The German parliament approved controversial reforms to the country’s energy policy on Friday.
PV systems over 10kW in size will be subject to an initial 30% proportion of the energiewende (EEG) surcharge in 2015, rising to 35% in 2016 and 40% in 2017. Major industrial energy users will pay a 15% rate with the government arguing that the full rate would put them at a competitive disadvantage compared to European competitors.
The original planned reforms would have included all new residential solar systems but a late amendment was added to exempt systems under 10kW in size and those generating more than 10MWh annually.
The German PV industry association BSW-Solar warned that the exemption covered only one-fifth of the country’s predicted PV expansion, which is likely to be dominated by mid-scale systems. This could leave small- and medium-sized business exposed to the EEG surcharge while the coal industry is exempt.
Carsten Körnig, managing director of BSW-Solar said the “sun tax” had now made the cost of solar power artificially high and intimated that the large utility firms “had their handwriting” all over the new law.
Renewable energy groups are currently considering a legal challenge to the reforms.
The EEG has also proven unpopular in Brussels with competition commissioner concerned that imported foreign electricity could be placed at a disadvantage.