German government faces eleventh-hour call to scrap renewables charge

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German trade association BSW-Solar has made a last-ditch plea to the country’s government to abandon plans for a controversial charge on homeowners self-consuming PV-generated power.

Germany’s new energy minister Sigmar Gabriel is developing controversial plans that would extend a green energy levy enshrined in Germany’s renewable energy act (EEG) to domestic PV users while exempting heavy industry from the same charge.

As Germany’s cabinet prepares to adopt Gabriel’s draft law, expected to happen early next month, BSW-Solar has expressed its “outrage” at the plans, claiming they turn the ‘polluter pays’ principle “upside down”.

BSW-Solar chief executive Carsten Körnig said: “The largest sources of greenhouse gases remain largely freed from the cost of the energy transition, while the majority of future solar power plant operators are asked to pay three to five times as [much].”

BSW-Solar’s comments came after reportedly new information emerged about the charges that will be payable under the new plans.

According to BSW-Solar electricity-intensive companies will be required from August to pay 1.25 euro cents per kilowatt-hour of self-generated power, representing an 80% discount on the full EEG charge, or ‘umlage’.

Smaller traders, such as crafts and agriculture businesses, a sector previously exempted from the charge, would pay 4.4c/kWh. Meanwhile, householders will pay 6.3c/kWh of self-generated power.

“Consumer and environmental protection are trampled and clearly subordinated to the interests of large corporations,” said Körnig, adding that the new law would threaten the success of Germany’s energy transition.

According to a Reuters report, Gabriel told reporters yesterday that he was confident of reaching an agreement with the European Commission over the state aid implications of his proposals and that the law was due to signed off by 8 April.

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