Bundestag passes amendments to Germany’s renewable energy act

Die Linke and Greens would have liked to see higher fixed expansion targets for renewables. Both groups fear that the plans so far are not sufficient to achieve the climate targets and the emission reduction targets. [Shutterstock | hrui]

The German Bundestag passed an amendment to the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) on Thursday (17 December), without support from the opposition. The leftist Die Linke and Greens have called for higher green electricity production targets while the liberal FDP wants to allow “negative emission technologies.” EURACTIV Germany reports.

The law will come into force on 1 January 2021, completely replacing the EEG Act of 2017, to help the country meet the goal of producing 65% of its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2030.

The Social Democrats (SPD) wanted to stipulate in the law that the expansion of renewable energies served public safety. This passage alarmed opposition parties and environmental protection organisations alike, as they feared that a legally stipulated public interest could also have an impact on judicial decisions.

In the case of land expropriation for the construction of wind farms, for example, such a “public interest” could make expropriation much easier. In theory, this does not have to be enshrined in law; it is sufficient for a judge to find that there is a public interest.

Germany's updated renewable energy act lacks ambition, critics say

The official draft for an amendment to Germany’s Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) has been made public. It contains incentives for more wind energy in southern Germany and measures for ageing turbines, but critics say there is still a lot of room for improvement. EURACTIV Germany reports.

EEG amendment criticised for lacking teeth

The passage was removed from the EEG amendment, and so it is now the renewable energy sector that is complaining. The German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE) said that the clear commitment to the energy transition was effectively being removed from the EEG.

Green electricity provider LichtBlick similarly argued that the reform lacks vision and courage.

The German Wind Energy Association also reacted cautiously: “The agreement between the SPD and the CDU/CSU announces a lot, but delivers little that is tangible,” it said.

Opposition parties were even more elaborate in their criticism.

The FDP said it would have liked to see the expansion of technologies enabling negative emissions.

“Since greenhouse gases […] cannot be completely avoided, the remaining emissions must be compensated for by removing CO2 from the atmosphere,” reads a motion from the party. The group complains that such technologies are not mentioned in the EEG amendment, although there are various possibilities for use and storage of CO2 filtered from the air.

As to the leftist Die Linke and Greens, they would have liked to see higher expansion targets for renewables. Both groups fear that current plans are insufficient to meet emissions reduction goals.

“The green power expansion target of 65% of gross power consumption by 2030 is too low to be compatible with the resolutions of the Paris Climate Agreement,” the left-wing parliamentary group emphasises in its motion “Shaping green power expansion for the future.”

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Germany’s energy transition or ‘Energiewende’, which came into force 20 years ago today, would not have been possible without the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG). As a number of questions still remain unanswered, EURACTIV Germany talked to one of its architects.

Short timetable for EEG changes

The Green Party’s energy policy spokeswoman, Julia Verlinden, said on Wednesday that the draft amendment to the EEG is far from “what is needed in terms of renewable expansion, electromobility, heat transition and citizen participation.”

The Greens had already announced that they would vote unanimously against the amendment, in part also because of the last-minute consultation procedure. The agreement between the CDU/CSU and the SPD on a draft law had only been reached over the weekend and was put to a vote in the Bundestag on Thursday only after a mere 50-minute debate.

The Bundesrat, the upper house of the German parliament, was also unenthusiastic about the government’s legislative proposal.

In a statement, it said that the draft law lacked a clear course “for the necessary stronger market integration and fairer financing of renewable energies.”

It is limited to a large number of individual regulations instead of providing “sufficient answers to the fundamental question of how the support system can be further developed towards more distributive justice, market integration and system responsibility for renewable energies.”

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic and Frédéric Simon]

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