German RE groups in reforms plea

Germany’s renewable energy federation BEE urged the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel to revise plans for a reform to the country’s Renewable Energy Act (EEG), or risk choking the expansion of renewables and increasing dependency on Russian gas imports.

“Renewable energies make us more independent of Russia, and also of other politically difficult regions in the world,” BEE president Fritz Brickwedde said at a joint press conference with leaders of Germany’s wind energy federation BWE, its biogas federation and its solar energy association BSW Solar.

The briefing took place a day before Chancellor Angela Merkel meets with German state premiers to discuss the draft proposal for a reform of the EEG. Several states have issued their unease with the reforms, demanding among other things less brutal cuts to the support of onshore wind and biomass.

“If the slowdown (in the expansion of renewables) contained in the draft becomes law, Germany won’t reach its (2020) climate protection target and won't be able to substitute nuclear energy with renewables as planned by 2022,” Brickwedde said.

German energy minister Sigmar Gabriel in a draft amendment to the EEG has proposed a cap of 2.5GW for new wind installations a year from 2015 on. The government also said it wants to cut onshore wind feed-in tariffs (FITs), as well as giving preference in support to strong wind locations.

The proposal also foresees the introduction of tenders for renewable energy projects as well as the phasing in of a new regulation to force most producers of green power to sell it directly on wholesale electricity markets.

Gabriel in his draft went way beyond what was agreed upon between his Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Chancellor Merkel’s alliance of the Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian allies, the Christian Social Union (CSU), during coalition talks to form a new government last year, said BWE managing director Henning Dettmer.

Contrary to what had been understood from negotiations on the draft, Gabriel now wants to include repowering into the 2.5GW cap, Dettmer said, which will further reduce the real expansion in wind power capacity.

Also, cuts to onshore wind feed-in tariffs (FITs) as envisaged by the proposal are too steep in some areas, the BWE says. Dettmer added that a rule that only renewables developments approved before January 22, 2014, (when Gabriel first made known the main points of his draft) will still receive the current FITs would affect so many projects that it endangers investments.

“Millions in investments will be destroyed. The government would never dare to do this in any other industry.”

BSW Solar president Günther Häckl said a plan within the reform to start slapping a levy to finance the expansion of renewable for the first time also on self-consumed electricity would make self- consumption of solar energy unviable for most businesses.

“If the business models for solar self consumption will be destroyed, it threatens to be a deathblow for great parts of the solar industry,” he said.

Merkel’s cabinet plans to approve the reform proposal next week so that it can be voted upon by parliament before the summer recess. Renewables groups hope that German states can push through last minute changes to the proposal at least in some of the contentious areas.