German RE surcharge hits homes

Green groups are appalled about an apparent new compromise among government coalition parties to keep a surcharge to finance the expansion of renewables (EEG surcharge) at 40% in the case of self-consumed energy, but also extend it to home owners. 

"The self-consumption of cleanly produced electricity relieves grids and the EEG account in favour of citizens and companies," says Hermann Falk, managing director of the German Federation for Renewable Energy BEE.

"A kind of punitive tariff therefore is wrong. The economics ministry's owns studies prove that."

A previous proposal by energy minister Sigmar Gabriel had set the rate for producers who consume their own renewable energy at 50% of the €0.062 ($0.084) rate per kilowatt hour normal power consumers pay. For heavy industries, the rate was set at only 15%, however.

Only small rooftop PV installations of up to 10kW would have been exempt from what renewable groups call the "solar tax" under the previous proposal.

That proposal was rejected by Germany's less-influential upper house of parliament that demanded to limit the fee for all consumers of self-produced energy at 15% of the full surcharge.

The new coalition compromise foresees to scrap the exemption for small rooftop installations, however, and charge 40% across the board, which would translate into about €0.025 per kWh of self-consumed electricity.

Oliver Krischer, deputy floor leader of the opposition Green party, said the measure would create massive and unnecessary bureaucracy.

"It is absurd to support solar energy and combined cycles on the one hand, and then tax it again on the other," he said, adding that to control the payment by millions of small rooftop installations, the state would need many new employees.