German FIT-cut reprieve on cards

Germany’s government no longer expects to strike a deal with the country’s federal states over proposals for harsh cuts to support for renewables before September’s federal elections – meaning the plans look to be off the agenda for now.

The office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel has cancelled a meeting scheduled for this week between representatives of German states and the federal government that aimed to agree a deal before a self-imposed May deadline.

“Talks so far between the heads of state governments and the federal government have shown that it can be assumed that there will be no consensus anymore before the elections,” a government spokeswoman told Recharge today.

In February, environment minister Peter Altmaier and economics minister Philipp Rösler proposed a series of measures that included an across-the-board cut to onshore wind FITs to €0.08 ($0.10) per kWh from about €0.09 now, and a five-month moratorium before any FITs are paid for new renewable installations, apart from PV.

For those plans to proceed, Altmaier and Merkel would have needed the support of German states, because the Social Democrat-Greens-led opposition to their government at the federal level holds a majority in the Bundesrat – Germany’s upper chamber representing the states – which could be used to block the FIT plans.

Merkel and state premiers had already failed to reach an agreement during a meeting in March.

The issue of support levels for renewables will now be discussed further at a states-federal “platform for renewable energies” within the environment ministry, in order to reach a broader reform of Germany’s renewable energy legislation after the elections.

Altmaier, who had initiated the reform push earlier this year, in early April told Recharge that it was unclear whether a deal could still be reached before the elections.

The measures are fiercely opposed by the renewables industry, which argues that they would stifle investment. Offshore wind groups stress that the five-month moratorium would be particularly harmful, because of the large investments needed, which usually top €1bn.

The two ministers originally also proposed cuts to FITs for already-producing renewables installations, but such retroactive measures had already been ruled out by the meeting between Merkel and the state premiers.