German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection launches measures in the energy sector

The Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz – “BMWK”) has drawn up an emergency programme (status: 28 February 2022), which is to be adopted by the cabinet in the near future.

1. This is the so-called Easter Package, which, among other things, will

  • amend the Renewable Energies Act (Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz - "EEG 2023") and
  • the levying of energy industry surcharges is to be standardised and made less bureaucratic in a newly designed Energy Surcharges Act (Energie-Umlagen-Gesetz - "EnUG").

2. In addition, a law to reduce the cost burden of the EEG surcharge (Gesetz zur Absenkung der Kostenbelastungen durch die EEG-Umlage - "EEG Relief Act") has been drafted to ensure that the cost relief resulting from the elimination of the EEG surcharge is actually passed on to consumers.

Easter package including draft bill for EEG 2023

An ambitious package of measures is being launched under the title "Act on Immediate Measures for an Accelerated Expansion of Renewable Energies and Further Measures in the Electricity Sector" (“Gesetz zu Sofortmaßnahmen für einen beschleunigten Ausbau der erneuerbaren Energien und weiteren Maßnahmen im Stromsektor“). It is to be nothing less than the "largest acceleration amendment to the Renewable Energy Sources Act since its inception". The plan is for the EEG 2023 to come into force on 1 January 2023.

The main contents of the draft bill for the EEG 2023 can be summarised as follows:

  • Adjustment of the statutory expansion targets:
    • By 2030: Coverage of 80 % (equivalent to 572 TWh) of gross electricity consumption from electricity generated from renewable energies.
    • From 2035: Greenhouse gas neutrality of domestic electricity generation - almost complete coverage of electricity generation with renewable energies.
  • Increase of the surcharge limit for installations in other EU Member States from 5% to 20%.
  • Priority for renewable energies (balancing of protected interests):
    • Anchoring the principle that the use of renewable energies is in the overriding public interest and serves public safety, with the aim of accelerating the expansion of renewable energies in all legal areas.
  • Examination of alternative incentives:
    • It is being examined whether the promotion of renewable energies can be supplemented or replaced by other regulatory approaches in the future (e.g. through the introduction of contracts for difference - "CfD"). To this end, the draft bill provides for an ordinance authorisation, on the basis of which adjustments to the support system can be made in the future. The decision on a changeover is to be made after an in-depth examination.
  • Accelerating the expansion of offshore wind energy:
    • Increase in expansion targets (by 2030: 30 GW, by 2035: 40 GW and by 2045: 70 GW).
    • Increase in tender volumes with amendment of the Law on the Development and Promotion of Wind Energy at Sea (2023 to 2026) to 5 - 7 GW; from 2027 4 GW annually.
    • Redesign of the promotion regime: two different tender designs for the different areas.
      • Centrally pre-screened areas are tendered via twenty-year CfD.
      • Non-centrally pre-screened areas will be tendered on the basis of qualitative criteria.
    • In addition, a comprehensive package of measures is to be adopted, in particular for the bundling of environmental assessments, the introduction of a planning approval procedure for centrally pre-surveyed areas, specifications for the duration of planning and approval procedures and the specification of ambitious implementation deadlines.
  • Acceleration of the expansion of solar energy:
    • Increase in tender volumes
    • Threshold for mandatory participation in tenders is raised to 1 MW (instead of 750 kW).
    • Expansion of the area coverage of ground-mounted solar systems (aqua, agri and car park solar, agriculturally used moorland).
    • Remuneration outside of tenders (rooftop solar systems): Differentiation between full and surplus feed-in; suspension of the degression of the legally fixed remuneration rates in 2022 and from 2023 changeover to semi-annual degression; elimination of the so-called "breathing cap".
  • Focusing biomass use on highly flexible peak load power plants:
    • Bioenergy should increasingly play to its strengths as a storable energy source and make a greater contribution to a secure electricity supply.
    • In future, biomethane is to be used only in highly flexible power plants (electricity generation at most 10% of the hours in a year) - at the same time, the size limit of previously 10 MW for biomethane plants is to be abolished.
    • A sustainable biomass strategy is also planned, which is to be implemented by law at a later date.
  • Continuation of innovation tenders with the changeover to a sliding market premium.
  • Orientation of new biomethane and CHP plants towards hydrogen ("H2-ready")
  • New tender segment: Innovative concepts with hydrogen-based electricity storage (with reconversion to electricity)
  • Citizens' energy companies
    • Remuneration outside the tendering process for onshore wind energy plants up to 18 MW and solar plants up to 6 MW.
    • New requirements for citizens' energy companies: at least 50 natural persons with a total of 75% of the voting rights; otherwise only participation by small and medium-sized enterprises.
  • Further development of the financial participation of municipalities:
    • In future, non-subsidised onshore wind energy plants (other direct marketing) as well as existing plants should also be able to use the instrument to increase acceptance (cf. our contribution to the previous regulation of § 6 EEG).
    • In the interest of nature conservation, the municipalities should be able to stipulate nature conservation requirements for (subsidised and unsubsidised) ground-mounted installations.

