Fight over ambition level threatens to delay Germany's renewables reform
Germany’s government and parliament are struggling to complete the reform of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG), the law that guides the expansion of wind, solar PV and biomass installations and their funding. Parliament had been expected to pass the latest amendment, proposed by the energy and economy ministry, in November, so it would come into effect in January 2021. But negotiations between the two governing parties (SPD and CDU/CSU) and their parliamentarians have become stuck, with their positions still far from reconcilable, Joachim Wille writes in Frankfurter Rundschau. “A flop is imminent: instead of the overdue 'huge leap' the Social Democrats (SPD) had been hoping for, the result could be an amendment ‘extra-light’”, he writes.
The draft law proposal by the energy ministry had received a lot of criticism from businesses but also from state governments who also have to vote on the law to pass it in Germany’s upper house, or Council of States (Bundesrat). Controversial issues are the overall expansion targets for renewable technologies, which many believe should be much higher to account for the future electricity demand from e-cars and heat pumps. Other sticky points are profit sharing by citizens who live near wind turbines, an obligation to install solar power on new buildings, and improvements in renewable electricity schemes for tenants. The SPD is in favour of scrapping the funding of renewables through a levy on everyone’s power bill and wants to see it replaced by a funding through a higher power tax, revenues from CO2 allowances and the reduction of climate-damaging subsidies. The EEG amendment is also to provide clarity about the future of installations that will lose their remuneration in 2021 after 20 years of funding.
The EEG amendment is due to be debated by parliament again on Thursday next week. Germany’s landmark EEG has been credited with making solar and wind power two of the most important electricity sources in the country and saw the share of renewables in power consumption growing to almost 50 percent in 2020.