Mediation Committee Compromise for Solar Feed-in Tariff Reduction

The Mediation Committee of the Bundestag (Parliament) and the Bundesrat (Federal Council) has finally reached an agreement on the controversial issue of solar feed-in tariff cuts. The agreement introduces a cap on solar feed-in tariffs at 52 GW and a new solar feed-in tariff of 18.50 ct/kWh (instead of 16.50 ct/kWh) for rooftop plants with a capacity between 10 kW to 40 kW. Cuts shall enter into force retroactively on 1 April 2012.

All other one-time tariff cuts cuts of between 20% to 30% approved by Parliament, but rejected by the Federal Council seem to have been mainly been agreed on.

The Bundesrat’s press release explicitly mentions that new plants with a capacity of more than 10 MW shall no longer be eligible for feed-in tariffs and says that the agreement proposes to slightly change the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) insofar as several freestanding solar power plants can be considered as one in the sense of the EEG if they are located within a distance of 2 km instead of 4 km.

The agreement also proposes to introduce a cap on solar feed-in tariff support at 52 GW, the government’s target for 2020. Almost 28 GW have meanwhile been reached, according to recent reports (the Federal Network Agency reported an installed capacity of solar power plants amounting to 26.5 GW in Q1 2012).

The Bundesrat’s press release points out that below the new 52 GW target the annual growth target corridor of between 2,500 to 3,500 MW shall remain unchanged “without further reductions”. Solar growth in 2010 and 2011 far exceeded this target and sparked several rounds of solar feed-in tariff cuts. It remains to be seen whether the compromise contains new provisions on enforcing the target corridor.

The Bundesrat also informs that the government pledged to set up a new support programme providing loans at reduced rates of interest for decentralised storage facilities. To this end the government reportedly wants to provide funds of EUR 50 million as of 1 January. Besides, the government seems to have announced to raise funding for research into regenerative energy systems, application-oriented photovoltaic systems and production technologies considerably. The pledges have been made in a statement for the minutes, and are not part of the formal compromise of the Mediation Committee, the Bundesrat points out.

The full text of the compromise is available here. The compromise proposal is on the agenda of the Bundestag for 28 June 2012.

In light of the apparent retroactive effect of changes as of 1 April 2012, it is not unlikely that the constitutionality of at least some changes will be questioned.

The proposal by the Mediation Committee was approved by Parliament on 28 June 2012, but still needs approval from the Federal Council. The Bundesrat is scheduled to decide on the proposal this Friday, 29 June 2012.

[updated]

Source: Bundesrat

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