Draft bill EnUG

  • Abolition of the EEG surcharge:
    • Compensation of financing requirements for renewable energies through the federal budget (subsidies to the EEG account of the transmission system operators).
    • However, in order to avoid possible financing risks for the transmission system operators, the previous option of refinancing EEG support costs is to be retained as an alternative.
  • Unification of the distribution of the CHP surcharge and the offshore network surcharge:
    • Grid withdrawal as a prerequisite for imposition of the surcharges
    • No surcharges on own consumption (self-supply) and direct supply downstream of the grid interconnection point.
    • In the interest of sector coupling, heat pumps are also exempted from the surcharges.
  • Special equalisation scheme:
    • Adaptation to new Climate, Energy and Environmental Aid Guidelines (“CEEAG”) of the EU Commission (including requirements for energy efficiency, coverage of 30% of electricity consumption by unsubsidised electricity from renewable sources or investments for decarbonisation measures).
    • Easing of the burden of proof:
      • Abolition of electricity cost intensity
      • Auditor's certificates only when applying for a limitation according to the so-called super-cap
    • The previous provisions in the EEG on minor electricity consumption by third parties and on metering and estimation are transferred to the EnUG (and also apply to the Section 19 StromNEV surcharge by corresponding reference).
  • Amendment to electricity labelling and simplification of guarantees of origin for coupled supply

EEG Relief Act

For the abolition of the EEG surcharge in the second half of 2022, the BMWK has also prepared a formulation aid for the parliamentary groups in the German Parliament. This is a draft bill to reduce the cost burden of the EEG surcharge and to pass on this reduction to end consumers, which is to be enacted before the so-called Easter Package.

With this law, the EEG surcharge is to be set to zero ahead of time, effective 1 July 2022 and limited until 31 December 2022. This is the first step towards full budget financing of the EEG. Permanent budget financing will be provided in a second step through the upcoming EEG amendment as part of the emergency programme (see above).

The draft also contains some adjustments to the Energy Industry Act (Energiewirtschaftsgesetz - “EnWG”) that will pass on the reduction in the EEG surcharge to end consumers.

In the transitional provisions of the EnWG (Section 118 EnWG), the suppliers (basic suppliers and other suppliers) are obliged to reduce their prices by the amount by which the EEG surcharge is reduced as of 1 July 2022. The aim is to avoid a situation where, despite the reduction of the EEG surcharge to zero, the electricity price for end consumers is not reduced in a sufficiently transparent manner, and thus an actual price increase occurs incidentally through an increase in the supplier share. This is linked to the fact that the suppliers do not adjust the electricity prices on 1 July 2022 for other reasons (e.g. due to higher procurement costs). The statutory intervention in these contractual relationships will be limited to the period from 1 July to 31 December 2022.

Schedule of the legislative procedures

The three draft bills will now be submitted for ministerial approval. The EEG Relief Act is to be passed by the cabinet at the beginning of March and subsequently introduced in the German Parliament in order to enter into force in time before 1 July 2022. The legislative procedure for the so-called Easter Package (including EEG-2023, EnUG) is to be completed before the summer break so that negotiations with the EU Commission on state aid law can take place in the second half of the year. In principle, the Article Law is to enter into force on 1 January 2023.

We will inform you about selected topics on the new legal regulations in a timely manner in web talks and discuss questions and effects with you.

For further information and questions on energy law, please contact our contact persons.

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