Economics Minister Philipp Rösler called for far-reaching changes of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), in particular a binding obligation for owners of new solar and wind power plants to market the electricity themselves, the newspaper Handelsblatt reported. Exceptions shall only apply to small scale power plants.
Thus far the EEG provides for fixed feed-in tariffs payments for renewable energy that has to be purchased and marketed by the grid operators, while consumers cover the difference between the EEG payments and the sales revenue by paying the so-called EEG surcharge. Over the past years the EEG surcharge has risen considerably, amounting to 5,277 ct/kWh for 2013. The resulting rise in electricity prices (to which other surcharges and exemptions have also contributed) prompted Mr Rösler to call (again) for a fundamental reform of the EEG recently.
A direct marketing obligation would indeed by a system change. The EEG provides for a voluntary direct marketing possibility as an alternative to feeding electricity into the grids and receiving EEG payments (cf. Sections 33a to 33h EEG). Yet a negative difference of the sales revenue compared with the EEG feed-in tariff payments is compensated for by the so-called market premium (cf. Section 33g EEG), which additionally contains a management premium that covers transactional costs like the cost for the listing at the energy exchange and other trading related costs as well as the costs for forecast errors regarding the actual amount of energy fed into the grid.
Thus far the EEG only excludes solar power plants with an installed capacity of more than 10 MW from receiving fixed feed-in tariff payments (cf. Section 32 para. 1 EEG) and the market premium for direct marketing (cf. Section 33c para. 2 no. 1 a EEG). As of 2014 (cf. Section 66 para. 19 EEG) solar power plants with capacities between more than 10 kW and 1 MW will only receive EEG feed-in tariff payments for 90% of the electricity generated. The rest of the output has to be directly marketed (so-called market integration model according to Section 33 para 1 sent. 1 EEG; the market premium pursuant to Section 33g EEG cannot be claimed, cf. Section 33b no. 3 in connection with Section 32 para. 1 sent. 2 EEG). Biomass power plants with a capacity of more than 750 kW commissioned after 31 December 2013 are also not eligible for feed-in tariff payments (cf. Section 27 para. 3 EEG) and the market premium (cf. Section 33c para. 2 no. 1 a EEG).
Besides, Mr Rösler called for deleting or at least considerably cutting the compensation for renewable power plants that have to be disconnected from the grid, Handelblatt said. Thus far the installations received compensations of at least 95% of the EEG payments, providing no incentive to link the growth of renewable power plants to the expansion of the grids, the paper quotes Mr Rösler as saying. Section 11 EEG stipulates that by way of exception grid operators are entitled to take technical control over renewable power plants, CHP plants and mine gas plants connected to their grid system with a capacity of over 100 KW under certain conditions. Section 12 para. 1 sent. 1 EEG provides that if the input from these plants is reduced as a result of a grid bottleneck within the meaning of Section 11 EEG, the operators affected by the measure “shall be compensated for 95 percent of their lost income as well as for additional expenses, but less any expenses saved”.
Lastly, Mr Rösler said the “excessive payments” for wind power had to be cut considerably, Handelsblatt wrote.
Mr Rösler’s proposal follows Conservative Environment Minister Altmaier’s recent proposal for an amendment of the EEG that is also intended to limit the increase in electricity prices, but rather proposes changes keeping the EEG (feed-in tariff) system basically intact.
With the Federal election date set for 22 September 2013, it is doubtful that either Mr Rösler’s suggestions or Mr Altmaier’s plans will be enacted before that date, given the majority of the opposition in the Bundesrat (Federal Council), the legislative body that represents the interests of the states on the federal level.