Despite an amendment of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) in 2012 the area on which renewable raw materials are cultivated in Germany grew slightly in 2014 compared with 2013 reaching 2.34 million hectares, remaining slightly below the level of 2012, a study carried out on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Agriculture (BMELV) by the Agency for Renewable Raw Materials (FNR) found.
For some years renewable raw materials have accounted for one fifth of cultivated land, FNR said. Plants used to generate biogas are the largest group. They are cultivated on 1.27 million hectares of land, with silage maize being the most important plant, followed by grass, crops and sugar beets. Other plants have a marginal share as in the previous year. Rapeseed used for biodiesel and vegetable oil is the second most important plant. It is cultivated on almost 530,000 hectares. Demand for bio fuels stimulated by falling rapeseed prices was the likely reason for an increase of the area on which rapeseed is cultivated by 70,000 hectares, FNR said. On some 168,000 hectares renewable raw materials for bioethanol were cultivated, reaching almost the level of 2013. Cultivation for further material uses (stofflichen Nutzung) was basically on the same level as last year.
An amendment of the EEG in 2012 deleted a bonus for biomass power plants using certain renewable raw materials (so-called Nawaro bonus). The latest amendment of the EEG that entered into force on 1 August 2014 (EEG 2014) changed support for biomass again, deleting bonuses for the use of certain raw materials that were still promoted under the EEG 2012 and for gas processing. Henceforth more than the basic remuneration is only paid for a limited number of raw materials, in particular waste and residue. The explanatory memorandum for the EEG 2014 inter alia pointed out that support of biomass was scaled back “so as to preserve biodiversity and not increase competition with other forms of use” (cf. BT-Drucks. 18/1304, page 137). Among the “other forms of use” that were not further specified is of course the use of cops for the production of food. Competition of energy crops with food crops has been a topic for some time in Germany.