(Einspeisevergütung) Under the → Renewable Energy Act, the German government introduced → feed-in tariffs for renewable power. This meant that owners of renewable energy installations – from home PV arrays to large-scale solar and wind farms – were guaranteed a set, above-market price per kWh for the power they fed into the grid over a period of 20 years. With subsequent reform, this has been replaced by an auction system for new installations over a certain size (see → deployment corridor, and → Renewable Energy Act). Germany’s system of feed-in tariffs has been copied in other countries around the world.
Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is a method of oil and/or natural gas extraction in which wells are drilled deep into rock. The wells typically then extend horizontally an additional hundreds of meters. Large quantities of fluid at very high pressure are subsequently injected into the wells, causing cracks in the rock formations. Fracking fluid typically comprises water, chemicals, and sand, the latter holding open the newly-created fractures to allow for the recovery of natural gas and/or oil. In Germany, fracking is defined as either “unconventional” or “conventional” depending on the type of rock. The former takes place in coal seams, shale rock, argillite, and marlstone rock strata, meaning that great amounts of fracking fluid and pressure are needed to recover the fuels. In existence in Germany since the 1960s, conventional fracking takes place in sandstone and can extract gas and/or oil with significantly less pressure and fluid and fewer chemical additives. With the exception of four test drillings, unconventional fracking is banned in Germany until at least 2021. State governments largely do not plan to carry out these test drillings. Although conventional fracking is still legal in Germany, in 2017, lawmakers tightened the conditions in which it can take place.