German states rebuff levy plan

A majority of German states in committees of the upper chamber of parliament, the Bundesrat, has voted against a plan by the federal government to introduce a levy on the own consumption of self-produced renewable energy, also labelled the “solar tax", the industry federation BSW Solar says.

A proposal by energy minister Sigmar Gabriel to reform the country’s Renewable Energies Act (EEG) that is currently being discussed in parliament for the first time wants to extend a surcharge to finance the expansion of renewables to include self-consumed electricity.

The draft stipulates that producers of renewable energies would be burdened with 50% of the surcharge, or about €0.032 ($0.044) per kilowatt hour. Only small rooftop PV installations of up to 10kW will be exempt.

The BSW has argued that the levy would choke of the promising market for self-consumption of solar energy at a moment when self-consumption is increasingly attractive as solar feed-in tariffs (FITs) are declining while electricity prices soar.

A majority of ten out of 16 state environment ministers as well as eight agriculture ministers have voted for limiting the levy on self-consumption to between 15% and 20% of the renewables surcharge, which would translate to €0.009-0.012/kWh of self-consumed RE, the BSW says.

“The plans for a ‘solar tax’ need to get off the table fast to stop a market collapse in PV,” says BSW managing director Carsten Körnig.

The Bundesrat can’t stop the passage of the EEG reform once it is approved by Germany’s more important lower house, the Bundestag, but it can delay it.