Germany may hold PV tender

Germany’s incoming government plans to try out a tendering model for new ground-based PV arrays via an auction of a total 400MW of capacity to be held “at the latest in 2016”, according to a preliminary version of the energy section of the coalition contract seen by Recharge.

The objective of a PV tender would be to gain experience in auctions and find out whether via that method the targets of Germany’s Energiewende – the move away from nuclear to renewables – can be achieved more cheaply.

If that could be proved, the government aims to determine future renewable energy support levels from 2018 on via a tendering model, the text states.

The European Commission in its latest guidance on support for the electricity sector had stated that it favours auctions to allocate renewable generation to the lowest bidder.

But while the EU says this would make support cheaper, industry commentators argue that tenders in other countries, such as the UK, haven’t resulted in cheaper prices than in Germany with its fixed feed-in tariff system.

The minimum size of PV arrays entitled to participate in the tender is still to be determined. Also, the text of the contract may still change during coalition talks that could last several more weeks.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, her Bavarian ally, the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the hitherto opposition Social Democrats (SPD) currently are in negotiations to form a new government after Merkel in late September elections lost her previous coalition partner.

The preliminary version of the energy sector agreement of the coalition contract also states that solar power won't face further cuts. The outgoing government last year had already introduced a new system for PV support which included steep FIT decreases.

There may be further financial strains for PV however, as the text also calls for plants generating for self-consumption to fall under the renewable surcharge that finances the build-up of green power.

The surcharge currently is only paid on power fed into the electricity grid.

Carsten Körnig, managing director of Germany’s solar federation BSW, says that proposal would make it more difficult for citizens and small businesses to become independent of support and would further slow down investments in solar.

“Steep cuts in solar support have led to a halving of the build-up of solar energy plants this year compared to previous years,” Körnig says.

“Receding installation figures show that currently there is no room for further strains.”