Germany's renewable electricity law reform unlikely before election - regulator
Fundamental reform of Germany's renewable-energy law is unlikely before the national election in autumn this year, according to the president of the country's energy regulator, the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA), which governs the nation's electricity market.
Even though 2012 saw another record year of solar-power capacity growth (see EDEM 7 January 2013), it is questionable how much political consensus exists to introduce more reform after the most recent cut to subsidies was agreed only some six months ago (see EDEM 28 June 2012).
"Realistically, the necessary fundamental reform [of the renewable-energy law] is unlikely [before the election]," BNetzA president Jochen Homann said in an interview published by lobby group BDEW on its website. "Nevertheless, quick changes are possible in certain areas," he said.
A potential short-term measure is a reduction in the remuneration of unused wind- and solar-generated power, Homann said. That could encourage the building of solar and wind farms in places where there is a grid connection and where the power is needed, he said.
Matthias Lang, partner at law firm Bird & Bird in Düsseldorf, said the pressure is on the proponents of the current subsidy system for solar power because of the high renewable energy surcharge for end-use customers, the high absolute costs of subsidy payments and the current discussion about the lawfulness of the German renewable-energy subsidy system.
Last week, utility RWE raised its electricity prices for end-use customers by nearly 10%, blaming federal taxes including the surcharge for renewable power.
However, a proposal by the state economy ministry of Saxony to introduce a quota model for solar power has been rebuffed by other states.
Saxony proposed to set quotas for utilities on the amount of much renewable power they should generate. That would ensure that investments would flow into the most cost-efficient renewable sources. But critics warned that the quota method could mean the end for more expensive technologies such as offshore wind power.
Meanwhile, the state of Baden-Würtemberg criticised demands to reform the renewable energy law before the election as hasty.
New market design
The regulatory framework for a future market design is due to be proposed by the summer (see EDEM 2 November 2012).
A final version, which could make its appearance in about three years' time, according to Homann, would need to incorporate different storage options and demand management, the BNetzA president said.
In addition, he warned that the new market design would need to consider regional differences such as the tight grid situation in southern Germany. MD
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