Overview German Energy Law

German energy law covers a variety of energy related subjects and legal areas. There is no single codification of German energy law. Instead, German energy law can be found in various statutes, ordinances and other provisions. Many areas of German energy law are heavily influenced by European energy law.

The Renewable Energy Sources Act (Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz – EEG ) – meanwhile in its 2014 version – is widely know for its renewable energy support regime. However, core provisions of German energy law are contained in the German Energy Act of 7 July 2005 (Gesetz über die Elektrizitäts- und Gasversorgung – Energiewirtschaftsgesetz – EnWG). Its main objectives are laid down in § 1 EnWG. The law aims at ensuring a safe, cost-effective, consumer-friendly, efficient and environmentally-friendly supply of power and gas as well as efficient and unrestricted competition and the safeguarding of an effective and reliable operation of power grids.

According to § 4 EnWG, the operation of a power grid (Energieversorgungsnetz) requires a permit. Distribution on the other hand is only subject to a notification to the regulatory authority by the operator prior to the start of operations.

The EnWG ist also the legal basis for numerous ordinances that further specify requirement from the EnWG. The EnWG and the new Incentive Regulation Ordinance (Anreizregulierungsverordnung – ARegV) provide for a revenue-cap regulation regarding the operation of the grid. Based on the EnWG, several additional ordinances have been enacted. The  Electricity Grid Access Ordinance (Stromnetzzugangsverordnung – StromNZV) and the Gas Grid Access Ordinance (Gasnetzzugangsverordnung – GasNVZ) regulate access to the grid, and the Electricity Grid Charges Ordinance (Stromnetzentgeltverordnung – StromNEV) and the Gas Grid Charges Ordinance (Gasnetzentgeltverordnung GasNEV) regulate the fees. By setting rules for an unbundling of vertically integrated utilities (cf. §§ 6 et seqq), EnWG further promotes competition. Further ordinances based on the EnWG are listed in the overview given below.

The task of regulating Germany’s electricity and gas markets has primarily been assigned to the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur). For utilities with less than 100,000 customers in only one federal state, the competent authorities are the state regulatory offices.

Various other statutes and ordinances also contribute to the energy law framework:

Please note that English translations linked below are only convenience translations, and that the translations may not (and often do not) reflect the latest amendments. Furthermore, please note that only the German texts are binding, and that an English translation may not fully or correctly reflect the German text.  Therefore, reliance on merely the English translations may lead to an incorrect understanding of the relevant German text.

Furthermore, various other statutes and ordinances contain provisions that are important for energy production and consumption.  This includes inter alia: