German solar seeks constitutional shelter as lifting of subsidy cap is delayed

The plea to Germany's Federal Constitutional Court in the city of Karlsruhe (pictured here) comes amid industry fears that the subsidy freeze will activate in coming weeks. Image credit: Mehr Demokratie / Flickr

The row over Germany’s so-called solar subsidy cover has reached new heights in recent days, following the launch of a constitutional plea over the repeated failure to remove the cap.

An unidentified solar firm from southern Hesse has now lodged a complaint before Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court in the city of Karlsruhe, calling on the government to make good on its pledge to undo a freeze of solar subsidies that will kick in once the market reaches 52GW.

The federal government – an alliance between chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives (CDU/CSU) and the social democrats (SPD) – first vowed to lift the cap in late 2019. A deal last month on a separate row over wind turbine distancing meant the solar reprieve was, in principle, ready to go.

However, MPs at the Bundestag failed in late May to enact the necessary legislation. With the parliamentary summer break around the corner, the industry fears the cap might not be lifted by the time PV installs reach the 52GW threshold, which is expected to happen in the coming weeks.

Germany's solar subsidy spat: A timeline of PV Tech coverage

29 May 2019: German solar calls for lifting of solar subsidy cap as market passes 47GW mark (see here to read the full story)

23 September 2019: Germany strikes tentative deal to lift solar subsidy cap (see here to read the full story)

19 May 2020: Deal on separate wind power dispute clears obstacle to lifting of subsidy cap (see here to read the full story) 

9 June 2020: Constitutional complaint lodged as solar industry nears 52GW subsidy cut-off point 

Carsten Körnig, chief executive of German solar body BSW, said the goal of the constitutional campaign is to pull the “parachute’s ripcord” and “prevent the impact at the last second”. The complaint has, he said, been supported by 100 other solar players in Germany.

Represented by Berlin law firm von Bredow Valentin Herz, the Hesse-based solar firm at the origin of the complaint alleges a “threat to its existence” from the solar subsidy cap, claiming that its fundamental rights to property under German law are being breached.

“Hopefully the Bundestag will be able to reach an amicable settlement in the coming week’s session by finally, bindingly deciding to abolish the solar cover,” said BSW’s Körnig. ”In this case, we will of course withdraw the constitutional complaint immediately.”

Recently approached for comment, a spokesperson from German’s federal government had told PV Tech the lifting of the PV subsidy freeze is to be adopted “at the next opportunity” by German MPs. “As far as we know, this shall happen in the very near future,“ they predicted.

Solar row for country eyeing post-COVID green future

The row over solar subsidies comes as Germany navigates its transition away from COVID-19 lockdown measures, amid efforts to lay the foundations of the economic recovery.

The stimulus package presented by chancellor Merkel in recent days will pour €130 billion (US$146 billion) into the economy. A €40 billion (US$45 billion) share is reportedly earmarked for climate initiatives, including electric vehicles, green hydrogen and energy efficiency upgrades.

German energy market association BDEW has hailed the proposals, including the capping of the renewables surcharge on power bills. The measures, BDEW said last week, will however fall short if Germany does not do away with the lingering “obstacles“ to wind and PV growth.

14 September 2022
Join us in London for 2 days as we look at the UK’s new landscape for utility & rooftop solar. Understand the new opportunities within this GW-plus annual market!
29 November 2022
PV ModuleTech EMEA in Madrid on 29-30 November 2022 will address the factors underpinning the changing PV module landscape, gathering together all the key stakeholders across the value-chain from module production to field testing. Join us for presentations from the leading players in the sector, clearly identifying the opportunities and challenges set to impact module supply to Europe and the Middle-East over the next few years.

Read Next

August 2, 2022
The building-integrated PV (BIPV) market is expected to reach US$94.4 billion by 2031, up from US$11.7 billion recorded in 2021.
July 25, 2022
Renewables developer Ørsted has entered into an agreement with German developer Ostwind to acquire 100% of its equity interest.
July 21, 2022
Nearly 40GW of solar PV will be rolled out across Europe by the end of the year, according to SolarPower Europe (SPE), as the continent scrambles to deploy renewables and wean itself off Russian gas.
July 18, 2022
Germany generated a record amount of power from solar PV on Sunday, with this expected to be repeated over the coming days amid a fierce heatwave across western Europe, according to Bloomberg.  
July 12, 2022
Perovskite-on-silicon PV modules are more environmentally advantageous than conventional silicon heterojunction (HJT) modules over a 25-year lifetime, according to a study from researchers in Germany.
July 11, 2022
Energy major bp has signed a memorandum of understanding with German conglomerate thyssenkrupp focused on the supply of low-carbon hydrogen and renewable power in steel production.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
September 7, 2022
15:30 AEST (UTC +10)
Solar Media Events
September 14, 2022
Solar Media Events
October 4, 2022
New York, USA
Solar Media Events
October 11, 2022
Virtual event