German environment agency proposes funding support for citizens' energy projects
Clean Energy Wire
Citizen groups planning renewable energy projects in Germany should receive free advice and funding to enable their successful participation in the country's renewables support tenders, according to the Federal Environment Agency (UBA). "A funding programme for renewable energy communities in the pre-development phase can address multiple financial risks in a tender system," the UBA argues in an analysis supported by the Institute for Applied Ecology (Öko-Institut) and the Foundation for Research on Energy and Environmental Law (Stiftung Uweltenergierecht). "This can support the preservation of actor diversity in the auction rounds,” it explains. The citizen groups would need to pay back the funding of up to 200,000 euros in the event of a successful bid. They should also receive free expert advice in order to increase their projects' chances, according to UBA's proposals.
The funding limit of 200,000 euros is due to EU caps on subsidies. The report says it remains unclear whether this sum will be sufficient to ensure a higher participation of citizen projects, given that it only constitutes 17 percent of the average pre-development costs for a wind park, and calls for a clear definition of citizen energy projects to ensure funding reaches the right target groups. Only citizen groups that have very few projects in their portfolio, and that are composed of local residents, should qualify, it said. The experts added that lawsuits against wind parks are likely to remain a problem.
Germany’s push to replace conventional power with renewables such as wind and solar PV has not only altered its energy system and shaken up established utility giants, but has also turned millions of Germans into electricity producers. However, it has been difficult for citizens' energy groups to compete against bigger bidders in the government’s new auction system that sets remuneration for wind and solar parks.