetable currently looks like this (based inter alia on information of Green Party Bundestag representative Hans-Josef Fell, one of the mentors of the original version of the Renewable Energy Sources Act – EEG):

  • 9 March 2012: First Bundestag reading, referral to Environment Committee
  • 21 March 2012: Hearing by Environment Committee
  • 28 March 2012: Vote in Environment Committee
  • End of March: Second and third reading and vote in Bundestag, referral to Federal Council (Bundesrat)
  • 11 May 2012: As a decision by the Bundesrat is not likely in the next session on 30 March due to time constraints, the debate of the draft will most probably take place on 11 May 2012.

The bill is not a so-called Zustimmungsgesetz (“consent law”), for which consent by the Bundesrat is required under German constitutional law. Instead it is a so-called Einspruchsgesetz (“objection law”), which means that a lack of consent can ultimately be remedied by another Bundestag’s vote in favour of the bill. How long this would take cannot be said at this point.

Sources: Bundestag (short press communication – hib), Bundestag (information prior to debate), energate