Critics blast German government plan to end support for small hydropower plants
Tageszeitung / Clean Energy Wire
Germany’s hydropower sector is up in arms over the federal government’s plan to stop the subsidisation of small hydroelectric power plants due to nature conservation concerns, newspaper Tageszeitung (taz) reports. The government this week is planning to amend the country’s Renewable Energy Act (EEG), which aims to accelerate the expansion of renewable energy sources but which would also cancel subsidies for small hydroelectric power plants with capacities of up to 500 kilowatts. If approved, there will be no more new plants and funding would end for old plants. "We couldn't believe our own eyes," said Hans-Peter Lang, president of the Federation of German Hydroelectric Power Plants BDW. The move would create “a two-class society in renewable energy production”, he added. The industry is particularly upset by the "arrogance" with which the government claims that the energy yield of small hydropower plants is insignificant for climate protection, taz notes. Hydropower generates around 3 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, a third of the amount of a nuclear power plant. That is enough CO2-free energy for around 1 million households, the BDW calculates. Hydropower delivers "constant and reliable electricity, even when it's dark and calm" and is therefore "indispensable for grid and system stability", it adds.
Lang blasted German economy minister Robert Habeck in particular: "While Habeck travels to authoritarian states to bring more and more expensive oil and gas to Germany and at the same time demands 'Every kilowatt-hour counts!', his ministry abolishes hydropower." In a statement issued last week, the BDW said the “overriding public interest in renewable energies must also apply to hydropower” and demanded that the exclusion of hydroelectric power plants below 500 kW in the EEG be revised. Environmental groups last year objected to increased support for small hydropower plants, saying they posed a threat to river ecosystems.