Dossier
02 Jun 2021, 11:00
The People's Energiewende

Germany between citizens’ energy and Nimbyism

Since the energy transition took off in 2000, millions of Germans have become energy producers, investing in solar panels on their houses and buying shares in wind parks. Citizens' engagement is one reason that support for the energy transition is high despite rising power prices. But as the transition gathered pace the government changed regulations, stoking concerns that more complex rules will put citizens off. At the same time, important Energiewende projects have run into resistance, requiring new ways to keep the public on board.

Share of citizen energy in decline as funding runs out and big investors take over

Germany’s push to replace conventional power with renewables like wind and solar PV has not only altered its energy system and shaken up established energy utility giants, it has also turned millions of Germans into electricity producers. Citizens’ engagement and the appeal of independence and “energy democracy” are a reason Germans have strongly supported the energy transition despite higher power prices. But after 20 years, feed-in payments that first incentivised renewable power installations are ending, threatening to make these early adopters bystanders again. At the same time, it has been difficult for citizen energy groups to compete against bigger bidders in the government’s new auction system that sets remuneration for wind and solar parks, experts warn.

Read the article here.

Post feed-in tariff futures for pioneer renewable plants: Onshore wind power

Many of Germany’s early renewable energy pioneers were experimenters with onshore wind technology. Inspired by the example of neighbouring Denmark, which had already proven the effectiveness of wind technology in the early 1990s, a number of environmentally conscious, engineering-minded Germans followed suit, especially after the country’s renewable energy law in 2000 introduced feed-in tariffs guaranteed for 20 years. However, the past ten years have seen big companies steadily squeeze out small-scale generation by individuals. As feed-in tariffs now begin to run out, this trend is likely to continue. While setting up new, more powerful turbines in place of the old ones would be the favourable solution, many local authorities have limited this possibility, leaving the operators of pioneer wind farms to find new buyers for their power or quit the business.

Read the article here.

Post feed-in tariff futures for pioneer renewable plants: Small solar PV

After 20 years, many pioneer clean energy projects are losing their guaranteed feed-in tariff, with possible repercussions for citizen involvement in the energy transition. In the solar sector, this change is mainly affecting households with small scale, rooftop installations. Without the feed-in payments, selling to the grid will no longer be economical for many producers, but amendments to the EEG should make it easier and cheaper to self-consume instead. However, not everyone agrees that encouraging households to go off-grid is the route forward for Germany’s energy system.

Read the article here.

Post feed-in tariff futures for pioneer renewable plants: Biogas

After 20 years, many pioneer clean energy projects are losing their guaranteed feed-in tariff, with possible repercussions for citizen involvement in the energy transition. Without the support of the feed-in tariff, power production from biogas, mostly by farmers, is the most precarious of the renewables sectors in Germany. 2020 saw the overall number of biogas plants decrease for the first time, and this trend will likely continue as more and more plants fall out of the feed-in arrangement. Winning a contract in a government auction is a way forward for larger plants, and there is also a premium available for biogas producers who run their plants flexibly. At the moment, however, few plants have competed in the auctions.

Read the article here.

Citizen participation as the key to energy transition success

Since the energy transition took off in 2000, millions of Germans have become energy producers, investing in solar panels on their houses and buying shares in wind parks. Citizens' engagement is one reason that support for the energy transition is high despite rising power prices. But as the transition gathered pace the government changed regulations, stoking concerns that more complex rules will put citizens off. At the same time, important Energiewende projects have run into resistance, requiring new ways to keep the public on board.

Read the article here.

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