Bundestag and Bundesrat to Vote on Solar Feed-in Tariff Cuts 29/30 March – Latest Changes

On Thursday, 29 March 2012, the second and third reading of the latest bill amending the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) will take place in the German Bundestag (Parliament). The bill shall reduce solar feed-in tariffs substantially. A day later, the Bundesrat (Federal Council) is scheduled to deal with a resolution on the bill.

According to a press release by the vice-chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary party group and a revised draft amendment for the EEG, the ruling CDU/CSU/FDP coalition has agreed to the following changes to the previous EEG amendment bill.

  • The protection of legitimate expectations (Vertrauensschutz) shall be increased.
    • Roof-top installations for which an application for grid connection was submitted before 24 February 2012 will receive the currently applicable feed-in tariff, provided they will be put in operation by 30 June 2012.
    • For free-standing PV plants on conversions areas like waste disposal sites or former military areas the grace period will run until 30 September 2012.
  • A one time reduction for new installations shall take effect on 1 April 2012 (unless the above grandfathering rules apply). It limits feed-in tariffs for new roof-top installations to 19.5 ct/kWh for plants up to 10 kW, to 16.5 ct/kWh for plants up to 1,000 kW and to 13.5 ct/kWh for plants up to 10 MW. Freestanding standing plants up to 10 MW shall all receive 13.5 ct/kWh. New plants with a capacity of more than 10 MW are no longer eligible for feed-in tariffs.
    • The monthly further reduction shall however not amount to 0.15 ct/kWh (starting in May 2012) but by a base degression of 1% per month (Section 20b(1) EEG amendment)
    • Furthermore, the “breathing cap” (atmender Deckel) shall be reintroduced.
      • If the expansion corridors (2,500-3,500 MW in 2012/2013, 2,100-3,100 MW in 2014, 1,700-2,700 MW in 2015, 1,300-2,300 MW in 2016, and 900-1,900 MW in 2017, Section 20a(1) revised draft amendment) are exceeded, a sliding scale of fixed percentage reductions shall apply (Section 20b revised draft amendment).
      • Details of the reduction mechanism are complex and not easy to understand at first reading. In principle, it appears as if amendments may take place every three months and are valid for a three-month period.
      • If the expansion remains beyond the thresholds, tariffs are raised.
    • All changes will be calculated in percentage points and not in ct/kwh as proposed in the first draft.
    • Based on the justification given in the revised draft amendment, the proposal, for 2012 and 2013, will translates into a slightly increased base reduction of 11.4% annually if solar growth stays within the target corridor and can be as high as 29% for growth of more than 7,500 MW.
    • The new system shall prevent “seasonal sales” (Schlussverkäufe).
  • Unlike the first draft, the amendment no longer contains the disputed competence for the government to issue ordinances to faster adjust monthly reductions and tariffs in case the solar expansion deviates from the target corridor. Neither does the amendment contain another competence to issue ordinances with which the so-called market integration model for solar energy (see next bullet point) would have been adjustable and extendable to other kinds of renewable energy.
  • To increase the self-consumption of solar power generated by small roof-top installations, the new so-called market integration provision (Section 33) has been tightened. While the first draft stipulated that small roof-top installations up to 10 kW should receive feed-in tariff payments only for 85% of the energy generated in one calendar year, starting 1 January 2013, the percentage is lowered to 80% in the revised amendment proposal. Plants with a capacity of more than 10 kW up to 1 MW shall only received feed-in tariffs for 90% of the energy generated (no change). Plants with a capacity of 1 MW and more shall, however, no longer be obliged to market any of the energy themselves. They shall receive feed-in tariffs for the total amount of power generated.
  • PV installation in outer areas (Außenbereichen) on animal sheds or new farms will be treated like solar power plants on residential housing. In contrast, facilities that are built with the sole purpose of housing a photovoltaic power plant shall only receive the lower feed-in tariff for freestanding installations (no change).
  • In derogation of the initial draft, the amendment proposes that freestanding installations in two different municipalities shall not be considered as one plant even in case of proximity and hence not receive the tariff for one plant.
  • For technical reasons, feed-in management also for PV installations below 100 kW shall not be required before 1 January 2013.
  • Further amendments relate to payments of interest by companies on the EEG reallocation charge, the exchange of solar modules and further editorial changes.

Due to the agreement, broad support by the government parties is expected in the Bundestag. After the compromise, approval by those state governments in the Bundesrat with conservative/liberal governments also seems certain, despite the fact that some states with conservative/liberal governments like Saxony are home to solar companies. Although the government parties do not hold a majority in the Bundesrat, a lack of consent can ultimately be remedied by another Bundestag’s vote in favour of the bill, as it is only a so-called Einspruchsgesetz (“objection law”), not a Zustimmungsgesetz (“consent law”) that expressly requires consent.

Source: Bundestag; Bundesrat; Revised Draft Amendment EEG (as provided by Green Party Member Hans-Joachim Fell); CDU/CSU parliamentary group press release

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1 Response to “Bundestag and Bundesrat to Vote on Solar Feed-in Tariff Cuts 29/30 March – Latest Changes”

  • On what base do they measure the energy generated by a plant that exchanges part of the energy on-site for own consumption? I new that in Germany there are not two meters installed (like in Italy: one for the produced energy right after the inverter for the FIT and one at the grid border for the feed-in-grid energy metering), or am I wrong?
    Thank you.

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