Clean Power

Published on October 17th, 2013 | by Dr. Karl-Friedrich Lenz


German Feed-in Tariff Costs Invisible Without Magnifying Glass

October 17th, 2013 by  

Originally published on the Lenz Blog.

At the occasion of the announcement of a moderate rise in feed-in costs in Germany today (they will be 6.24 cents Euro per kWh next year) here is a reprint from a post published last October, when the feed-in tariff was announced last year. The only thing one needs to adjust is that surcharges may amount to 0.33 percent instead of 0.3 percent of household expenditure…

The German Environment Ministry has compiled a helpful page on recent development of energy costs for use in school lessons.

For anyone paying attention, there is not ever so much new information. However, this comes in handy in the current wave of anti-renewable energy propaganda.

A couple of facts from that page.

For one, the costs of the surcharges amount to a grand total of 0.3% of average household consumption.

When visualizing this tiny fraction with an appropriate graph, the Ministry adds a magnifying glass, so as to make it visible.


I am sure there is a useful metaphor to be found here. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out what that might be. Hint: Look at the headline of this post.

There is also a very helpful graph on development of all energy costs since 2000 for the average three person household:


Electricity is up from 44 euro per month in 2000 to 75 in 2012 (with only 9 of that coming from the increase in feed-in tariff surcharges). In other words, two thirds of the increase in costs comes from factors unrelated to those surcharges.

And the increase in electricity cost of 31 euro per month is less than the increase in heating oil cost of 57 euro and the increase of gasoline cost of 45 euro per month.

With fossil fuel getting more expensive all the time, costs for all forms of energy are going up. Add those increases and you get 133 euro per month, only 9 of which are due to increased surcharges.

And of course, in the long run, renewable will save energy costs. Renewable deployment becomes cheaper all the time, while fossil fuel costs are going up, even if you don’t count the cost associated with heating Earth up to Venus levels.

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About the Author

is a professor of German and European Law at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo, blogging since 2003 at Lenz Blog. A free PDF file of his global warming science fiction novel "Great News" is available here.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Karl, I saw some news yesterday about some of the savings at the wholesale level being passed on to retail customers so that residential rates will stay basically flat when renewable subsidies increase.

    Seems only fair since the renewables that retail customers are supporting have caused wholesale electricity costs to fall. Makes no sense for all the savings to go to industry profits and industrial user prices when retail customers are paying the bill.

    You seeing anything in the German press?

    • Karl-Friedrich Lenz

      This would be a decision for each individual utility to make. Since Germany (as well as the whole EU) has completely liberalized the electricity sector, there is competition. And it is pointed out frequently that many customers can save more than the additional cost from the surcharge hike by switching to a cheaper provider.

      I did not see any such report this time around, but last year RWE announced that they would not pass on the surcharge increase:

    • Karl-Friedrich Lenz

      Craig Morris at Renewables International reports on an article at Manager Magazin, which says that most utilities won’t pass on the increase:

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