German Bundestag approves green energy law reforms

The seat of the German Bundestag. Image by S. Neumann. Source: https://www.bundestag.de/

July 8 (Renewables Now) - Germany's Parliament on Thursday gave the green light to several draft bills of the so-called Easter Package that are meant to accelerate the rollout of renewable energy in Europe's largest economy.

With 379 votes in favour and 281 against, the Bundestag approved the proposed changes to the Renewable Energies Act (EEG) that set higher targets for wind and solar energy in the country.

The legislative amendments passed on Thursday also concern the Federal Nature Conservation Act and the regulation providing for both onshore and offshore wind expansion.

In an effort to wean Germany off Russian fossil fuels, the federal government is seeking to expand the installed solar capacity across the country to 215 GW by the end of this decade from currently 60 GW which means that 22 GW of new capacity must be deployed annually.

The expansion of onshore wind must reach 10 GW per year so that Germany has about 115 GW of turbines by 2030. To support the addition of new capacity, a new law obliges each state to set aside a minimum amount of land for the installation of wind turbines so that a total of 2% of Germany's territory will be available for wind energy. The separate federal states must allocate between 1.8% and 2.2% of their area for turbines by the end of 2032. So far, only 0.8% of the country's area has been designated for wind energy, of which only 0.5% is actually used for this purpose.

The targets for offshore wind capacity are set at 30 GW by 2030, 40 GW by 2035 and at least 70 GW by 2045. The offshore wind law also provides for tendering smaller areas for parks with a capacity starting from 500 MW. Additionally, nature conservation areas will be considered for turbine installation only after all other areas have been allocated and non-EU investors seeking to participate in offshore tenders could be investigated and eventually excluded from auctions.

The German solar energy association BSW described the adopted changes as an important milestone on the way to the solar age. However, BSW's managing director Carsten Koernig warned that the ambitious goals can only be achieved if investment barriers are removed and further reforms are made quickly.

In another statement on Tuesday, the association noted that the regulatory framework must be simplified and bureaucracy must be reduced in the next so-called Summer Package at the latest. The necessary changes concern certification, prerequisites for grid connection and various tax aspects.

The German wind energy association, BWE, also welcomed the higher targets but called for more improvements. The Easter Package includes many good things but it misses measures to boost solar and wind energy while some sectors such as biogas have no prospects at all. According to BWE, bioenergy should play a central role in Germany's energy supply in view of the declining gas imports from Russia.

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