Germany details cuts to wind and solar electricity capacity growth

22 January 2014 16:46 Source:ICIS

Germany’s renewable power capacity growth could be slowed considerably, with economy and energy minister Sigmar Gabriel proposing a radical overhaul of the renewable energy subsidy scheme.

In contrast to the current model, the future capacity growth path will be fixed to long-term targets. The share of renewable power generation in the country’s power mix should rise to between 40-45% by 2025 from 24% currently. Renewable production reached 147TWh last year, according to research institute AGEB. By 2035, the share should to rise to 55-60%.

The new proposal was published in detail on Wednesday, although the new coalition has made it clear that the current scheme would be overhauled ( see EDEM 11 November 2013 ).

Cuts in capacity growth

The subsidy rate will adapt to the annual growth path, in the same way as with solar power currently. Therefore if annual capacity growth has exceeded the theoretical growth path, the subsidies will be cut more drastically.

For solar power, the annual capacity growth path will be lowered to 2.5GW, from a current target range between 2.5-3.5GW.

Onshore wind capacity growth should also be limited to 2.5GW per year. The total combined annual growth will total 5.8GW, comprised mainly of solar and onshore wind, but also some growth in offshore wind capacity.

Offshore wind power has a target of installed capacity growth target of 6.5GW is aimed for by 2020 and 15GW by 2030.

In contrast, biomass power generation is cut drastically to a maximum of 100MW a year because it has failed to deliver cost savings so far, and remains the most expensive renewable technology, the minister said in a speech on Tuesday.

Additional measures

Mandatory direct marketing should be introduced successively for all renewable power plants. From 2015, all plants larger than 500kW will be impacted until 2017 when all plants larger than 100kW will follow.

The minister also wants to at least slow the trend for consumers to own generation. This has taken off strongly in Germany in recent years, and is considered to be one of the factors why overall power consumption for electricity from the public grid has declined in recent years, despite the overall economy growing ( see EDEM 16 December 2013 ).

This has become more attractive because companies producing their power demand on site were exempt from paying the renewable power surcharge ( see EDEM 1 August 2013 ). The exemption should not be granted any more if the reform is passed.

The new renewable power subsidy law could be implemented from 1 August 2014 if passed by the parliament this summer. Martin Degen

By Martin Degen