Gabriel 'open on surcharge' – SMA

German energy minister Sigmar Gabriel in talks with inverter-maker SMA Solar Technologies has shown some willingness to compromise over his plans to extend a surcharge to finance the build-up of renewables (EEG surcharge) to self-consumed electricity, the company said.

“The minister has defended his plans to impose self-consumption with a surcharge, but has shown willingness to compromise in regards to the level of the surcharge,” SMA says.

Current planning in the wake of a reform of Germany’s Renewable Energies Act (EEG) foresees that regular users of self-consumed electricity in the future will have to pay 50% of the EEG surcharge that currently is set at €0.062 per kilowatt hour.

Energy-intensive industries will have to pay 15% of the levy according to the most recent plans.

Officials at the German energy ministry had no immediate comment when approached by Recharge Tuesday.

Representatives of the solar industry indicated to Recharge that the levy on self-consumption is still being discussed between the industry and the government in Berlin.

The cabinet earlier this month approved a draft of the EEG reform that includes the surcharge on self-consumption of energy for the first time. Parliament is expected to vote on the reform before the summer recess.

Germany’s solar energy federation BSW Solar has repeatedly warned that the levy on self-consumption would choke off the already decreasing solar market in the country.

“Jobs are at stake not only in the energy-intensive industry,” says Günther Häckl, general manager at SMA and chairman of the BSW Solar.

Gabriel, after warning of massive job losses in German industry, has managed to obtain a green light from the European Commission for Germany to continue to grant energy intensive industries generous exemptions from the payment of the EEG surcharge for regular electricity they buy.

The exemptions currently amount to several billion euros per year, pushing the value of the EEG surcharge higher for all other power consumers, such as households or small- and medium-sized companies.